I heard this story the other day and I thought it was very very good. During the Vietnam war, whenever a burst of gunfire was nearby the commander would jump on the radio to the bunker under fire to see what was happening. The response from the bunker was often very loud, very fast and not very clear. A response might be “we’re under fire. It’s coming from everywhere, we are going to be overrun any second”. The commander would then redeploy resources to get ready for the upcoming battle. The commander noticed that the initial message from the bunker was not always very accurate. Then the commander trained himself not to jump on the radio for 10-15 seconds after hearing the burst of gunfire. With the short lapse in time, a much clearer picture of what was happening would emerge. Sometimes the response from the bunker was similar but other times it was something like “no worries that was just a misfire at our end” or “that was just Dave shooting a rat”. Now what do you do when you hear something that could be damaging? Do you immediately come up with a perceived solution? Does your mouth make promises your body can’t keep? Why don’t you practice not responding to everything immediately? Take a few moments, gather your thoughts and I’d virtually guarantee your decision making will improve. It will also help you to act more calmly in the workplace and at home.
So tonight when you go home if you hear “I can’t believe how much noise you made this morning and you woke the whole house”, your response is going to be preceded with a pause (maybe a couple of nice long breaths). So if you are picking tonight’s dinner out of the bin, it may be because you forgot this very valuable tip.