I have two kids. When my oldest boy was a toddler and it came to discipline, he would typically get upset and cry (kids tend to do that) but inevitably emerge a few minutes after “time out," happy and far removed from the punishment levied.
My 3-year-old daughter, on the other hand, is not that kind of person.
The other morning, we were having challenges while getting ready for daycare. I imposed punishment followed by a brief stint in time out, and we were off.
Related: Stop Reacting and Start Responding
Because she is a toddler, I expected her to get over it quickly, but she sulked in the back seat, ignoring attempts at conversation and throwing me vexed looks. When we reached daycare, she begrudgingly walked with me to class, cross-armed and pouty faced.
Later that afternoon, when I returned home, my wife informed me that our daughter had something to tell me. My daughter, almost 4 years old, looked at me and said, with a dead serious and concerned look, "Daddy was mean to me today.”
After pleading my side of the story – and expressing my astonishment that my daughter could hold that grudge all day, much less even remember the situation – my wife described to me something she had learned from her mother as a child.
“There are two different types of people: electric stoves and gas stoves. Gas stoves burn hot immediately, and they cool down equally as fast after the job is done. Electric stoves, on the other hand, take considerably longer to get warm and will stay hot much longer when finally turned off.
"People deal with anger and frustration in these two ways. One type will burn off those issues in hot bursts of energy, but then move on quickly. For others, anger and frustration is internalized and lingers over time, and it creates hurtful feelings and emotions that eat at them for days, weeks and even years.”
Evidently, I have an electric stove for a daughter.
As an entrepreneur, this realization taught me two things. First, understanding that these two different personalities exist makes it easier to manage and nurture business relationships.
For instance, while I may be hot for days about an issue, it is likely that the subject of my angst may have long ago moved on. Conversely, people who never seem to get angry or who seem withdrawn from a situation may be bottling up their frustration and working it out internally, and they need to be given time and space to work out their issues.
Second, as an entrepreneur and business leader, it is far better to be a gas stove than an electric stove. While I always advocate to not burn bridges in business, it is equally important to not hold grudges. Life is short and wonderfully precious, and time is too important and limited to waste by allowing hurt feelings to consume you.
Of course, a subtle combination of gas and electric can work well for entrepreneurs. Allowing yourself to quickly and productively blow off steam is great for moving a business team through an issue or challenge, but allowing yourself to remember and avoid the people and situations that have wronged you is a useful attribute to have.
My daughter did eventually forgive me, though not until after she had negotiated specific terms for future daycare preparation methods and timelines – all of which I begrudgingly agreed to, cross-armed and pouty faced.
Time for me to get a gas-converted kit.