Anger Is Fast, Compassion Is Slow

The next time you want to send a scathing email to customer support, try this: Before you start typing, take a second and say to yourself, “Okay, I will take as long as I need to write this email.” Make a mental note to allow yourself time. To think through each sentence.

When you start writing without the burning desire of hitting send as quickly as possible, a funny thing happens: Your yelling turns into talking. Accusations turn into suggestions, and statements turn into questions. Anger sat down at the keyboard, but compassion is what comes out.

That’s because anger is always fast. It can’t sustain itself once you get time to think. Anger doesn’t want you to think. It wants to throw the first stone it can find.

Compassion just wants to imagine what it’s like to be on the other side, and that image takes a moment to form. Not long, but long enough that anger sometimes gets the better of us.

The lesson here is that you don’t need to let go of your anger. You just have to slow down, and the anger will make way, at least enough for you to keep the peace. There’ll still be feelings to process, resentment to dissect, and difficult conversations to have, but at least you won’t have set the building on fire prematurely.

It’s easy to imagine an angry runner, huffing and puffing as their muscles strain in agony. A slow runner, however? What would that even look like? Are they walking? How will they win any race?

Most of the time, life is about people, not trophies. When the only true prize is what company we get to keep, we might want to walk slowly enough that we have time to slip into another pair of shoes along the way.