Don’t Kick the Cat – Teachable Moment

The story of kicking the cat is about a person having a bad day and passing those negative feelings on to others. He says like this: Jim is angry because the morning traffic has made him late for work. Shortly after arriving at work, he starts yelling at his assistant about a report he needs. Alice the assistant calls the manager who didn’t turn in the report on time. In a very forceful manner, Alice tells the manager to give her the report right away. Jack the manager is very upset but complies. Jack is still angry when he walks into his house after work. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting cat walks through the front door just as Jack walks in. Kick! * The cat did nothing wrong, but it took the brunt of the bad day as it passed from Jim to Alice to Jack and finally to the cat. Why?

What if they had compartmentalized their negative feelings and not passed their anger onto others throughout the day? Often when someone is having a bad day, they look to share the load. If there is a legitimate concern, then by all means handle the situation. However, many times these concerns are not legitimate.

They are simply annoying attempts by someone trying to get attention, bring drama to the room, or show that they have some perceived power. Recognize negative feelings for what they are. If they are legitimate, act accordingly, but don’t pass the negative thoughts on to others. If they are simply attempts to kick the cat, then you should be the person to stop the negativity.

Ideas for implementation

  1. Observe when people get angry and see how they handle those feelings.
  2. The next time you get upset about something, examine your reactions.

Discussion Topics:

  1. Think of a recent event that upset you. Was your response appropriate to the event or did you overreact?
  2. Why did you react that way?
  3. What will you do differently next time?

Good luck! You are a winner! *I paraphrased this story from Zig Ziglar, one of the world’s leading motivational speakers. It weaves homespun humor and inspiring stories to provide you with valuable life lessons. I encourage you to get the CD from him. Visit

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