Emotional intelligence: How to reply, not react (and ditch the drama)

Take a second (Picture: Getty/

Ever end up simply snapping?

You say one thing you nearly instantly remorse. Tears appear to pop up for no cause. You’re in a complete panic and don’t know why.

This is an emotional response. It’s pure, it’s regular, but it surely’s not a really enjoyable expertise.

Instead, it brings every kind of stress and drama to your life.

When you’re emotionally reactive, it may well really feel such as you’re on a relentless rollercoaster of highs, lows, regrets, and cleansing up errors. It’s draining, too.

The reply isn’t to close your self off – feeling your emotions is an excellent factor – however to be taught to course of feelings in a more healthy, much less drama-filled, approach.

That’s studying to reply, not react.

What does it imply to reply, not react?

‘Reacting is typically quicker, an immediate impulsive “action”,’ explains Counselling Directory member Jo Kierstead, ‘whereas responding is when we’ve frolicked contemplating what we truly wish to do subsequent.’

‘Responding is more empowering because it’s extra deliberate and means we are able to take possession of difficult conditions, somewhat than them taking possession of us,’ she provides.

Responding makes you are feeling extra in management. You’re making a call on how you’ll cope with a problem, somewhat than letting a scenario and the feelings it brings up overwhelm you.

‘Simply put, when it comes to our communications, a reaction is instinctive and immediate – a bit like a reflex, or the proverbial knee jerk, a response is more reasoned and thought through,’ Dr Audrey Tang tells

Feel your emotions, however don’t allow them to overwhelm you (Picture: Getty/

‘As a very basic example, if you have ever added a “that’s not what I meant” asterisk after a remark or textual content, or struggled for the “undo” button following urgent ship (or chastising your self for not activating it, as a result of “recall” nonetheless means folks have seen the e-mail!) – you might be prone to have reacted somewhat than responded.

‘Responses may still have mistakes, but you have often taken a moment to not only construct a clear reply – but process what was actually being said (communication is only ever as good as the message received, after all.’

As we are saying, reacting isn’t a foul factor, however while you’re continually on the sting of sturdy reactions, it may be damaging.

Jo says: ‘Strong emotions can be very stressful and can cause us to react in a way that isn’t all the time finest. We typically make poor decisions that we could later remorse, taking a scenario from dangerous to worse.

‘This cycle of behaviour often leaves us feeling hurt, misunderstood and isolated, and when it happens again and again, it erodes our mental health.’

So, how will we get away of this cycle?

How to start out responding, not reacting

Ground your self (Picture: Getty/

In the second

Simple: press pause.

‘Even some of the smallest, subtlest of things can give us the interruption we need to reduce the intensity of the situation,’ Jo recommends. ‘You might try moving your body deliberately (rolling your shoulders or stretching your neck), changing your gaze, taking a sip of water, hearing yourself say a private mantra in your head, recalling a good memory, taking a shower – whatever it is, as long as it’s led by you, it offers you management and invitations house to consider what’s occurring for you, and the way you want to transfer ahead.’

Excuse your self for a second – it’s completely okay to say to somebody who has upset you that that you must take a while away so that you don’t react in a approach you remorse.

Reactions occur quick. Do what you’ll be able to to gradual issues down and provides your self a minute to assume earlier than you reply.


‘This sort of work needs to be done outside the point of crisis,’ notes Audrey.

If you discover your emotional reactions really feel fully uncontrolled, or are having a really harmful influence in your life, converse to an expert – it may be actually highly effective to get the foundation of what causes you to react the best way you do, develop a greater understanding of your self, and have correct help to altering the best way you reply.

There are some issues you are able to do solo, although, if you wish to be much less reactive, extra responsive.

‘We need to find healthy ways to self-soothe or ground ourselves in times of stress, so that we know we can defuse some of the tension we are experiencing, feel less overwhelmed and have space to be more responsive and make better choices,’ recommends Jo.

‘Ways we can support ourselves to be less reactive include practising a breathing technique, meditation, exercise, learning to ask for help, sharing our experiences with others, writing our experiences down.’

Audrey seconds this, recommending that we discover strategies that may permit for calm and a short retreat from no matter stressor we’re dealing with.

She says: ‘Research has additionally proven that common “calming” practices – meditation, or exercising together with strolling, getting out into nature, gratitude follow, in addition to joyful pursuit corresponding to holding a “positivity carousel” of comfortable images which you have a look at typically, and stroking a pet can all contribute to decrease ranges of cortisol being launched on the level of stress.

‘Try having pre-prepared phrases that you may practise, corresponding to “I want to deal with this, but need to do so when I can give it my full attention”, or “I will revert to you on that at xxx”, or just excusing your self and simply taking your self to a unique setting can dissipate a few of the stress of the second.

‘Focusing on the info of the matter can even assist scale back a few of the emotional stress.

‘The lovely “Thought stopping” technique from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is great if you are in a moment of strong emotion/overthinking on your own and that is simply saying STOP out loud, where again the verbalisation has the effect of breaking a negative train of thought.’

‘Anything goes really,’ provides Jo, ‘as long as it’s comforting and invitations time to be calm… after which assume!’

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