Savage counsel: holding a grudge

Chris SavageHi Chris,

I am seething and need your help. A business associate really let me down last week. They broke a promise and by their actions, caused me professional damage. I am really angry and struggling to deal with this person now. But I have to as they are important to my role and business. How can I manage my anger and resentment? And how do I go about getting revenge?

Take a deep breath. Breathe in… Count to four… Breathe out… Relax a moment while I tell you a story. David Gonski is a fixture in the top 10 most influential people in Australia annual rankings. He’s on multiple boards, is much sought after as an advisor and is generally considered a very wise man. So when he laughed out loud at something I said before giving me a sobering piece of advice, I listened. It’s a gem and it is vital in business.

A corporate shareholder in my business had purchased a competitor of ours the year prior and I was still upset about it, believing this broke an agreement I had with the then CEO not to invest in competitors to my business. I told Gonski who I met via a client. He laughed, and then gave me the piece of advice that still stings today. He said: “Staying pissed off is a luxury in business.”

I listened. I had to. It was David Gonski saying it for heaven’s sake. Most of all, I reflected upon it. And over the years, the wisdom in it resounds.

Of course things will happen that upset us in business. People quit for a competitor, they steal a client or a person or two. Someone breaks their word, lets you down, or lets themselves down. You feel hard done by, betrayed, disrespected or damaged in some way. Egos get hurt, business can suffer for a while. The trick is not to brood on it. Do not keep that angst and resentment with you. Of course, sometimes someone does something so outrageous that you simply cannot forget or forgive. There are those exceptions. But Gonski’s words are wise. Staying pissed off is a luxury in business. We all operate in small ‘communities’ and the people we know will come around again, either as a client or as a colleague or in some other shape or form. Angst is simply lost energy and it depletes us.

I make it a priority – with the passage of time – to reconnect with those who have damaged me, or I have damaged. To reconnect, and rebuild. It is not easy. Sometimes it does not work out. But usually it does. And good things come from it.
Encore issue 20This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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