How to Make Tolerance Work for You—Between Colleagues

By Jing Yuan and Jade Pearce | Epoch Times Staff

When taking one step back leads to huge strides forward

Most of us are taught as kids that we should never let others take advantage of us. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, so be prepared to fight for what should be yours.” So we cultivate habits like always having the last word, always getting our way, road rage, and other aggressive behaviours.

But few of us are taught the very opposite – to give way and be tolerant. After all, it seems foolish to blindly let others take advantage of you.

However, tolerance is a higher level of wisdom – it requires the ability to forgive, care, and be responsible for others. It necessitates compassion and a broad-minded attitude.

Moreover, some battles are simply not worth our time, energy, or ego to fight. Of course, certain things like child labour and genocide should never be tolerated. But practiced in the right context, tolerance is a powerful tool as – by taking a step back – we may gain much more in return.

These ancient stories about tolerance may be a source of inspiration for our lives and relationships today, where we give in to receive more.

Between Colleagues: Lin Xiangru and Lian Po

The office can be a tricky maze of politics, where we get disliked for things that may be completely groundless. In these situations, it is sometimes more effective to let things cool down for a bit, instead of immediately getting upset and confrontational.

A good example is the Chinese general Lin Xiangru, who served the State of Zhao during the Warring States Period. At the time, Lin had gained a reputation for embarrassing the ruler of the rival State of Qin, and had rapidly risen to the position of Chief Minister.

This evoked the jealousy of some, including the old general Lian Po, who swore enmity between the two. He declared that he would publicly humiliate Lin if he saw him.

Instead of confronting Lian, however, Lin chose to avoid Lian Po as much as possible. One day, Lin’s carriage was going down a street when Lian’s carriage came from the other end. Although Lin had the right of passage, Lin decided to deal with the situation in a harmonious and non-confrontational way. He turned and backed out of the street to let Lian pass.

Many people, including Lian, saw Lin’s subservient behavior as a sign of weakness; Lian himself reckoned that Lin was too scared to fight a warrior like him.

But when confronted by his chief courtier, Lin replied, “The feud between Lian Po and I is a personal one. But I am responsible for the nation’s government and stability. What would happen if our rival countries received wind about infighting between the Chief Minister and top general? They would be on us in a second. I cannot let my personal issues ruin the kingdom!”

When he heard of this, Lian’s hatred melted into shame. He strapped thorny brambles to his back and walked to Lin’s house, begging for forgiveness. From then on, the tension between the two dissolved, and they became close friends.

Lin’s simple act of tolerance dissolved the tension between the two, and they became close friends. (

Lin’s tolerance stood in stark contrast to Lian Po’s narrow-minded attitude, and allowed Lian Po to see how shallow and narrow-minded his thoughts had been.

Lin’s simple act of tolerance dissolved what could have been a cataclysmic relationship.

Lesson to Learn: When embroiled in a conflict, sometimes the best thing to do is to duck and cover. Don’t let others’ attitudes affect the way you should conduct yourself—continue being kind and treating others well. Wait for the winds to blow over and for your adversary’s attitude to change, before broaching on communicating and resolving your differences.


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