As you have heard or seen the other day, a congressman responding to a reporter’s question, that the congressman thought was inappropriate, said, “ I’m gonna throw you off the balcony,” or words to that effect.

The first thing that popped into my mind was not any kind of political diatribe about congress or its inhabitants, but a book by Rudolf Dreikurs in the 1960’s about discipline and logical consequences. Carol and I were so taken with the book, and one by Haim Ginott, that we actually incorporated the philosophy when we began to have children.

It’s all in what you say and how you react to children (and adults). Don’t ever say things that you don’t mean or threaten things that you can’t fulfill. Does this mean that the congressman should have said, “I am going to punch you in the mouth if you don’t stop asking me irrelevant questions?” That might have had a totally different outcome. It may not have been a better outcome, but it would have stood the test of did he really intend to do it.

We knew for sure that he was not going to throw the reporter off the balcony. However, we might have stopped for a moment to think of whether he was going to punch the reporter in the mouth. I have a personal knowledge of bad temper. I had a bad temper all through my youth and into my adulthood. There were a few times that It might have gotten me into very serious trouble (and I mean police trouble).

Fortunately, I am married to someone who is at the other end of the spectrum. There is very little that visibly affects Carol. She certainly cares deeply about our children, grandchildren, members of our family and friends. However, she is never, and I mean never, seen to explode as I used to. Her modeling of that behavior has taught me some valuable lessons in both my professional and private life.

There are those who will still say I am a hothead. They are now incorrect. I may be an annoyance, but not a hothead. I have drunk at the fountain of logical consequences and the trough of “In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a person (my word) humanized or dehumanized (Hiam Ginott).

I would suggest to that congressman, who is now more newsworthy than the abominable weather, that he should read Dreikurs and Ginott and feel much better about himself.


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