Respond or React: What’s Your Style?

The Navy’s OSC program provides practical tools that can be used to identify signs of stress and suggest appropriate actions.  We want you to be able to successfully navigate stress at home and at work.  One tool that may help you better navigate through stress is an approach called “Cultivating a Wise Response”.   We hope you’ll find it helpful.


When confronted with a problem or opportunity do you Respond to the whole situation or React to your narrow experience of it?

A Reaction is a reflex –impulsive action focused on a narrow part of the overall situation, usually to the exclusion of larger goals and objectives. Often it is quick and happens without much or any thought – similar to the reflex when the doctor hits your knee with the rubber hammer and your lower leg flips up. It’s an answer to a specific question rather than an answer to the need behind the question.  It’s action based on an awareness of, and a solution for, only a “narrow slice” of the situation.

A Response however, is a wiser course of action, encompassing the complexities of people and circumstances with an unflinching focus on goals and outcomes.  It’s action to accomplish goals based on a more thorough understanding of the whole situation.

Effective employees (Sailors) achieve results because they understand the fundamental difference between a hasty Reaction and a Wise Response. Teach your team to Cultivate a Wise Response with an engaging training and coaching program.

Author:  Dan Clemens ( – Used by permission




Narrow Slice Whole Situation
Knee-jerk Considered
Anxious/Angry/Afraid Calm
I win Nobody loses
Rushed Poised
Quick band aid fix Cure
Few options Many options










When it comes to responding vs. reacting, here are some questions to ask yourself:

1.  What are possible contributions to the situation?

2.  What other information do I need or what assumptions have I made?

3.  What are some options to respond?

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