To respond, or to react, that is the question.
When I was a senior in High School I had to memorize Hamlet’s famous to be, or not to be, that is the question soliloquy by Shakespeare. To this day when I think about having to memorize it and present it in front of my whole class I am just as despondent as Hamlet was when he lamented the unfairness of his situation. More often than I would like to admit, I think about Hamlet and his madness; whether it was real or just an act. You may be wondering if I have succumbed to madness because this seems to have nothing to do with being an employment advisor. You may be right, or you may be wrong. It is all about perception. No two people view the same situation the same way.
Lately, I have been struggling with perception and whether I should respond to a situation or react to it. As employment advisors we are held to a professional standard that does not allow us to react to unfavorably to nasty or negative comments or situations, we are expected to respond accordingly. Unfortunately, I have had several situations arise over the last couple weeks that have tested my feelings regarding reacting vs. responding.
It is human nature to want to defend people and situations you are close to as well as defend yourself from out of line comments. When situations like those happen you have to ask yourself, “do I respond or do I react?” Would it be professional to cut someone off mid-rant and tell them that their comments are out of line and inappropriate or would it be better to allow them to continue their comments and then inform them that they are inappropriate? Would your words loose power if you took time to reflect and then responded instead of reacting right away? Could you be as effective as you need to be if you never spoke up and corrected those in need of correction? A major part of our jobs is getting those we serve job ready, are we doing anyone any favors by not correcting behaviors that will hamper or alienate them from employment?
I have found that trying to find a balance between the two is trickier than we think. We like to think that we were all socialized the same way. That we all inherited and disseminate the same norms and customs that provide us with the skills and habits necessary to participate within our own society. However, in situations where I realize that socialization did not occur I am left wondering WWHD (what would Hamlet do)? “Do I respond or do I react?”