No One Can Make You Angry

John Chambers is the Executive Chairman of Cisco Systems. Recently I saw an interview he did in which he laid out one of his maxims for living: “Don’t raise your voice.” In my experience, this is easier said than done

Here’s a personal example. A while back I had an argument with my dad. I let myself get angry over a trivial matter and I raised my voice. After I calmed down, I called my dad to apologize. I did this because one of my personal values is to treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve as fellow human beings, and because I agree with John Chambers – there is never a need to raise your voice.

By raising my voice and arguing with my dad, I was not conducting myself in accordance with one of my personal values – so I had to do something (apologize) to rectify the situation. This value of treating people with respect and dignity is so ingrained in me that I had a feeling of unease for the two days it took me to apologize for losing my temper.

That’s the way values work. They become so much a part of you that when you act in a manner inconsistent with them, you feel a little off and uncomfortable. This discomfort led me to do what I needed to do to fix the problem I had created by raising my voice.

Here’s an electronic communication version of what I’m talking about here. This happened a couple of years ago. I was launching a new product and sent an email to a group of people who are in one of my LinkedIn groups asking if they would like to join me as a joint venture partner. Several said “yes,” which was great.

I also received a response from one person with a subject line that said REMOVE. There was no body in the text. I sent this person a very nice email in which I apologized for bothering her, assured her that I would not contact her again and attached one of my eBooks as a sign of good will. I received a rather condescending response to the second email – offering me coaching on email etiquette.

I was surprised when I read her second email, but I figured out that this person had a strong need to have the last word in this correspondence. I didn’t respond to her second email — letting her have the last word. By doing so, I was following the career advice in Tweet 136 in my book Success Tweets. “Choose to act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.”

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but when I do, I believe that I was the aggrieved party in this situation. But in the long run it doesn’t matter. I took responsibility for not extending a conflict situation that was of little or no importance to me by letting the other person have the last word – something that seemed important to her. And, I also used upper and lower case letters in my correspondence. I didn’t YELL by using all caps.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people take responsibility for themselves. They deal with conflict in a constructive manner. They don’t raise their voice. They know what anger is a choice. They choose to act in a civil, constructive manner in tense situations.

Try doing this the next time you find yourself in a tense situation. It may be difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll feel better about yourself – and you’ll become better at building the relationships you need to create the life and career success you deserve.

Your career mentor,


PS: I write this blog to help people create the life and career success they want and deserve. Now I’m going one step further. I’ve created a membership site in which I’ve pulled together my best thoughts on success. And, as a reader of this blog, you can become a member for free. Just go to to claim your free membership. You’ll be joining a vibrant and growing community of success minded professionals. I hope to see you there.


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