The Easy Place

The Quest for Self Awareness One Moment at a Time

That Flare of Temper

I was mad.  I’m a member of an online forum, and last night one of the people I’m connected with sent me a communication that felt sizzlingly nasty.   The nerve of him, throwing quotes from my blog at me, sneering at the fact that I wasn’t who I claimed to be!  And then saying he wasn’t fooled by me, implying that I was some kind of sniveling weakling. 

Itching to respond, I immediately fired back a reply, calling him a bully and severing our connection in the forum.  Then, highly satisfied with myself, I went to bed – no one can browbeat the new and improved Melinda!

This morning I dragged his communication out of my email trash to pull out a couple of quotes for a blog post.  But as I read over what he’d written, looking for those scathing insults that had catapulted me into action last night, I cringed.  Ugh oh.  What had seemed over the top aggressive appeared merely intense this morning, and his “insults” had somehow transformed overnight into observations about what he was seeing from me. 

I’d broken a long standing rule I’d learned in my corporate life: never react emotionally to anything without cooling down first. 

By nature I like to get things done.  I was known in my department as someone who completed tasks quickly, answered emails promptly, and was scrupulous about meeting deadlines.  If this sounds like boasting, it’s not, it’s just that resolving things feels good to me.  However that “get it done” quality can backfire. 

I’d learned, after embarrassing myself on numerous occasions, that reacting too quickly when I was upset usually ended in disaster.  I realized that it’s impossible to be clear-headed when my buttons have been pushed and that my reactions are always off when I’m upset.  By waiting until I cooled down I was able to more clearly assess situations and select the appropriate reaction (which, by the way, was often to do nothing).

So, this morning I sent the guy an apology.  Sure his communication was critical, long winded and pretty aggressive, however it wasn’t anywhere near the tongue-lashing I thought it was.  And while I’m still not crazy about what he said, my apology was heartfelt. 

Because, sadly, in this story I turned out to be the bully.

***

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8 responses to “That Flare of Temper

  1. Beth October 19, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Melinda – You brave woman you! First to be humbled by your own realization and then to declare it publicly! That’s what I call walking your talk. It can be very sobbering indeed when we realize that we have misjudged or acted too quickly. I can so relate to what you have shared. It has happened to me many times and each time I think I have learned my lesson. In my corporate days we called it ready, fire, aim! Nonetheless, I think you show a lot of integrity in writing about this experience and how you are making your way to The Easy Place within it all. What I find in your writing is that there is always a purpose for the stories you share about yourself and a wisdom that comes through that can be applied to life in general. I appreciate this about you and enjoy reading your posts! You give me opportunities to smile and laugh at our humaness and also to rejoice in the wonder of our interconnectedness. Till next time……

    • Melinda October 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm

      Beth – your comments are always so rich, I want to flag readers to be sure to read what you write, too!

      I’ll have to say that one place where I have learned a lot since I started this work is that when I do something dumb like this I really don’t feel much embarassment. I can usually just go “oh well!” And I can’t tell you how nice that would have been to feel that way during my corporate years :)

      Thanks again,

      Melinda

  2. Debbie October 19, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Can’t say it better than Beth did.

  3. Marcia October 21, 2010 at 5:54 am

    Ditto Beth. Thanks for sharing, Melinda.

  4. CP October 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    I loved that post! It brought back so many memories. You are the one who originally taught me the “24 hour” rule when I was just a young corporate pup. One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned…

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