4 scenarios. Choose your reaction.
You’re participating in your company’s annual volleyball tournament and after hard work, dedication and a bunch of bruises to show for it, you made it to the finals where you’ll be facing the team that has been undefeated for the past three years. What’s your reaction?
- Panic and worry but hope for the best 22.2%
- Get extra motivated 40.7%
- Indifferent (just another team to beat) 33.3%
- Other 3.7%
You wake up to a phone call from your mom and get the news that your only living grandparent has passed away in his sleep. The memories of you and your grandfather circle in your head. What’s your reaction?
- Cry instantly at the thought of not seeing him ever again 22.2%
- Get angry and question the universe 3.7%
- Isolate yourself from friends and family to grieve over the death yourself 33.3%
- Go out and surround yourself with the people you love to feel better 29.6%
- Other 11.1%
You just graduated and have been applying to jobs for six months now and finally landed an interview at your dream company. You stop by Starbucks to grab a coffee only to have it spill on you while driving to the interview. What’s your reaction?
- Get angry/frustrated about what just occurred 22.2%
- Cry and call a friend to vent 3.7%
- Stay calm and think of a solution 51.9%
- Laugh because… story of your life 14.8%
- Give up and postpone the interview 0%
- Other 7.4%
Your boss has asked you to present the next collaboration initiative to potential partners. You have a week to prepare for it but a family emergency suddenly comes up and you run out of time to prepare for it. You have 15 minutes left before you begin the presentation and you know you’re not prepared. What’s your reaction?
- Panic but try your best 32.0%
- Stay calm and go with the flow 64.0%
- Other 4.0%
As shown above, how we react to situations varies from person to person. Some factors that come into play are:
- Genetic Makeup/Heredity
- Mental State
Culture. The culture we are raised in has a big impact on our emotions and reactions. Culture provides guidelines, rules, structure and values. Each culture contains display rules. Display rules are the permissible ways of displaying emotions in a particular society. For example, children in Asian countries are often taught to mask any negative emotions whereas children in America are often taught to express them. Therefore, reactions to certain situations will vary.
Environment. Our past and present environments are one of the factors that influence our reaction to certain stimuli. A fragile or unstable environment may cause us to want stability in our life; therefore, unpredictability will frighten us. Or a secure environment that promotes happiness over winning may allow us to stay calm in sport competitions over ones that grew up in an environment that states anything below first is failing.
Experience. Some situations will cause us to to feel or instantly react without even thinking about it because it triggers a memory. For example, some people may have experienced multiple deaths in the family so when another death occurs, such as the grandparent mentioned above, they may grieve differently than someone who has never had a death in the family before. Essentially, the processing (not necessarily the pain) varies though the stimulus is the same. Or someone who has never had someone close to them to cry with may find comfort being alone after such an experience.
Genetic Makeup/Heredity. Emotional characteristics found to be most influenced by heredity are: shyness, extroversion, neuroses and anxiety, to name a few. Some may have a genetic predisposition to addiction, depression or other diseases if triggered by certain environmental stimuli. As these are tendencies, they can change overtime as other factors contribute to our overall personality and reactions.
Beliefs. Beliefs and perception on society, people, religion, God, love and more are all influential factors in regards to our responses to particular scenarios. What we believe will influence how we react.
Mental State. If the death of the grandparent happens the same day the coffee spills on us, we would act much differently than if it was on any other day. Or, if we easily win the semi-finals of the volleyball tournament without a sweat, we may be more confident in the finals. Our mental state at the time the stimulus occurs is a significant factor of our response towards that stimulus.
We all respond to certain stimuli differently depending on a variety of factors. Some don’t stress where they have no control over the situation whereas others stress over every little thing. Or some grieve silently while others need friends and family to make the process easier. And if after a break-up, some get angry while others stay quiet and go back to their routine life, that does not necessarily imply some care more than the other, it illustrates that our processing is vastly diverse. By taking the above factors into consideration and knowing that the same stimulus can cause a variety of reactions, we can understand why some people are the way they are, do what they do and feel what they feel.
Read my next post: Forgiveness and its impact on the soul
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