Verb of the Week - Respond

Verb of the Week - Respond

By Donna Ambler on 13 May 2014

Somebody whose opinion I value gave me some sound advice last week. She told me to respond - not react - to a situtation that was concerning me. It took me a minute for the advice to sink in, but it's a reminder that will stay with me.

When I started to think more about this advice and searched the internet, I found there is a whole field of thinking on mindfulness and other psychological thinking that deals with our reactions and recommends more appropriate responses.

By definition, to react is to act in response to something; to respond in a particular way. It's a verb that dates back to the md-17th century, with Latin origins from the verb reagere, meaning done again.

In contrast, the verb respond has 16th century origins and its definition is: 

  1. to say or write something as an answer to a question or request
  2. to do something as a reaction to something that has happened or been done
  3. to have a good or desired reaction to something.
It's interesting that there is a positive twist to response when compared to reaction. Though the two wordsare similar, the real difference between the two is quite significant. In choosing to respond to something, you act rationally, whereas reactions are usually filled with emotions.
One blog post even suggested that reactions seems to be defensive. We react when we are uncomfortable with what is being said or done and our emotions take a central role. On the other hand, responding is more thoughtful. Responses generally take a little more time and contain reasoning. They are guided less by emotion and more by logic.
So it's pretty simple which one to choose - and quite often that means either hitting the Delete button or saving a response and walking away when you know it's an emotion-fuelled reaction.

Category: General

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