Give it Five Minutes

(Choose to Respond instead of React)

Author Jason Fried tells the story of hearing a speaker at a conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  While the speaker was speaking, he was “making an inventory” of the things he didn’t agree with.  After Fried met the speaker, he immediately began to express to him the things he didn’t agree with.  Fried then describes how this speaker responded to his criticisms:

It was a simple thing. He said “Man, give it five minutes.” I asked him what he meant by that? He said, it’s fine to disagree, it’s fine to push back, it’s great to have strong opinions and beliefs, but give my ideas some time to set in before you’re sure you want to argue against them. “Five minutes” represented “think”, not react. He was totally right. I came into the discussion looking to prove something, not learn something.

Does this resonate with you?

I text others quite regularly.  One of the downsides of texting is that it is quite easy to react instead of think.  The text comes in and within seconds I can react and sent a reply.  I have learned to pause and think.  Yes, it is tempting to react but a quick reaction does not have near the value of a response that comes after thinking.

One reason why we often have difficulty even having civil conversations with people with whom we disagree is because we have reacted so quickly instead of thinking and then giving a thoughtful response.  This happens in marriages, with our children, and in our churches.

A few suggestions:

  1. In conversations with others at church (or elsewhere), we would do well to listen to their point of view instead of simply reacting.  You might ask, “Would you help me understand your train of thought?  How did you arrive at such a conclusion?”
  2. In meetings with others, with whom we do not agree, we might seek to really understand what they are saying and what is behind their particular concern instead of just reacting.
  3. When talking with our families, we might consider what is at stake when we simply react.  I can recall times when dealing with our children when I did not listen because in my thinking, I was already formulating my response.

Bottom line: Before saying anything, we might just give it “five minutes.”  It can be the difference in reacting and in giving a thoughtful response.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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