You can use 7, 8 or 10 seconds, whatever it takes to get you to slow down and think before reacting. Reacting can include speaking, facial expressions (frowning), body language (like rolling your eyes) and reflex physical movement (waving arms). Taking the time to pause, breathe and think first, can make all the difference in the world.
When you respond too quickly, you run the risk of saying or doing something you may regret. Our personal relationships can suffer the most when instantaneous reactions come before thinking them through.
The next time you are facing a confrontation, an argument or hard to handle news, try to stop for those 8 seconds and think about what you are feeling and why. Before replying think clearly if what you are about to say will be helpful or hurtful.
Putting yourself in the other’s persons shoes can also bring needed perspective. Most of the time, the upset or angry person is mad at themselves too. Their frustration may be thrust in your direction even if you are not the root cause.
Empathy can help play a large role in perception. Instead of becoming defensive, think of what the main issue might truly be. Reaching out with comfort and genuine listening can defuse a negative situation and potentially turn it positive.