When you are faced with a decision do you make a Snap Decision or a calculated and Measured Response?

Different situations can call for one or the other. If you are driving and someone steps into the street or a car veers your direction you will need to implement a quick response. If your customer calls or your boss stops by and wants an update on a project. Again, you will need to be on your toes and provide a quick response. Albeit, in this second case you will need to know the context, perhaps look something up or confer with others. But, you will be expected to have a quick response.

Pro-Tip: Responding quickly is a skill developed in Toastmasters.

The Measured Response

There are other situations where you have more time. Perhaps too much time, but more time nonetheless. For example, if you are asked a question or given some information that requires you to reflect upon your response. You should do that. The suggestion in this post is … You should reflect upon your response before clicking send or speaking too soon. Otherwise you risk blurting something out that may come back to haunt you. Take the time to make a Measured Response. Remember, Responding Well is an Art Form. Below I will describe The 3 S’s to consider when creating a Measured Response.

Have you ever been given bad news?

  • You didn’t get the promotion?
  • Your project is going to be discontinued?
  • You didn’t get the order?

Did you feel like you had to say something? Sometimes you do need to provide a response. Was your first reaction to blurt something out?  Before Blurting … Consider a Measured Response. Remember — Graciousness goes a long way.

And the old adage from your mother applies here too:

If you don’t have something nice to say … Don’t say anything at all.

But what about those times where you have to provide a response. The suggestion of this post is … Make it a Measured Response.

Consider The Three S’s as you consider your (measured) response:

  • Source
  • Situation
  • Scenarios

When Crafting a Measured Response:

My suggestion is to think about the Three S’s.

  • Consider the Source – Where does the person or team asking the question fit in the big picture. Let that guide your response.
  • Understand the Current Situation – What are the underlying factors? Who are the players? Look at the big picture.
  • Envision Scenarios – Think through a few scenarios. Perhaps something as simple as a Good – Better – Best scenario or a little more complicated with a BATNA option.

As you consider and evaluate the three S’s you will have a better chance to shape and get the response that works for you.

Of course, There may be no single response that is always going to be right. That’s life. And sometimes it’s more effective and pragmatic to just give the black and whiteyes or no response. As you get better at creating and crafting Measured Responses your skill at assessing situations and the likely reaction from the other parties will improve.

In my case … There are many times I just want a Yes or a No. I don’t need or want the pre-amble or post-amble. Just tell me. There are other times I do want to know the thinking behind the decision.

Remember. Responding Well is an Art Form. It takes practice. It takes thinking. And when done right will enhance your reputation, your career and your leadership skills.


Jeff  is a veteran in the Enterprise Content Management industry. Over the past 20 years he has worked with customers and partners to design, develop and deploy solutions around the world. Jeff is currently the Director of Strategic Alliances at Winshuttle. He has worked for Microsoft, FileNet (IBM), K2, Captaris, Open Text, Kofax and Kodak. He speaks and blogs about ECM and the Intersection between Social, Mobile and Cloud Computing.