Reaction (noun): the result of an action which has a specific, identifiable cause.

To act is to control yourself according to your desires/dictates/values/etc.

To react is to act according to external stimulus, often in a way which may be against what your act would be were you not stimulated.

When someone does something to get your goat, you may choose to act or react. By choosing to act you are keeping control of yourself, emotionally, physically, etc. You are determining your response, if any, and doing so in a wise manner which will allow you to continue to act rather than react.

If, in the same situation, you react, you are essentially allowing the person goading you to control your actions.

Take any one of the tens of thousands of emotionally charged nodes on e2. Read the statements. Are these people acting in a way which shows they are in control of themselves, or are they instead reacting to the original post, the title of the node, or to each other?

Often people goad others not to see 'how far they can be pushed', but instead to exert control over the individual they are goading. This can be very self gratifying for those who have low self esteem themselves, but know how to push peoples buttons. While their values may be skewed, they are acting rather than reacting (at least initially).

What can you do? Well, there are many good practical ways to avoid reacting and start acting (such as count to ten when upset, controlling anger, etc), the root of the problem lies in your perception of what the other person is doing or is trying to communicate. If they are trying to upset you - realize what it is they are doing and ignore inflamatory comments. You know they are trying to goad you, so why let them control you? Their statements are false shells which are intended to upset you, not to communicate with you. Perhaps they don't realize what they're doing. You can start by telling them that their communication patterns are aggravating for you - this is acting, instead of reacting.

This is one of the tenets of business communcation.