“Miss,” says the little fellow running after his class teacher, “He called me a bad word!”

The wise teacher looks at her young student, “And what did you do to provoke him to say that?”

No, I’m not defending the boy or girl who said an ugly word, but very often we forget the provocation as we punish an offender who reacted. But the situation doesn’t rest there. In quarrels between a husband and wife, the husband or wife next day remembers the words thrown at him or her, but forget what got the other to say them.

It’s time we started putting angry words back in context.

Many, many years ago, I remember a casual worker in my business, who was trying to form a union in my company by sending me a lawyer's notice. I took it to my lawyer, and pointing the harsh sentences out to him said, “Look what he’s calling me!”

The lawyer nodded, and said, “You want to hit him back?”

“Yes,” I said, “The audacity of that man, he’s just a labourer in my company and he needs to be taught a lesson!”

“And that’s exactly what he wants you to do,” said my lawyer, “He has no facts to attack you with, so with these name calling words he expects you to get so riled up, that you will respond violently, and with your response, he will build his case.”

“So, what do I do?” I asked.

“Don’t respond to them,” said the lawyer with a chuckle, “Just react to the facts!”

Needless to say, we won the case, and I’ve always remembered my lawyer’s advice.

When people throw words at us in anger, it’s not our job to catch those words and hurl them back with more vigour, but here’s some advice, go deep into what caused them to say what they said, and proceed with your response accordingly.

A loving father took a doll away from his toddler daughter. The little one threw a tantrum and then in a fit of rage slapped her father. The father, reacting to the sudden pain and without thinking slapped her back, stunning the little one. It took many days for his daughter to come back to him, without being afraid.

That’s what we do, when we hold onto angry words and react to them. Our spontaneous and unthinking reaction to them causes unnecessary and sometimes irreversible damage.

Instead, understand the context, look deep into the provocation, then wisely decide how you will handle not the words, but the situation. If the words were said out of despair, handle the feeling, if frustration, look into what the cause and reason is, and suddenly life will become all the easier in the living, and many a relationship, saved...! 

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