Remember the movie The Mighty Ducks? There is a scene in the movie when the lead character played by Emilio Estevez decided that the only way to win was to have his team fake penalties and injuries. The team battle cry became take the fall, fake the injury, get indignant! This obviously did not go over well. So why do so many of us, including me, sometimes attempt to use the same strategy in life?
Author David DiSalvo recommends in his book “What makes your brain happy and why you should do the opposite,” that we all need to slow down, pause for just a moment, and challenge ourselves about an action that we are about to take that will have horrible consequences. I don’t think there’s a person among us who has not responded angrily to an email or a text, and hit send, without immediately regretting our action.
Perhaps this is our brains desire to want to feel right, known as “certainty bias.” The truth is when we feel right about decisions our brains are happy. Our brains like being happy so therefore we like being right. Often, when we are responding to that email or text that is upset us, we feel very certain and in our “rightness.” And then the reality of our actions sets in.
There is the old adage that we should sleep on it. The most common solution to responding too quickly when you’re upset still works. Go ahead and write that angry response but definitely do not send it. In fact, make sure that you do not put the persons name in the To: field so that you don’t accidentally send it. Then go sleep on it. There are a few things that don’t look better in the morning. Sleep is our brains problem-solving default mode. Not only will you see the problem differently the next day you will have some time to cool down and write (or call) with the better response. Stephen Covey calls this Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood.