Cause and Effect


Your reaction to the events around you determines how you feel and how you affect those you come into contact with. Consider the following example:

Jane, a bank executive, got caught in traffic on her way to an important presentation at a board of directors meeting. As a result, she was forty-five minutes late for her presentation. After the meeting Jane was in a really bad mood. Upon returning to her office she discovered that several expected reports were not there.

Jane called Kevin, her administrative assistant, into her office and reprimanded him for not ensuring the reports had arrived on time. Another department was preparing the reports. Kevin had no control over when they would be delivered. Jane was in a foul mood and she didn’t want to hear any excuses.

Upset and stressed, Kevin called Donna, the secretary for the department preparing the reports. He started yelling at her that the reports that he had requested had not arrived. Although this was the first Donna had heard of the reports, Kevin didn’t care. He was upset and took his anger out on Donna.

By the time she got off the phone with Kevin, Donna was seething. Who did Kevin think he was speaking to her like that? Just then, Ed from the mailroom called Donna to ask how she wanted a package shipped. Donna accused Ed of being an idiot for not knowing the package should be sent overnight because it was so important.

Ed tried to explain there was no way he could have known what she wanted. Donna just slammed the phone down in a huff. Ed was livid. Did Donna think he was a mind reader? Ed was still agitated as he went to the diner for lunch.

The diner was extremely busy. His waitress, Stacey, took longer than usual to take his order. Ed was annoyed with the slow service. He was rude to Stacey and left her a small tip. Stacy was running herself ragged and was offended by Ed’s attitude and tip.

The rest of Stacey’s shift seemed to drag. When she finally got off work, she was in no mood for any more hassles from anyone. As Stacey walked into her apartment, her five-year-old son, Jimmy, ran excitedly to greet her.

Stacey immediately noticed that Jimmy’s pants were filthy. “I just washed those,” she yelled. “Can’t you keep anything clean?” Jimmy ran up to his room crying. His cat came over to him purring. Jimmy was so upset he kicked the cat.

Wouldn’t it have saved a lot of people a lot of grief if Jane had gone directly to Stacey’s house and kicked Jimmy’s cat?

When you take out your frustrations on others you may be starting a cascading chain reaction. If someone takes out their frustrations on you, break the chain by not taking it out on someone else. When you react negatively to another’s behavior you allow yourself to be drawn into their problems. You control your thoughts. If you feel annoyed, wait and think before speaking or acting.

Keep things in perspective. Let stress roll off you without grabbing hold of and internalizing it. Don’t kick the cat.

© 2004 Bryan Golden