Most of us have heard of the ‘fight or flight response’, referring to our automatic reaction of fighting or running away when we face a threat.

There are actually five hardwired responses we can have: fight, flight, freeze, flop, and friend.

In a moment of when under threat (physical, mental, or verbal) these responses happen automatically to try and keep us safe.

Let’s consider how we would respond to an angry caller.

Imagine you answer a call, and the caller comes in SHOUTING, LOUD, saying this is wrong and isn’t ready to listen to you.

Let’s see the response for each F

  • Fight – Your response is to attack back. Shout back, tell them to ‘calm down’


  • Flight – You freeze, you don’t know what to say, start feeling anxious, not in control and your response is to flee. You want this to end. You don’t want someone shouting. You hang up on the caller.


  • Freeze – You can’t believe this is happening. You don't know what to do? Can’t move, can’t respond. Stuck.


  • Flop – Oh no, here we go again, what’s the point, they are just going to keep going


  • Friend – You really want to help, but are not sure how to

If we can understand how we may response, and what our response should be, this can help us better respond to and support others.