Coping Skill - #3B - Others Don't Make You Angry

Robin Cunningham Health Guide
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    What follows is an example from my own experience that illustrates the type of outcomes one can expect using Coping Skills #3A - Others Don't Make You Angry.


    At one point in my business career, the chairman of the board of a large holding corporation asked me to take the position of vice president of finance of a subsidiary company involved in the international shipping business. Although he never said so, I believe that he thought the chairman of the subsidiary shipping company was not telling him the truth, or at least not the whole truth, about what was happening in their shipping business. He asked me to take the position because he was confident that I would tell him the truth.

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    It took me some time to figure out what was going on and that the chairman of the holding corporation was, in fact, correct. Eventually, I discovered some questionable accounting practices that were being used by the shipping subsidiary to inflate the company's profits. The chairman of the shipping company and the controller were both involved and the inflated profit figures had resulted in higher bonuses for them. They concealed their handiwork quite well, which meant that it would take me some time and effort to gather the information needed to show what they were doing.


    From my first day on the job, the chairman and controller of the shipping company conspired to discredit me. The controller fed me bogus accounting information in an attempt to make me look foolish. The chairman assigned me a series of analytical projects each of which required about a week's work to complete, but he demanded the results of three or four such projects every week.


    When this sort of thing (deliberate attempts to discredit others) happens in business, and it's more common than you might imagine, the normal and expected, response from me would be to become irate and level accusations of my own, i.e. that I would fight back, responding in kind by trying to discredit them. But I knew from experience that this response would result in a tremendous uproar that would consume a lot of my precious time and energy. Because I was monitoring my own mental, emotional, and physical condition [Coping Skill #1B], when the urge to become angry welled up in me, I was able to intervene on my own behalf and NOT respond as expected. In other words, I chose not to get angry.  I decided the two conspirators were not worth the time and effort that this would entail, that my time would better be spent doing my job, [Coping Skill #3A]


    To take a little pressure off myself, I went into the office over Labor Day weekend and wrote a computer program that reduced the time it took me to turn around the chairman's unreasonable demands for analyses from one week each to about 10 minutes. I wish I'd had a camera. His reaction was priceless.


    As far as the bogus accounting data were concerned, I said nothing. Because I didn't respond as expected, the conspirators assumed that I was stupid and had not figured out what they were doing. So they continued as before, becoming even more aggressive, which provided me with the information I needed. They didn't realize that I was giving them just enough rope to hang themselves. They even developed a special name for me. They called me "Hughy Bear." [My middle name is Hugh.]

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    When I had finally gathered the information I needed to demonstrate conclusively what they were doing, I asked my secretary to call the controller and tell him that "Hughy Bear" wanted to see him in my office when it was convenient. He appeared almost immediately. He had put two and two together and got four, as any good accountant should be able to do. He was rapidly becoming unraveled. The chairman of the shipping company was right behind him.


    None of this would have occurred if I'd decided to fight back in kind at the beginning. Instead of getting stressed out by the whole affair, I found the conspirators' machinations entertaining.


    To make a long story shorter, both the chairman and the controller of the shipping company were summarily fired. I moved on to take a better position with a sister subsidiary of the holding company.

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    Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.


Published On: March 16, 2008