There’s a point when a conversation is beginning to go south, that we can either make it worse, or steer it to a more peaceful conclusion.
And the key is the difference between reacting and responding.
If we’re looking to have good clean communication with our guy, this distinction is really useful.
Reacting is a reflex…it’s usually involuntary…like when the doctor uses that little hammer on your knee.
The same is true when we’re reacting verbally – we hear or see something we don’t like and we have an automatic response.
Sometimes, our reaction can be something that we’re less than proud of, or we might regret later.
So what’s going on there?
It means we’ve been triggered by an underlying emotion.
And despite our education or good intentions, we react – from habit. This might look like anger, or silence, or defending yourself, or expressing yourself vigorously.
But responding is something completely different.
Responding is something you do or say after you’ve had a chance to check in with yourself, and then make a conscious choice about what you want to say or do.
Think about something that happened recently where you got triggered – maybe your boyfriend said something insensitive, maybe he made plans without telling you, maybe he didn’t call you when he said he would… think about an event that triggered you, and how did you handle it?
Did you react? Or Respond?
I talk a lot about this in my book “How To Talk To A Man.” And I give you the words to use to deescalate a conflict and how to avoid it altogether. And I also give you advice and tips on how to clean up after an argument has driven you two apart.
The goal is to start to respond to challenging situations, not react to them. Because by responding consciously, we build connection with the ones we love.
And it’s through this connection we can dial down the conflict level and start to solve these challenges collaboratively.
Jeffrey Levine is a corporate coach and trained mediator (and Rori Raye’s husband) who works with both men and women to improve their communication, deepen their connection and remove the blocks that keep them from feeling and expressing love. He is the author of “How To Talk To A Man”, which contains invaluable advice, tools and solutions to help you avoid common relationship pitfalls, and clean things up when they go south. “Every moment presents a new choice for you: a decision about what you want – and what you believe you deserve.”