We’ve all been there. You just found out the project you’ve been working on for three months (multiple stakeholders, team members and late nights) has been defunded. What will you do in that moment? Despite the pain inside, what will you say out loud?

Personal development guru Zig Ziglar put it this way: Imagine going to the doctor for medication and returning for a follow-up visit. In one case the doctor says you are reacting to the medication, in the other case the doctor says you are responding to the treatment.

See the difference? Now let’s work on behavior in the workplace.

    1. Breathe and choose. Take a couple full breaths. Give yourself space. Give your thoughts space. This will slow down your fight-or-flight response. Then choose what to say next.
    2. Think big picture. Forget immediate changes, think long-term ramifications. What is the consequence? In the big picture, how much does this matter?
    3. Create some hindsight. Think of it like time travel. Picture yourself two weeks or even two hours from this  moment. Will you look back and have regrets? If so, chances are you’re about to react instead of respond.
    4. Get self-aware. Is this about you? Is this personal? Or is it about a bigger group with more strategic intention? This often rounds out a reaction and turns it into a response.