February 19, 2017 | By Salim Abass Bwanaheri
“When you REACT, you are giving away your power. When you RESPOND, you are staying in control of yourself” _Bob Protor.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when someone rubs you off the wrong way? or when a situation gets out of hand?
Well, i am always filled with a burning desire to stand and reclaim my position. Most of us react to situations immediately even without thinking of the repercussions of our reactions. The problem is that our reactions end up hurting us, our friends or ruining the whole situation.
How many times do we sit back and think of our next course of action? Aaaaah…….close to none, right? We react immediately mostly because of our fears and insecurities which is not the best or rational way to act but its the easiest per-say.
You are now thinking “Ohh yeah Bwana, it has happened to me….. so what?”
I have learnt that if we sit back, think and respond to actions that set a fire in our heads other than react we can save very many would-be broken relationships, reverse our hatred against people and situations.
Responding, as opposed to reaction is taking the situation in, and deciding the best course of action putting in to consideration values like reason, compassion, cooperation etc
Four years ago i had a bitter exchange with a colleague based on our differences. He was a bully (my opinion then) and i was not the type to give in to his aloofness. My ego was that of a Masaka SS champ who thinks being a Kings college kid is no ground for boasting.
I kept piling my armory with weapons to destroy the bully once he attacked. One fateful day he bullied a colleague into submission, this was an open ground for me to launch my missiles and i did not hesitate. To save you the semantics, it was an ugly none physical fight (i would actually run if it got physical) so no one came to help calm the fight.
Shortly after the exchange i felt a clout of guilt and felt that i had reduced myself to his level, if anything, i had become a bigger bully myself. I apologized to our colleagues for the commotion, admitting that it was uncalled for. They acknowledged and demanded that my bully nemesis follow suit but you guessed it…..he did not.
We all go through these kinds of situations and think our only available option is stand up and defend our pride. The good news is; we have a choice. We can react or respond. The latter can save us a whole lot of embarrassment, save our relationships, build better teams and partnerships or even make ugly situations beautiful. Never sacrifice your class to get even with someone who has none
I know how it feels when your blood feels hot under your skin, your hands itch, your brains boil, all asking you to react, to do or say something to prove our righteousness. I still fidget with calming myself when i feel offended but i am learning because it takes an effort, a decision to be a better person than you were.
The Baganda say “atayogede teyejjusa” loosely translated as “one who maintains silences doesn’t get to regret”. It is relative, but for purposes of the theme in this blog, silence is King, and response is Queen.
Each time you encounter that rush to fight back, pause, allow the adrenaline to calm, and think of the most rational response.