Anger ends business relationships so learn how to deal with the emotion

One day, a wise monk was walking through a village. A very angry and rude young man came up and began insulting him. The monk continued his walk, paying no attention to the insults, and the young man grew enraged at being ignored.

“Why don’t you say something?” he demanded. “How can you keep walking as if I were silent?”

The monk stopped and asked the young man, “Tell me, if you buy a gift for someone, and that person does not take it, to whom does the gift belong?”

“It would belong to me, because I brought the gift,” the young man said.

The monk smiled. “That is correct. And it is the same with your anger. If you become angry with me and I do not get insulted, then the anger falls back on you. You are then the only one who becomes unhappy, not me. All you have done is hurt yourself.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “For every minute you remain angry, you give up 60 seconds of peace of mind.”

We all feel angry at times. It’s a normal emotion when we feel frustrated, attacked or unfairly treated. Feeling anger can help people identify problems and motivate people to create change, achieve goals and just stay safe.

The problem with anger comes from how people deal with it. Anger in business situations is especially tricky. Family and friends tend to be more forgiving. In business dealings, it often spells the end of the relationship.

The natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively and defend yourself when attacked, even becoming verbally abusive toward others or physically threatening. Others prefer to sulk and ignore people or refuse to do work or do a poor job. Then there are those who internalize anger, start hating themselves and cut themselves off from the world.

The American Psychological Association (APA) lists three main approaches to dealing with anger: expressing, suppressing and calming. “Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive — not aggressive — manner is the healthiest way to express anger,” the association states. “Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.”

Suppression of anger, its says, means holding it in, not thinking about it or focusing on something positive. The problem with this approach is that anger can turn inward and cause hypertension or depression.

Calming yourself means you control your outward behavior and let your feelings subside.

Try taking deep breaths, going for a walk or getting some other exercise. Distance yourself while you think about how to solve or improve the situation.

Here’s a final story to illustrate my point: A young lion and a cougar, both thirsty, arrived at their usual water hole at the same time. They immediately began to argue about who should satisfy their thirst first. The argument became heated, and each decided he would rather die than give up the privilege of being the first to quench his thirst.

As they stubbornly confronted each other, their emotions turned to rage. Their cruel attacks on each other were suddenly interrupted. They both looked up. Circling overhead was a flock of vultures waiting for the loser to fall. Quietly, the two beasts turned and walked away. The thought of being devoured was all they needed to end their quarrel.

Don’t let your anger devour you. Instead, take the bite out of your anger.

Mackay’s Moral: It is better to choose what you say than say what you choose.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or email

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