Just-say-no by Daniel Goleman

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Six friends, all in college, were drinking and playing cards late into the night when an argument broke out. Mack and Ted’s disagreement got louder and angrier until Mack flew into a rage, yelling and screaming-at which point Ted became noticeably cool and reserved. But Mack’s temper was now out of control, he stood up and challenged Ted to a fight. Ted responded to Mack’s goading very calmly, saying he would consider fighting Mack, but only if they finished playing the card game.

Mack, though boiling with rage, agreed. During the several minutes it took to play out the game, everyone else took Ted’s lead and finished the game as though nothing had happened. This gave Mack time to settle down and collect his thoughts. At the end of the hand Ted calmly told Mack- Now if you would like to discuss this further, I will step outside.  But Mack, who by now had had time to quiet down and think things over, apologised for his temper, and there was no fight.

They met again 20 years later, at their school reunion. Ted had a successful career in commercial real estate, while Mack was out of work and struggling with drugs and alcohol.

The contrast between Mack and Ted is telling testimony of the benefits of being able to say no to impulse.

From- Working with EI

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