Reacting & Responding

You might have never thought much about it, but when it comes to communication, I think there is a difference between these two all-important words: reacting and responding.

How do I see them as different from one another?

Reacting seems to be more immediate, jumping to conclusions very quickly, and, therefore, this can lead to heated communication. Here there is a lack of wisdom.

Responding, for me, points more to seasoned wisdom, in the sense of not immediately speaking without first thinking through the implications.

For many, this might simply be a case of semantics. But, as I understand communication, these are two quite different words. One is more helpful (responding); one is not as helpful (reacting). This is true in real-life person to person communication and in the midst of the world wide web (we call it the internet today).

As follower of the Christ, I believe we are called to be responders and not reactors, even when righteous anger is called for in the midst of injustice.

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8 thoughts on “Reacting & Responding

  1. I like this. I too think we are called to a higher standard. Wrote something similar a while back in the context of not just telling the truth, but being held to the higher standard of communicating truth.

  2. Yes, I think reacting happens quite a bit in the blogging world – through blog posts and comments. So these thoughts were to speak in both real-life face to face situations and here in the blogging world.

  3. So true of the internet. Most people tend to just react without thinking about what they’re throwing out there. I try to let myself react, but then pause before hitting that send button and seriously reread what I just wrote. Nine times out of ten I need to make some changes because I’m not coming off the way I want to be or the way I should be as a witness for Christ. I think that’s really all it takes — just the wisdom to read what you wrote and edit as needed.

  4. Thank you for this important reminder, Scott!

    I’d like to add that reacting seems to be motivated by a desire to always have the last word or not leaving an impression of being unable to answer. Often it seems that the desire of the one reacting is to bring the discussion to an end (with their comment being the last one).

    Careful responses on the other hand help move the discussion further on. They are usually motivated by a desire to continue discussing with the aim of reaching deeper understanding. The one responding is more interested in broadening their view of truth rather than necessarily winning the debate.

    I often get carried away and start reacting…

  5. Reaction is a term in physics, while responding is something quite different… One doesn’t need to be human at all in order to react. A wall would react on you if you hit it. So, if our responses are no more than reactions, I guess we limit ourselves to a non-human nature.

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