On Not Responding Right Away

I like to be responsive.

Reach out to me, I want to get back to you as soon as I’m able. We also live in a moment that is charmed silly by fast - hot takes, instant opinions, decisiveness.

So every now and again, I find myself in a speeding trap: feeling the urge to respond - to be done with it, to clean out my inbox, to avoid uncertainty - but knowing that my best thinking only comes with time. Especially with those emails, voicemails, comments that chafe up against my ego or smack a pain point.

To get to fresh, meaty insight, I’ve got to dig through the top crust of humdrum, workaday thoughts. Which means waiting until after lunch to respond or sleeping on it, sometimes for a few nights.

So a three word insight tool that’s helped me fall prey less often to our modern day speeding trap: Sit with it.

Fiery email lands in the inbox, sit with it. Finger-pointing voicemail comes in, sit with it. Blindsided by a comment, sit with it.

This doesn’t make us passive. It makes us prioritizers. What sitting with it does is - to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh - allow the mud to settle and our priorities to become clear. Then, when we do respond, we do so not at the mercy of our knee-jerk reaction, but with the courage of our convictions.

Sitting with it doesn’t make us less responsive. If anything, it can make us kinder, more clear-eyed responders. Which is the kind of responsive I’d like to be.

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