React or Respond? Which Do You Do?

Do you React or Respond? Which are you?

Or does it just depend on your mood, the situation, who the person is, how you react or respond?

Under the heading of full disclosure…. most of the time, I react.  That doesn’t mean that everyone sees it. Especially when it comes to dealing with customers on my Etsy shop, rarely do I have questions from people on my website that make me crazy.

I get so irritated when I have spent hours writing EVERYTHING on my shop that a customer needs to know. My digital graphics aren’t real paper, they will be automatically emailed within 5 minutes,  you can’t get a refund once you have downloaded them, check your spam folder, all of my terms of use, etc, etc…. and then they don’t take the time to READ it!  So, I have to waste MY time, responding to questions that are clearly already answered- so what happens when I get one of these?  I REACT- and usually badly, I SCREAM at my computer, I cuss, I yell, I say things like “Why don’t you just READ you stupid idiot”…and other things that are much worse and I don’t care to share, because you would think really badly of me.

Thank goodness they can’t see me.  And THEN I respond, nicely, as if I hadn’t just thrown a vase across the room, kicked a hole in the wall, hurt my vocal chords and scared the dogs so much they run under the bed.  It isn’t so much the questions, I always appreciate people that are trying to make sure that they stay within my terms of use (and yes they are quite long now, since they have been violated so much), but the ones that say, “I didn’t get my download”.  Well, yes you did, twice- did you read anything?  That stuff- drives me CRAZY!!! as my husband says, “short drive”, but nevertheless.  I also KNOW, I am not the only one. Some of my members on My Friend Beth tell me they do the same thing….sometimes. I am impatient, I am an artist, I get nuts, but mostly I just get angry when someone thinks their time is more valuable than mine.

But, back to the response. When I respond kindly, gently and take the time to answer all of their questions, for the most part, they are so appreciative- and yes, then I feel like a jerk.

So what happens when it isn’t on the computer? How do you react or respond in REAL time?

When someone is rude when driving, and gets mad at you for NOTHING you did, or breaks in front of you in line? Or a million other things rude people do. Do you react or respond?

I am not so different than on my computer. I get mad, but they rarely know it. I don’t give the finger to rude drivers, (however I may be thinking worse things than I do when on my computer), generally I ignore them. If someone breaks in line, or pulls in the parking place you have been waiting on WITH YOUR BLINKER ON for 5 minutes, what then?  I usually fume- internally and just don’t say anything. Now don’t think that I am a pushover, or shy or not able to handle the situation – anyone that knows me knows that I will take care of myself or anyone else that is being taken advantage of, but in these situations, it is just usually not worth the energy or the effort. In these instances, I don’t react or respond, I just usually IGNORE the ignorant, rude person.

But what about when someone gets mad at you for something YOU did do wrong? Do you respond or react?

For instance, if you accidentally pulled in front of someone you didn’t see, or you sent them the wrong item or misspelled something, or a million other little things that you might actually be at fault for, and they get MAD at you, and maybe they act terribly, what then? Do you react or respond?

If you are even remotely human, I bet your first thought is to defend yourself, especially if someone is attacking you first, without even giving you the benefit of the doubt that you will indeed handle the situation properly.

For instance, if you accidentally cut someone off, and they flip you the bird, and then you wave and shake your head and mouth “I’m so sorry”, most of the time, they smile, wave back and say “I’m sorry too”.  If you gave them the finger right back, it could turn into a terrible case of road rage- ya know. As my mother has always said, “kill them with kindness”.  And it works. Who can be hateful and mean to someone that is doing their best to be helpful and kind?  Okay, don’t answer that, I know there are people, and I know you have to deal with them, but I am talking about the majority of the normal people.  If you smile at them, if you apologize and own up to your mistake, or your misjudgment or your momentary lack of sanity, MOST of the time, people will back down, no matter how mad, and then they will become calmer and more rational and usually everything will work out for the best.

So, think about it the next time someone treats you badly, take a breath, give it a minute and then decide, do I want to be reactive or rational and respond like a sane person.  I wish I could tell you that I could master this, I can out in the world, but online….. I am afraid this will always be me.


Be better than me.  And let me know in the comments if you react or respond and what the results have been.



