Today's fortune: An angry man opens his mouth and shuts up his eyes.
I can't count how many times this has happened: I'm angry about something, so angry I could spit bullets, and I sit down to write a letter to the offending party or send a strongly-worded e-mail (I know, I'm a real badass).
I always write the letter... but I never send it. I sleep on it for a night.
And in almost every situation, when morning comes I don't want to send the letter anymore, or I send a heavily edited version.
My guess is most folks can relate to this. That's because this fortune is true: When we're mad, we open our mouths - or, in the above example, click away angrily at the keyboard. But we shut our eyes against what the effect of the e-mail (or phone call, conversation, etc.) could be.
"Sleeping on it" is one way to shut our mouths and open our eyes while the anger passes.
I tried to put this into practice today. And what a day it was. I was busy as hell today, and part of the reason I was so busy was I had to deal with a goodly handful of angry customers. When that happened, though, I attempted to cool my own temper, which oftentimes serves to douse the customer's anger as well.
One instance at the end of the day was particularly telling. Let's just say I was working on a widget that I really didn't have to be working on, which made the customer's anger at me all the more infuriating. I allowed the guy to rant and rave for fifteen minutes or so, and I withheld my anger. Instead, I listened to what he was saying. That's when something unusual happened. I looked in the notes on the file, and based on what he said I realized there was a quite obvious solution. I presented the solution, and he paused for long enough that I thought he had hung up. But eventually he said, "You know, I hadn't thought about that. I think that would work."
He accepted the solution, and by the end of the call this angry customer was thanking me and singing my praises.