The kicking the cat story is about a person having a bad day and passing those negative feeling to others. It goes like this: Jim is mad because the morning traffic has caused him to be very late to work. Shortly after getting to work he starts yelling at his assistant about a report he needs. Alice, the assistant, calls the manager who has not turned the report in on time. In a very forceful manner, Alice tells the manager to get the report over to her immediately. Jack, the manager, is very upset but complies. Jack is still mad when he walks into his house after work. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting cat walks by the front door just as Jack walks in. Kick! * The cat did not do anything wrong, but he took the brunt of the bad day that was passed on from Jim to Alice to Jack and, finally, to the cat. Why?
What would have happened if they had compartmentalized their negative feelings and not passed their anger to others during the day? Often when someone is having a bad day they look to share the burden. 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, to bring drama into the room or to show they have some perceived power. Recognize the negative feelings for what they are. If they are legitimate, act accordingly, but do not pass the negative thoughts to others. If they are simply attempts to kick the cat, then you should be the person who stops the negativity.
Ideas for Implementation
- Watch when people become upset and see how they deal with those feelings.
- The next time you get upset over something, examine your reactions.
- Think about a recent event that upset you. Was your response appropriate for the event or did you overreact?
- Why did you react that way?
- What will you do differently the next time?
Good luck! You are a WINNER! * I paraphrased this story from Zig Ziglar, one of the leading motivational speakers in the world. He weaves homespun humor and inspirational stories to give you valuable life lessons. I would encourage you to get his CDs. Please visit
Don’t Kick the Cat – Teaching Moment