Respond, Don't React

Been thinking a lot about this lately, this line is my gold right now.


I tend to take things personal, get mad or frustrated when I encounter with certain situations. And that is totally due to me reacting to the situation. To me, respond is problem solving, it's productive, it's rational; react is your unconscious defense mechanisms, it's your projection, it's rather destructive. Another thing about reaction is it's so instinct you don't even notice it most of the time.

As a designer, our work get criticized all the time. During school, we have design critics few times per semester, professionals would come into our studio and critic our work. Design and art school does that to prepare students for the real world. Once you start working, our work get criticized by other designers, senior designers, principles and clients all the time.


Trust me, most of us react. I surely did and still are, it's hard not to! I feel vulnerable by exposing my ideas in front of people. I feel defensive when they questioning things I already thought through, or questioning my ideas or solutions. I'm sure I cried after critics during school, not really remember anymore. I sure saw my classmates cry during those critics. I sure saw students cry when I'm in the jury's seat. I am also cried at work as well because of the critics. Okay, you see now I cry a lot, what a cry baby! Did crying solved any of my problems? No, it did not! It just made me feel bad, doubted myself, trash talked myself and had super swollen eye next day. Nothing productive.


“the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything.” - Bill Murray

To not take things personal and not being defensive is not to react. Take a back seat, pull yourself out of it. Pause and take 3 deep breath before respond. Looking at the situation above, then you will see the whole situation more clear. As for ideas, no one owns your ideas, you can take their suggestions or leave it. Even if you took their suggestions, or you have to change your design because of a different opinions, it doesn't mean you don't have good ideas. Your ideas are still yours, take full ownership and trust yourself.


This is not easy, but practice makes perfect! Practice this often and you will notice the difference in no time. I've seen some small changes in me lately by practice this, I'm sure you will too!