“Then Judah approached him and said: ‘Please, my master, let me speak a word to my master. Do not be angry with your servant, for you are equal to Pharaoh himself’ (Genesis 44:18).” Anger inevitably leads to mistakes and will cause you to not understand my statements even though clear and direct; Judah was saying to the Viceroy, “Don’t get angry because it will prevent you from thinking reasonably. If you argue that even when someone errs in anger, someone of higher authority can repair the mistake, and there is always someone of higher authority; it is not true for you because ‘you are equal to Pharaoh,’ and you, in this case, are the highest authority. There will be no one to fix a mistake you will make in anger.” (Kli Yakar)
I recently attempted the Kli Yakar approach: I observed someone about to become angry in a situation that could lead to disaster. He believed that he could always repair the situation after an angry explosion by eventually apologizing, and, I was convinced, that he was wrong in this case. The damage would be irreparable. I pulled him to the side and said, “Would you allow yourself to become this angry if you were certain that you won’t be able to fix this relationship with an apology?” He looked at me, and answered, “No!” He then returned to the room, and said, “I feel that I’m about to lose my temper and don’t want to say something I won’t be able to take back.” The other party apologized and they were able to talk things out.
The strategy would not have worked if he was already angry. It can only be used before the person is angry.
“Would you allow yourself to become this angry if you were certain that you won’t be able to fix this relationship with an apology?”