Letter from Azim Premji – Lesson #2

Lesson # 2: Respond, don’t react

Always be aware of your emotions and learn to manage them. There is a huge difference between people who react impulsively and those who can disengage themselves and then respond at will. By choosing to respond differently, we can prevent another person from controlling our behaviour. I remember a small story that illustrates this well. There was once a newspaper vendor who had a rude Customer. Every morning, the Customer would walk by, refuse to return the greeting, grab the paper off the shelf and throw the money at the vendor. The vendor would pick up the money, smile politely and say, “Thank you, Sir.”

One day, the vendor’s assistant asked him, “Why are you always so polite with him when he is so rude to you? Why don’t you throw the newspaper at him when he comes back tomorrow?” The vendor smiled and replied, “He can’t help being rude and I can’t help being polite. Why should I let his rude behaviour dictate mine?

— Azim Premji, Chairman, Wipro

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