The Sky is Falling….Not really!


The Impact of Reactive Behaviour in the Workplace

I am sure everyone at one point in their career has experienced the “sky is falling behaviour”. It may have been something simple a person said or something that a client did. All of a sudden, people and teams start reacting, running around, trying to “fix” the problem or at least, the perception of one.

Being reactive can give you an illusion of accomplishment because lots of activity happens in a very short period of time. The adrenaline starts to flow, you might even become more focused and actually accomplish more work than you normally would in a typical day. However, working reactively is a short-term way of operating since it relies on the body’s fight-or-flight energy system, a system that is actually intended to be used for short periods of time (when we are in life threatening situations). Operating in a reactive mode is costly to an organization in lost business opportunities, employee burnout and turn-over.

The challenge is that many people confuse being reactive with being responsive and since being reactive is addictive, it’s often hard for people to break the reactive cycle to become more responsive in their actions and thoughts.

Here are some strategies that will help you remain focused and responsive when facing a potentially reactive situation.  

Big Breath

This is something I learned years ago when I was studying yoga. Simplify being aware of your breath and focusing on breathing from your abdomen, automatically shifts you from being reactive to being more responsive during a challenging situation. This is an actual skill U.S. Navy Seals learn during their training in order to remain calm and present during any challenge they face.

Be Prepared

There is a reason that this is the motto of the Boy Scouts. When you are prepared, you already have a plan in place and the resources to deal with potential challenges that could arise. Even if the plan doesn’t go off 100%, being prepared still gives you the ability to be agile and adaptive rather than reactive.

Reference Points

When you sense a situation is becoming reactive, refer back to strategic goals or personal objectives. Simply stopping for a minute to reflect on this will ensure that you and your team stay on course and don’t get caught up in the potentially reactive nature of the situation.

Employee burnout, turn-over and disengagement are signs that you may have a reactive work culture, potentially costing your organization thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars. By avoiding the “sky is falling” reactive behaviour, your employees will be able to perform at their best.

All the best in achieving your highest performance,


Image courtesy of Ambro at