Reality Check: The Urgent Request

“Trust you are well and keeping safe. Please I need your urgent assistance. Kindly get back to me. Thanks.”
If you received those words in a message from a friend, what would you do?
You’d probably kindly get back to them, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. You want to help people, especially people whom you consider your friends.
So when I got that message, my response was essentially, “Of course. What do you need?”
The next message gave it all away. My “friend” needed a gift card, urgently, for her niece.
Yeah, right. The likelihood that my friend, who lives in Montreal surrounded by family, friends, and professional colleagues, would reach out to me with an urgent need for a gift card are pretty much zero. Zip. Nada.
The fact that I had responded at all to the initial message reminded me of the power of impulse.
While my naturally skeptical nature prevented further cooperation with the attempted scam, the message, disguised to appear to come from someone I know, had prompted immediate concern for my friend and a wish to help. (My friend is fine, by the way.)
What does this have to do with choices?
Stephen Covey quotes Victor Frankl as saying, “Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose.” Covey suggests that humans have “response-ability”—the ability to choose our response.
It’s so easy to get caught up in “no time to think” urgency. Making conscious choices, rather than impulsively reacting, may take time.
When you want to sell something, urgency can be effective. We’ve all seen, “Time limited offer; Act now!!” But urgency-based marketing isn’t limited to cars, clothes, and gadgets. Urgency is also used to sell ideas and values, such as fear, victimization and helplessness. Urgent calls to action may attempt to appeal more to your emotional reactions than to your well-considered thoughts.
It’s fair to say that in these columns, I am selling something, too. My “sales” efforts are all in the direction of promoting the value of taking charge of your life. Among those encouragements are choosing a perspective that focuses on the positive. There’s also a focus on distinguishing between what you can and can’t control, and encouraging choice-making in the areas that you can control. Plus, there’s the direction of taking actions that help you increase satisfaction and improve relationships. It’s all about making thoughtful, conscious choices rather than automatically responding to urgency.
We do get a reward of sorts when we exercise our response-ability. Think about how you feel after you’ve made a thoughtful, conscious choice. Compare that with the feeling you get when you’ve leapt (or been pushed) into an emotionally-led impulsive decision.
Did that conscious choice give you a sense of control? Is that more satisfying than the feeling that you’ve been coerced into an impulsive decision?
Urgency is just one of many ways in which people attempt to control others. Personal freedom comes with remembering where we have choice—that space between stimulus and response.
Do you ever make unsatisfying choices out of urgency?

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