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Pause, Reflect and Respond

Posted in Communication skills,Featured,Managing our emotions by Rashmi Datt on November 11th, 2011

Once the jungle was ruled by a lion who was impartial, scrupulous and straightforward in his dealings. The one thing that the animals found difficult to reconcile with was he could not be defeated when he hunted for food, which meant that they lived in constant terror. They did not know which friend or relative they might lose as the day began. So they put together a proposal to the boss—every day they would draw lots and send one animal as his meal. The lion agreed, and while he understood his fellow-creatures’ anguish, he also knew that the food chain was the way of the jungle, and it could not be wished away.

Unknown to the lion, a conspiracy was afoot to get rid of him, started by a group of rebel rabbits. The plan was to lead him to an old well by trickery and have him jump to his death.

One day, the lion waited in his den patiently for his food, wondering why the designated animal had not turned up yet. As he became hungrier, he wondered what the matter was. ‘Surely there must be a valid reason. These good fellows have always been true to their word. I hope no problem has befallen them,’ he thought, refusing to become agitated.

So, when a cheeky little fellow came along, the lion greeted him with quiet concern. ‘Is everything all right? Why are you late?’

The panting rabbit took a few deep breaths and bowed. ‘Sire, what can I tell you? There were two more rabbits that were to accompany me to be your meal for today. Because as you know, we look up so much to you that we would not dare disrespect you by sending you a mere mouthful of a rabbit. But on the way, an unbelievable thing happened.’

‘Yes, go on’, the lion prompted.

‘We met another lion. He said he was larger and mightier than you, and claimed to be the rightful king of the jungle. In fact it was he who gobbled up the other two rabbits. If you like, I will take you to him. He lives in a fortress beneath the ground and has dared you to enter it.’

The lion listened thoughtfully and did not react rashly. He said, ‘Sure, I would love to meet him, but not fight him. I would like to enjoy a game of chess with him. Tell me where he lives and I will go to him after my meal.’

In the original Panchatantra, the lion rushes off to meet ‘the larger and mightier lion’ and meets his downfall as he jumps into the well. In our lives, we too we encounter several tipping points when our emotions (usually anger and anxiety) hijack us into behaviour which lead us away from our goals.
- Swearing, shouting furiously at a fellow commuter on the road and picking up a fight.  What are we really achieving except to ruin our mood and the rest of the day and possibly risk retaliation?

-Writing an angry mail to a colleague who we perceive is being uncommunicative or uncooperative. What are we really achieving except to burn bridges when the fact is that you have to continue working with him in the foreseeable future?

-Talking negatively behind the boss’ back because we are angry with him. What are we really achieving except to be known as a person who has poor verbal discipline, who cannot get along with a colleague? The reality is at some time or the other, word will reach him of your disrespectful comments.

What we need to do is : Pause, Reflect and Respond: Instead of reacting, which is simply letting your actions happen impulsively and thoughtlessly, you can choose to respond consciously and deliberately. When you control your behaviour, you have exercised that special faculty that makes you human, namely choice of action based on rational thought.


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