Try Lowering the Volume

by | May 28, 2001 | Anger, Words

Gary McIntyre had just started his workday in the Canadian woods last Monday. He heard a noise, turned to look in that direction, and realized he was being charged by an angry bear! Experienced forestry worker that he is, he knew there was no time for a proper introduction. So he scurried up the nearest tree.

The bear didn’t give up. She started climbing the tree behind him! “Her teeth were right under my boots,” said McIntyre in a television interview. He didn’t have the bear repellent he normally carries with him in the forests of New Brunswick. And he wasn’t carrying his two-way radio either. So McIntyre began screaming at the bear in hopes of scaring her away. But she just kept climbing.

The bear got so close, in fact, that the man who has had encounters with bears before had to risk jumping from one tree into another to avoid being mauled by the powerful creature that was closing in on him!

“She tried to grab me for a while and after I stopped screaming, the bear calmed down,” he told the TV camera. “The more I screamed, the madder the bear got.” The reason for the bear’s rage didn’t become apparent until much later, when the trapped man saw her cub crawling down from the top of a 50-foot tree not far from where he had encountered its mother.

The cub swung to the ground, nudged its mother, and the two of them ambled off. McIntyre waited a few minutes, came down from his place of refuge, and looked one last time at the deep gouges the bear had inflicted on the tree she had clawed in frustration. Grateful those marks were not on his body, the forestry worker went home – after a harrowing eight-hour day.

McIntyre’s comment about his screaming only making the bear madder and more determined to get him reminds me of human behavior. Although some people appear to think that loud, blustery threats are the means to power and influence, they more often generate anger and opposition. Whether in the workplace or at home, screeching at someone who has messed up humiliates and makes enemies. And if you happen to be on the receiving end, an in-kind reply seldom serves a good purpose and only escalates the tension and hostility.

“A kind answer soothes angry feelings,” the Bible says, “but harsh words stir them up” (Proverbs 15:1 CEV).

Try to remember that the next time you find yourself out on a limb.

Rubel Shelly FAX of Life [email protected]

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