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When you’re upset or mad, it’s human nature to want to unload those feelings onto the person who caused them, whether it’s an unruly member who has a thousand complaints, or the front desk employee who keeps showing up late for work.
But is unloading onto that person the best way to handle the situation? Although it may feel good, author Dale Carnegie says that’s not the best solution. In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” he says a friendly manner and approach should be taken in all situations, no matter how frustrating or important the outcome.
To illustrate, he shares the story of when John D. Rockefeller was “the most fiercely despised man in Colorado.” The state was home to one of the bloodiest strikes in U.S. history — the result of miners demanding higher wages from the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, which Rockefeller controlled.
Strife had been felt on both sides. According to Carnegie, “Property had been destroyed, troops had been called out. Blood had been shed. Strikers had been shot, their bodies riddled with bullets.”
In an attempt to end the strike, Rockefeller planned to address the striking miners. Did he get up there and tell them how much money they were losing the company? How much property had been destroyed? How distressed he was as owner of the company?
No. Instead, two weeks leading up to the address, he spent time with the miners, got to know them and their frustrations with his company. As a result, he started off the address in an extremely friendly manner, detailing how honored he was to be in the strikers’ presence in the “spirit of mutual friendship.”
Carnegie explained: “This speech, in its entirety, is a masterpiece. It produced astonishing results. It calmed the tempestuous waves of hate that threatened to engulf Rockefeller. It won him a host of admirers. It presented facts in such a friendly manner that the strikers went back to work without saying another word about the increase in wages for which they had fought so violently.”
If Rockefeller can approach a situation such as a violent strike in a friendly manner, then there’s no excuse for the rest of us. The next time you feel the urge to lash out, think of Rockefeller’s situation, and approach your circumstances with the same grace and humility as he did.