Are We Exploiting Our Weakest Link?
Recently, in a coaching session I was conducting on managing emotions, a senior professional talked about how guilty she feels when she beats her son up.
She said, “Mitu, by the time I reach home, I am very exhausted. That’s when he starts demanding my attention and annoys me so badly that I end up beating him.”
During the course of our interaction, I asked her, “How about your boss? Does he annoy you too, at times?”
“Obviously,” she replied.
“Hmmm… and your husband, parents or in-laws, do they make perfect sense always, or do they annoy you too?" I continued.
“There are instances when I just can’t stand some conversations with them, but I simply ignore them,” she said.
Pat came my next question, “When you can manage your emotions with your boss, husband, parents, in-laws and others, then why not with your son? Is it simply because he is the weakest link in your life and it's easy to vent out your frustration on him?”
Another instance happened almost around the same time, when I was talking to a woman (the wife of a politician friend). She had filed for divorce. I was talking to her, and she said he beat her regularly. I found it hard to believe her, as he is someone I thought was a genuine person.
Surviving in the political world is not easy--and he not only survived it, but was doing well too. He had seen many ups and downs in life, which he managed judiciously and was well-respected in personal and professional circle. So I wondered why would a normally rational and mature person beat his wife, who was also quite a nice person.
The same issue seemed to be cropping up again--abusing the weakest link. He used to be so tired struggling with the outside world that, at home, he had no patience to deal with his wife’s expectations.
That set me thinking… are we all falling in a trap? We put up a brave face in front of those who we think will not accept our weaknesses, while we exploit the relationships with those who accept us unconditionally. Is that the show of our strength, resilience and bravery, or a is it painful side-effect of our pent up emotions?
Anger management--or, how to control anger--is one of the major areas that I cover in leadership sessions. Some leaders say, "We get angry at our teammates, but then we also apologise, take the teammates out for coffee and so on." Granted, you do that. However, the apology or the cover-up act only work as an M-seal on the crack. The crack gets covered, but it still remains. Similarly, scars of your anger remain on people who were hurt. And mostly, these are the people who are the most powerless in our stakeholder chain. Is it fair?
Many people discuss anger management as an issue. I have a simple question to ask them: If anger is the issue, then why does it not come out in front of all stakeholders? Why are only a select few subjected to it?
Introspection will reveal that it is actually not anger, but an attitude issue. Think about it.