Avoiding unnecessary grudges – Activate your full brainpower to cooldown.

The German army won’t let a soldier tile a complaint and, make a criticism immediately after a thing has happened. He has to sleep on his grudge first and cool off. If he files his complaint immediately, he is punished. By the eternals, there ought to be a law like that in civil life too – a law for whining parents and nagging wives and scolding employers and the whole obnoxious parade of fault finders.

written by Dale Carnegie in his book  How to Win Friends and Influence People

Now here is one piece of advice you may have heard before.  In fact, you probably gave the same advice to dozens of friends as well, but still, when a discussion arises you find yourself in the heat of an argument before having had a chance to cool down your thoughts and be reasonable about the situation.  When we disagree with someone else’s opinion, we want our point of view to recognized and often we want everyone to accept that we have the most reasonable point of view.  You defend your argument with passion, and start getting roiled up when you find resistance.  Typically at the end of the discussion one person finally gives up the argument and the other gets the bragging rights of having won the argument.  An hour later everything goes back to normal and all you both got out of the argument was hurt feelings and a not-so-healthy relationship.  Was it worth it?

If you, on the other hand, take the time to cool off after the initial emotional rush you are most like able to share your point of view without the need to deny the other person’s argument.  It is easier in this state to learn from each other, and by this cooperative discussion you can forge new friendships instead of breaking current ones.

This is a difficult lesson to put in practice.  Ideally, we want to be able to not have an emotionally charged take on an issue by the time we discuss it with someone else.  When our emotions are present, the amygdala reacts without really giving you enough time and space to think clearly.

How can we avoid this innate reaction?

  1. Take time to cool off and wait until we have total control over your thoughts.
  2. If you need a quick way to cool off, challenge your brain to solve problems that require you to use your brain! This will force you to activate your entire brain and take power off the amygdala, which is reacting emotionally.  Try it!  Next time you’re focused on an emotional issue, take out that math or chem book and solve a problem, that’s doubly productive!
  3. Take a nap or a full night’s sleep before thinking about the issue again.  Don’t stay up thinking about it.  If you feel you can’t help it, occupy your thoughts by repeating a mantra or a phrase such as “I’m sleepy”.  If you are in bed telling yourself over and over that you are sleepy, chances are you’ll fall asleep.  If you focus on your problems, however, you will probably stay awake for many hours.

Next time you start feeling emotions while discussing a topic ask yourself, is it time to take a break and wait until the emotions dissipate?  It’s an exercise of self-control to actually stop your impulses.

Agree?  Disagree?  Please leave a comment and let everyone know what you think.  If possible, comment about your experiences, it definitely helps to hear from other people.

8 thoughts on “Avoiding unnecessary grudges – Activate your full brainpower to cooldown.

  1. So true! Taking time to cool off is almost always a good idea, both in personal and professional relationships. Whenever I find myself frustrated with a co-worker, I try to wait at least a half hour before confronting them. It often turns out that the whole incident was based on a misunderstanding in the first place. How do you deal with situations in which you can't take time to cool down (or solve a chemistry problem :))?

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  2. Thanks for your input, Jeffrey! Very good question. What I do is to try and keep myself emotionally distant from the problem. Just try to keep in mind that, even if the other person is being very emotional about the subject, the outcome of the conversation is probably of very little importance in the great scheme of things. I once found myself almost arguing with someone else about such a thing as wether two Japanese phrases were equivalent or not, and although I, in my head, was sure I was right, I noticed he was quite stubborn about his point of view and simply said: “You're probably right, never mind” to which he replied with something along the lines of “I'm always right.” I found the incidence all the more amusing because this was a student who was not really doing well in the class, but had I kept arguing with him I would have only wasted my time. It was difficult, I must say, to simply give him the credit, but it was a good exercise of not allowing my 'ego' to interfere with my day. Mm… there is definitely a lot to talk about when it comes down to the 'ego' and your happiness. “A New Earth” devotes a lot of time to the discussion of the ego and how to not let it take over you, definitely a must read!

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  3. Hi Omar, I totally agree with the idea of taking time to cool off. I don't always do it, but I agree with it!Funny what you say about doing a math problem. Google Mail has a feature, where, to prevent you from sending incoherent emails late at night, it makes you do a simple math problem before pressing the SEND button. If you can't solve the problem, it won't send the mail because you're too tired to be working and your email probably doesn't make sense.

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  4. Hello Kaizan! Thanks so much for sharing your opinion. ~ I think the Google Mail feature is quite a nice addition… I have sent a few e-mails myself that I've then read in the morning just to realize they made little sense or had huge number of spelling mistakes!

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  5. Now this is something that I absolutely agree with. Seems you're a student of the great Mr Carnegie. I loved his book so much that I bought it in Spanish too.I think that you're right – institutions should teach this kind of stuff ;)Anyway, I absolutely resonate with this. So many times we do things in the heat of the moment as the ego takes control.I can't count the times I've done something without thinking, only to feel indifference after just an hour or so.Thanks for the great post, I'll be reading more of this blog 🙂

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  6. Now this is something that I absolutely agree with. Seems you're a student of the great Mr Carnegie. I loved his book so much that I bought it in Spanish too.I think that you're right – institutions should teach this kind of stuff ;)Anyway, I absolutely resonate with this. So many times we do things in the heat of the moment as the ego takes control.I can't count the times I've done something without thinking, only to feel indifference after just an hour or so.Thanks for the great post, I'll be reading more of this blog 🙂

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  7. Welcome Clement! I'm glad you have read Dale Carnegie's book, I devoured that book and often go back to read some highlights I made while reading. It's a book I would recommend anyone to read, even though it was first published over 70 years ago the content is just as relevant today!You bought the book in Spanish as well? I know my parents have a copy of the book in Spanish, but I read it in English. I wonder which version is easier to follow, sometimes translations don't carry the voice of the author, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I hope you keep enjoying the content I post in this blog. ~

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  8. […] 5)  Think about the person and personalize the feedback.  The same exact words can have devastating results in one person, but great results when told to another.  Make sure you are delivering your message in the way that will make the best impact in this individual.  Choose the appropriate time and setting, and method, to deliver your feedback.  This is probably the hardest step of all.  No matter what you do, don’t give this feedback when you are in an emotional state, keep your head cool. […]

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