If you are in business then you have been frustrated, even all-out angry! Things happen so often in business that can cause frustration. Whatever the cause of the issue, we have all felt our blood boil and we start looking for a way to take action. We have to do something or we will explode! Today, I am going to give you a list of things you should NOT do when you are angry!
Lincoln’s Letter to Meade
Consider Abraham Lincoln’s response to a similar situation shortly after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. General Meade of the Union Army had General Lee and his Confederate Army trapped against the river at flood stage. It was a significant opportunity to attack Lee’s army and likely put a quick end to the war. Instead, Meade delayed. Lee took advantage of the hesitation and escaped, prolonging the war almost two more years.
Upon hearing of this missed opportunity, Lincoln fired off a letter to Gen. Meade that clearly explained his anger and frustration. This letter accused Meade of being unaware of the “magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape.” Lincoln said that Lee was within Meade’s “easy grasp,” but that Meade “stood and let the flood run down, bridges be built, and the enemy move away at his leisure….”
How do we know so much about this letter? It was found years later…in Lincoln’s personal files. You see, he never mailed the letter. He cooled off and realized nothing good could come from chastising Meade. He decided he may have made the same decision shortly after losing more than 23,000 men in the recent fight in Gettysburg. Other similar letters were found among Lincoln’s possessions.
Wisdom When Angry
The learning here is that it is simply not wise to react and take action when angry. There are too many things that could go wrong. Our information could later prove to be incomplete or even completely incorrect. Because we are not thinking as clearly when we are angry, it is likely we will do or say something we will later regret. Consider this verse from Proverbs:
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man holds it in check. – Proverbs 29:11
Get Angry, Don’t Sin
This is not to say that you are wrong to get angry. Paul told the Ephesians to be angry, but not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Getting angry is not a sin. It is our actions during our anger that constitute sin. As Christian business leaders, we are going to get angry. There are too many opportunities for this in business for us to avoid it completely.
Since that is the case, we simply need to lay out some simple guidelines for ourselves as to what we will and won’t do when we are angry. I have put together this list of things we should commit NOT to do when we are angry. Take a look and see if these make sense to you. Feel free to question any of them (or to add to them) in the comment section below.
7 Actions To Avoid When Angry
1. Make a decision to fire someone.
- While there is a chance it is the right decision, you need to make sure you feel the same when you have cooled down. Wait a day. If you still feel the same, move forward.
2. Discipline an employee.
- Though you may think this is an acceptable compromise from the decision above, it is still a bad idea to do it when you are angry. Write down your intentions and then review them when your mind is again clear.
3. Call a meeting to discuss a problem.
- The situation that sparked your anger may warrant a meeting for team discussion or even discipline. Unfortunately you will most likely say something you will later regret or rush into a decision you would otherwise take slowly.
4. Send an email to someone who made a mistake. Call it after you are calm.
- Take a lesson from Lincoln and hold your thoughts until you can rethink them. It is likely you will change what you say after some time passes.
5. Go home from work to your family.
- This may seem like a good way to avoid saying something you should not say at the office, but if you end up taking your anger out on your unsuspecting family, what have you really gained? Drive around a while if you must.
6. Show your emotions.
- A seemingly innocent walk through the office where everyone is at work may not seem dangerous. The problem is that your emotions are written all over your face and everyone notices. Even if they are not involved, their imaginations will run wild.
7. Go looking for more mistakes.
- This is probably one of the worst things you can do. There is little doubt you would find something and the offender would bear the brunt of his mistake as well as the one that originally made you angry.
If this list makes you feel like your only option is to crawl under your desk and hide, then I apologize. That is not the case! At the same time, the wisest action you can take is to pray through it. Take a walk outside and pray as you go. Get away from your team until your emotions are under control. You will be much more effective then!
Have you taken any of these actions while angry? How did it turn out?
What actions would you add to this list?
What do you do to cool down?