Feel like blasting someone in a fit of anger?

DO YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT? asked the nasty vet receptionist.

I stammered Ummm…no. Isn’t this a 24 hr ER? Do I need one? I’m driving to your clinic right now. My dog has a nose full of porcupine quills. This is an emergency.

YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT. ONE MOMENT. This women didn’t care one bit about my emergency.

This was becoming a recipe for disaster:

  • I was upset.
  • Cookie was whimpering in the back seat.
  • I was driving to a vet ER an hour away, out in the middle of nowhere. (I get lost going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. This was stressful.)
  • And now I was getting really mad at this receptionist.


I didn’t have that kind of cash on me. I went from mad to furious at her.

Don’t you hate when suddenly you are thrown into an emergency situation and all kinds of emotions are flying around in your head?  You feel out of control, want to blast someone, and can’t pull yourself together?

I could barely breathe I was so mad at her. I was also mad at Cookie, and mad at the price. But I knew (because I have practiced controling my emotions a million times in the past) that I had to get control of myself right now or else I would say something I’d regret or crash into an oncoming truck.

Here’s a mental toughness strategy for when you feel out of control:

First: Pull over. Go to the ladies’ room. Take a walk. Just get away from the situation and take some deep breaths to regroup.

Second: Ask yourself this powerful question, (it works for me every time): Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? I wanted to call out this receptionist on her nasty behavior, but I was too angry in the moment to do it. (And, I am not the type to go ballistic on people. It’s just plain wrong.) I knew that if I confronted her it could cost me. She might go passive aggressive and delay Cookie’s appointment and we’d be there for hours. She might overcharge me, etc.

I chose to be happy. I chose not to confront her behavior and  “be right”. (Ahhhh those Navy SEALs would be proud of me right now.)

I chose to keep the conversation all business: Ummmm….could you tell me please how long might it take before the vet can see Cookie?


When we arrived, it took me an hour to calm down while Cookie was being treated. The vet and her technician were lovely and competent. We were there for only 2 hours. It cost $300. (Phew!)

I never saw Nurse Rachet.

I’m gonna call her out on her behavior when this is all over, I said to Cookie on our drive home. Yep. I’m not going to let this one go. That receptionist should not be in a Customer Service position. This revenge will feel so sweet.

STOP! STOP! STOP! Sometimes we have to ask ourselves that “Right or Happy” question multiple times: Would I rather be right, or would I rather be happy, Laura? How long do I want to drag this vet visit out in my head?

Here’s another question to ask yourself when angry at someone: What is my motive for calling out that person on their behavior (no matter how justified)? Where will it get me? Where will it get her/him? Why should I go to all the trouble?

This is mental toughness thinking in the highest form. This is you being confident, staying in control, taking the high road. This is you using your emotional intelligence wisely. This is you “acting, not reacting”, which will always provide a better outcome.

This strategy works but ya gotta practice it a few times in your mind before you find yourself in emergency situations. Then when crazy, stressful situations happen you will be ready to act, not react and will be in control.

Here’s how I put closure on my Cookie drama: The next day, I decided to call the vet and share my experience with her. I got clear on my motive: I appreciated her help and wanted to tell her. I wanted her business to succeed. So I praised the vet over the phone and then let her know that the receptionist’s unskilled behavior was hurting her business. I was kind and to the point. I hoped that my feedback would be helpful.

Afterwards I felt great about mastering my emotions in this hard situation. I felt proud, confident and just plain … happy.

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