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Some of us are quicker to react to comments or actions than others of us and I always appreciate those who are more careful than not about responses. While this doesn’t exactly correspond to spontaneity, it takes a special talent to be fast-thinking without reacting too quickly.

Here’s an example: Last week I was in a situation where a self-empowered and over-zealous guest teacher issued rapid-fire and extremely impolite instructions for a simple and entirely mundane task. My first reaction was to suggest that she enroll in a personnel interaction mediation.

Yes, this would have been a major overreaction and unproductive comment. More importantly, it probably wouldn’t increase my apparent value to the school. Consequently, I said nothing and dutifully followed her directives.

Our first responses aren’t necessarily the best ones. Issuing any type of gestures to rude and unsafe drivers may cause us to feel useful or vindicated but they can also be dangerous.

Normal, unexceptional daily life also creates opportunities to do the wrong first thing that you consider. Instead of saying, “I’ve already told you that at least three times,” it’s a good idea simply to issue the information for the fourth time.

In the classroom, holding out for the second (or third) action is crucial. Sometimes the most intelligent students ask the most ridiculous questions: Do we all have to go to lunch? It’s Friday – do we have school tomorrow? Mrs. Regular Teacher said she was gone for the day – is she going to be back this afternoon?

Too many factors prevent us from the obvious or frequently sarcastic response. The child may have a memory/learning disorder. They may have home issues that prohibit understanding. Or maybe they didn’t hear the original statement.

And so, as I age, I retain my perspective and sense of humor. The kids and adults in my world, I hope, will receive commentary from me that is considered and considerate. Shalom.

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