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Kerry Lee Doehr

An Event Pro's Guide to Reacting vs. Responding

Producing special events is stressful even on a good day; here are tips on reacting vs. responding.

The ability to react to life-threatening or potentially physically harmful situations is a good skill to have. But I am not addressing that type of “reacting” here. I speak to the everyday issues in our personal and professional lives--issues that are constantly clamoring for our attention every time we turn around. And many that are, in fact, seemingly worthy of immediate reaction, if not downright panic.

The worst way to decide an emotional issue is emotionally. Reacting is generally based entirely in emotions in a knee-jerk response manner. Emotions can often cloud all the practical information we need to make a decision that values others--and ourselves.

Reacting can lead to decisions that have you sacrificing the most important and essential priorities in your life: family, business, finances--and your own well-being.

Reacting says, “This must take priority over everything, and you must stop what you are doing to take care of this right now.” And it generally induces anxiety, panic and fear if it is not done on a certain immediate time frame.

Reacting can sometimes play on ego and makes people think that they will be the hero if they react the way they are expected to by others.

Reacting can sometimes play on peer pressure and what others will think of you if you do not make a certain decision a certain way in a certain time frame. Or worse, that you are not a part of a group or industry if you do not react the same way and in the same time as everyone else. 

Reacting does not necessarily guarantee that the original problem will be permanently dealt with in the long run, so it is important to ask how much you are willing to sacrifice to potentially not have the problem fully handled in the end. 

On the other hand …

Responding allows you to lead with your heart, well-grounded. It allows you to consider all the ramifications of the consequences of your decision. It is non-emotional, even if it is heart-centered, and it is never panicked.

Most importantly, responding does not force you to abandon your core values, priorities, finances or own well-being in the process.

To respond is to know your own core values and life priorities and to make a decision on an organic time frame that is timely and respectful of others. Further, it is a time frame that is aligned with these values first and foremost and values everyone- including and especially yourself.  

Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."

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