Responding vs. Reacting

Here’s an old Zig Ziglar story I’ve been thinking about:


You get sick and go to see your doctor. The good doctor prescribes some medication and asks you to come back in a week. Upon your return, if the doctor says, “Uh-oh, it looks like your body is reacting to the medication,” that’s a bad thing. Conversely, if the doctor says, “Wow – you’re looking great! Your body really responded well to the medication,” that’s a good thing. The takeaway is that responding is positive, and reacting is negative. 


Normally, this parable is told from the patient’s perspective as a way to nudge people towards being responsive and not reactive to events in their lives. There is a mindset difference that comes from being accepting of events and responding to them, compared to being confrontational with events and reacting to them. But, what about the doctor’s perspective?


As professionals, our clients and customers are our patients. It’s not enough to just say “respond don’t react” for ourselves, we have to think about how our advice, guidance, and treatments will impact the respond/react impulses of others. Diagnosing and treating the ailments others are experiencing means there are more layers to this proverbial onion. That’s hard work.


Good professionals don’t just keep themselves aligned with the respond mindset, they keep their diagnosis, treatments, and patients aligned as well. No panicking, no feeling bad, and a lot – and seriously, A LOT – of listening to what the patient is saying. 


Zig offered us a great parable. The truth about being the doctor may make things harder, but that’s why they call it being a professional. Rise to the higher standard.

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