React or Respond

Domesticated 006

Responding to the Task 

Do you react or respond to an outcome?  Most people react, I think.  A golfer hits a bad shot that goes in the water.  It’s likely the player will react with negative emotion, especially disgust.  A kid wants candy, but Mom won’t buy it for him so he throws a temper tantrum.

Reacting is how an individual handles an outcome that wasn’t expected. “I didn’t win the contest and I know I gave the best speech . . . My (speech) evaluator criticized me for using notes, but she always uses notes.”

Most people react, but elite Toastmasters – like elite athletes, respond by reinforcing success or focusing on improvement.

This is important because it actively protects self-image. Successful people don’t get buried in self-doubt from poor performances; they focus on what they should do, not on what they did wrong. They can do this because they expect setbacks and errors and pre-plan their responses.

“I’m excited about (my) Project 10. Of course, I could miscue the slides or lose my train of thought, but that’s just part of learning. Whether I give a great speech or blow it I’ll think about what I did well, and what I’ll do better next time. I’m here today to learn, not to show that I’m already great.”

After the speech she will think, “Ok, that was great practice. My presentation needs work though. I used the stage really well, and my slides added a lot of support to my main points. I forgot to include the story about grandma – I think I’d better practice using my cue cards more effectively. The audience seemed to like it, though.”

This speaker is open to her evaluation, ready to schedule her next project, and comfortable with her self-image. She isn’t thinking she’s “a rotten speaker,” but rather that she needs to practice her presentation technique.

Responding is just a little more difficult than reacting, but it’s far, far more effective. Plan how you’ll respond after your next speech or assignment to a meeting leadership role. And join the ranks of the elite performers.

“The best speakers know enough to be scared…the only difference between the pros and the novices is that the pros have trained the butterflies to fly in formation.” Edward R. Murrow


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