  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this article. Came at just the right time for so many reasons. Although, your words of wisdom usually do. Thank you for being such an incredible mentor. xo

  2. Great article Beth! I sell at a print-on-demand site, so thankfully, I don’t generally deal with the public directly. However, in my real life freelancing, I’ve learned to be a bit picky who I work with, and won’t let myself be taken advantage of (or made crazy!) if I can help it. I’ve also come to realize that a lot of people simply don’t have comprehension skills. I always charge for comps and get a deposit. In non-business situations, I’ve learned to pick my battles whenever possible, try to ignore stupidity, and hopefully share some knowledge here and there. Thankfully I have a network of supportive friends and family who let me vent without judging when I need to…priceless!

    • Thanks Tanya! I wish I could learn to ignore stupidity- but it makes me crazy….thus the reactive part. And not sure if most of the time it is really stupidity or laziness, and in that case I really go crazy when it seems to me other people think their time is more valuable than mine and instead of reading the information I already have or God forbid, GOOGLING something on their own, they ask me- because it is simply easier! Glad you have good people to vent to- I do too- I am not sure they really are glad- but they listen!! Thanks for the comment- I love hearing how other people deal with things, and it seems I am not alone in this at all!

  3. My latest:
    “Why can’t I use your png files they are not working”

    What program are you using?

    “Windows live photo gallery”

    Nope Nope Nope, that is not a graphic editing program.

  4. The reaction to my responses are much the same as you Beth !!
    I sell on eBay – and it quite clearly displays a post and delivery time – so when I then get an email stating that they are required in 2 days time – a very important event – life would not be worth living without them !! – my response is panic panic – drop everything – bring their sale to the top of the queue – bust a gut running to the post office, just because ‘the customer’ is always right !! And then they don’t even bother to leave a feedback !! Sooooo annoying – but I find vast amounts of chocolate and alcohol calms the nerves after one of these days !! x

    • Thank goodness for chocolate and alcohol Eve!!! LOL And why do we react this way? Terrified of bad feedback? Over-pleasers? I know I am- when I had my stationery business I would work 20 hour days just to please everyone- it’s no wonder I was exhausted and wanted out after 7 years. And I am and always will be a pleaser, it is just my nature and seems to be the nature of most of the creatives I know- so drink up and I am toasting you with Hershey kisses!!

  5. Thank goodness for email!! I have the time to react privately, then gather my thoughts and send back a well-thought-out reply. One that does not back down, but tries to explain the situation as is while telling the customer that I understand that they are frustrated. I’ve had so many people ask me to create proofs for them before any purchase has been made. Then, they want revisions and corrections and then THEY NEVER PURCHASE!! Well, of course that shows that I was doing things all wrong to begin with, so no more of that. I think some customers think you are so desperate for a sale that you have all day to spend on their $5.49 order! I am usually super friendly and warm to all my customers, but I am so thankful that they cannot see my face or hear my comments when I first get some of their requests/comments. You really do wonder why they don’t seem to read the listing! By the way, 95% of my customers are super wonderful, friendly and appreciative of my service (which wouldn’t be possible without the talented designers like yourself, thanks!!)

    • Thanks Mary! And I think you are right about people thinking we are desperate for sales. The thing that bugs me most is that I KNOW they wouldn’t go in a store and DEMAND or ask for the things they do with internet sales. They would be laughed out of the store. My husband NEVER does a proof for anyone in his store until he has a deposit, because he has to pay the company he is ordering from because they don’t do them for free. Most of their proofs cost more than you are charging for the finished product. And luckily we do have time to respond AFTER we get our reaction out of our system!

  6. Loved the article. I firmly believe the following:
    You are always responsible for how you act, no matter how you feel.

    • You are 100% right Patricia! You are responsible for everything you say and do. More people need to remember this!

  7. Sadly, I react to the ones I should be responding to and respond to ones I should be flipping off!

    • These days I seem to be reacting more and responding less, I guess I have just had my fill, but thank goodness I have time to respond AFTER I react privately!

  8. Wow, I could not agree with you more, Beth! You are so spot on! I get a short fuse too when people do not read everything I have taken the time to write and chew down to bite size pieces! LOL! People are plain lazy!

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