Friday, July 23, 2010

Composure - It Pays to Keep Your Cool

It pains me to recall this incident. It happened while I was still in the Army. I was working on a project team when our boss, a colonel, came into the room visibly upset. One of our team members, a young captain, had given higher headquarters some incorrect information. The colonel chewed him out, poking at the captain's chest as he vented his displeasure. As he turned to leave, I heard him mutter under his breath, "Numbnuts."

I could see by the pained expression on the captain's face that he heard it, too. I felt embarrassed for him. At the time, I wished I hadn't witnessed the scene. Now I'm glad I did because I can report it here as an example of what can happen when you lose your composure. I can tell you the colonel did some real damage in that encounter.

One of the realities is that things won‘t always go your way. Bad things will happen. People won‘t always do what you expect them to do. They‘ll let you down, create problems, or even work against you.

These unwanted events will frustrate you. They‘ll make you angry. You might feel shock, anger, or disappointment. It would be easy to give in to these emotions. At such times, it‘s hard to keep your cool. But if you go with your emotions, if you act on them, it will only make things worse.

Lashing out can hurt people. You can do real damage to relationships. If you fail to express your anger in appropriate ways, you‘ll pay a price. Even if the victims of your rage don‘t retaliate in anger, they‘ll resent you. They'll conclude you‘re insensitive and untrustworthy.

It‘s hard to stay calm when you‘re really upset or angry. It‘s OK to have these feelings. Just remember to be strong so you can think clearly and control your emotions. Remind yourself that you wouldn‘t deliberately harm someone, so you don‘t want to do it accidentally by losing your temper. The key is to take a deep breath, calm down, and give the issue some thought. Consider what makes sense – at that moment and for the long-term. Then rationally explain how you feel and why. This will help you correct the situation that caused your frustration in the first place.

A Fortune Cookie for you...

Think before you say, think before you do - and you'll have control over what happens next.

The story behind the Fortune Cookies...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength. (Permission to use photo purchased from


Sarcastic Bastard said...

This is a good reminder. Words can really hurt.



Kent Julian said...

Wise thoughts, Denny! In a world that is constantly changing, composure and focus as a leader are priceless.