The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Question (Q): How to deal with a short-tempered person?
Acharya Prashant (AP): Why are you only asking about how to deal with those who are very short-tempered? There are different people in the world, some are short-tempered and some are long-tempered (laughs).
People have different natures. If you’re aware and attentive, your response will always be right. If I’m filled with love then I’ll know how to deal with a lazy man and how to deal with a skillful person. If I’m intelligent, I’ll know how to deal with a person who is laughing and how to deal with a person who is crying. Both are opposites, but my intelligence can give solutions to both, right?
A person may be short-tempered or something else, but the right action can’t be planned beforehand. It can be decided at the very moment by being attentive. But the question is: why has the questioner talked about short-tempered persons? You didn’t ask, ‘Sir if I get to meet an intelligent person or a Buddha, how I should behave?’ You asked if you get to meet a short-tempered person, how should you deal with him. It is because when you meet a short-tempered person, it hurts your ego.
So, essentially, you are asking how to secure, and protect your ego. You have asked me how to deal with short-tempered people because a short-tempered person gives pain. He pierces your ego and hits your ego. Somebody abuses you and you feel your self-esteem is shattered into pieces. Hence, you ask how to deal with these kinds of people.
Listener (L): But he is able to hurt me.
AP: A short-tempered person is able to hurt you because your ego is ready to get hurt; otherwise, what is so special about a short-tempered person? He is burning in anger, let him burn. He is able to taunt you because you have something on which he can put a scratch, and make holes; and that is nothing but your ‘ego’, your ‘self-concept’. You understand yourself as a very respectable person and you meet an angry old man and he says to you, “You are worse than the insects in the gutter.” And hence, your self-concept starts shaking and then you get angry.