When you lose your temper, you lose credibility

Lately it seems like every night when I watch ESPN to get the day's baseball scores and highlights, I see another pitcher throwing a temper tantrum in the dugout after a poor performance.

San Francisco Giants star relief pitcher, Brian Wilson, had one of the more visible meltdowns when he was pulled from a game in the ninth inning. He proceeded to storm into the dugout, where he picked up the water cooler and heaved it against the bench. He grabbed a bat and pummeled the water cooler and then punched a cardboard box.

What was more alarming was what Wilson said afterward: "Give yourself 30 seconds to completely lose it, then come back and be part of the team."

Did I hear that correctly?

Does that mean it's OK for your teenager to come home and trash the house after a rough day at school -- just for 30 seconds? Or should the employee who blows up at work be forgiven for knocking over the water cooler? That takes only five seconds. How about people who go crazy verbally and cuss a blue streak? A lot of very nasty and damaging words can be uttered in half a minute!

Is this out-of-control behavior acceptable?

Absolutely, definitely, positively, most certainly NOT! These hotheads don't understand that every time you lose your temper, you advertise yourself -- and you're not selling a positive. Nothing cooks your goose more than a boiling temper.

Keeping your temper in check is not just essential, it's the mark of a professional. Where two or more people work together, disagreements are an ever-present part of the landscape. There are plenty of ways to be unhappy about a situation without being unpleasant. Consider these ideas:

•Figure out what you're really angry about. Are you upset at the current situation, or is your discontent a carryover from previous events?

•Count to 10 -- or 20 or 30, if necessary. Just as you can't unring a bell, taking back angry and hurtful words is next to impossible.

•Excuse yourself for a few minutes if possible. Walking away from a volatile situation gives you a chance to collect yourself and measure your reaction.

•Take care of your health. Studies show that people who eat properly, exercise and sleep enough are better equipped to handle stressful situations.

•Share your concerns calmly. It takes two to tango, but things slow down if one of them does a waltz instead.

•Give the other side a break, even if you think they're wrong. You may discover there are unrelated factors at work that are guiding the discussion. Diffusing the tension can lead to a better resolution.

•Choose your battles according to how important the outcome would be. Never fight a battle just so you can say you won. You won't be perceived as a winner; you'll be labeled a bully.

•Accept that some things are beyond your control. As competitive as I am, I have come to realize that I can't have my way in everything.

An American Indian grandfather was talking to his grandson about how he felt. He said: "I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is vengeful, angry and temperamental. The other wolf is loving and compassionate."

The grandson asked him, "Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?"

The grandfather answered, "The one I feed."

Mackay's Moral: When a person's temper gets the best of him, it brings out the worst in him.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or send e-mail to harvey@mackay.com. His column is distributed by United Feature Syndicate.

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