The Cockroach Theory – React vs Respond

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Have you heard the famous cockroach theory story?
Let me share with you.

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.
In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.
When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Lessons learnt from the story:

Was the cockroach responsible for the outburst by both the ladies & the waiter?

If so, why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it calmly and solved the issue before it aggravates. He responded.

As for the ladies, it is not the cockroach BUT the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies. They reacted.

There are clear differences between reactions and responses. Each will generate different outcomes.

Reactions are often instinctive. Responses are often well-thought.

Reactions are often taken on impulse and this results to situations that we tend to regret.

Responses are well thought of and result to solving the problem. That’s exactly what we want to end the problem!

So if you are bothered by problems, don’t REACT. Instead, RESPOND!


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