Unfortunately, people are going to hurt you. Sometimes they will hurt you intentionally and sometimes without intention. Co-workers, supervisors, direct reports, suppliers, even trusted advisers will do or say things that harm or abuse you and make you want to retaliate. But don’t. Taking the high road and just letting it go will be your best course almost every time. I know because I’ve done it both ways.
Just this week, one very important supplier of mine backed out of our contract. And it made me angry. This is going to cause me lots of stress, time, and revenue. Something inside me really wants to get even. It almost seems righteous to retaliate because they caused me loss for their random and selfish reasons. And my revenge wouldn’t be obvious. I would find some way to very cleverly cause them trouble without them even knowing what happened or why. But I would know and get some pleasure from that. Or would I?
Actually several bad things happen every time I have chosen to retaliate.
- I know I have chosen the low road. Retaliation is the action of small, petty, undisciplined people. Strong people don’t need to get even. And I chose to be weak. That really disappoints me and the disappointment makes the revenge sour, not sweet.
- People find out. Sometime in the future, my reputation will be tainted when someone discovers my “bad” behavior. They might agree with my reasons for revenge or they might not know the circumstances but someone usually finds out how I reacted. And they look at me as vulgar, not gentlemanly.
- Bad habits form. Every time I choose the low road on anything, that’s the direction I’m headed. Whether it’s anger, revenge, laziness, negativity, or any other bad action, it could become normal very easily. I could be stuck for years in a bad habit that daily works against my success.
- My role as a leader would suffer. Actually this is just restating the first 3 reasons. People don’t respect or follow someone who gets even. When I ask someone to do something challenging, they’re going to think…”why should I do Bob’s way, he’s no leader” It’s hard enough to be someone worth following without giving people reason to distrust me.
The much better route is forgiveness. Unconditional forgiveness benefits me more than it helps them. This supplier likely won’t even know that I make that choice. But choosing to release them of all responsibility helps me look for bigger opportunities. It opens my mind up to think like powerful people. I start thinking of myself as invincible. If this supplier can’t hurt me, who can? If all my customers reject me I can find more. If I can control my revenge, I can control anything.
If I can forgive any rejections I have peace like a Zen master and power like a Jedi Master. And letting it go takes much less time. I don’t have to plan an elaborate plan to make them hurt which could steal lots of my productive time.
Now here are 2 challenges that may haunt you with this “no retaliation” lifestyle”
- You might go it alone. Being the only Zen Master at your organization is a real possibility. Can you behave well when all others are throwing stones?
- Old habits are hard to break, new ones are hard to make. You might retaliate so quickly now that it’s subconscious. Can you make a decision and stick to it?
Try letting go of retaliating in all your business and personal relationships. Be the strong person instead of weak. And send me an email letting me know how that works for you. Bob R