The Best Speech You’ll Ever Regret

“Speak when you are angry and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

—Ambrose Bierce, 18th Century American Writer and Civil War Soldier

Image of 2 men screaming at each other

Image from Flickr by Sid

When was the last time you lost your temper and really let someone have it? Perhaps you even rehearsed your speech and shared your seemingly justified attack articulately with equally practiced volume and gestures.

What happened after the initial “feel better” burst of adrenaline and getting things off your chest?

If you are like many, you may have experienced considerable fallout, and repercussions much like the aftershocks of an earthquake.

EXERCISE:

Where would counting to ten or a hundred, or simply holding your tongue more frequently, dramatically reduce the number of regretful interactions you experience?

 

Better to be Occasionally Cheated

“Better to be occasionally cheated than perpetually suspicious.”

—B.C. Forbes, 20th Century Scottish-born American financial journalist

Meme stating "Assume Positive Intentions"

Have you ever been duped, cheated, taken advantage of, or just lied to about an important matter?

If you’re like many, it can be the cause of anger, frustration, and sometimes even embarrassment.

What is the cost of being too trusting?

What is the benefit of assuming positive intentions by those around us?

Unfortunately, many people become increasingly suspicious and take a “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” perspective, building an “I’m No Fool” wall around themselves.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom would an Assume Positive Intention (API) perspective make the biggest difference in your personal or professional world?

“When furious, get curious.”

“When furious, get curious.”

– Unknown

480Image from Flickr by isforinsects.

It seems like there is a lot of anger in the world these days. Consider what you observe each day in such areas as our roadways, parking lots, social media, television – especially news programming – politics, the workplace, and even in our own homes.

How often are you the direct recipient of this anger? How often might you be a contributor to it?

Anger can be seen as the outcome of some triggered portion of our comfort zones, based on past experiences or events. The quote above is suggesting that instead of allowing the trigger to automatically generate an anger response, we enter a state of inquiring and curiosity to see what is behind this response – thus resulting in a more workable and peaceful solution.

Exercise:

Pay particular attention today when you observe yourself (and others) getting angry. Ask yourself one or more of the following questions to engage your inquiring mind and observe what happens:

  • What emotions and feelings am I experiencing right now?
  • What is occurring that is triggering these emotions?
  • When else has that occurred in the past, and what was the end result of my response?
  • What alternative responses are possible that will result in a more satisfactory outcome?

Consider picking up a copy of Susan Scott’s book Fierce Conversations to explore additional techniques that can assist you in similar situations.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the only one who gets burned.”

– Buddhaghosa, 5th century commentator on Buddha’s work

No-one in their right mind would ever pick up a hot coal to throw it at someone. In an instant, they would be raced off to the emergency room for treatment, and a very protracted recovery period. Most likely they would also bear considerable scars that would remain for years or perhaps for life.

Exercise:

Take note of the times when you observe the destructive force of anger today.

How can you minimize it, release it, or better yet, replace it with understanding, tolerance and forgiveness, to make for a more peaceful, accepting and loving world?