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Are we exploiting our weakest link?

Recently, while coaching a senior professional on emotions management she 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 further asked.

“There are instances when I just can’t stand some conversations with them but I simply ignore them”, was her response.

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 its easy to vent out your frustration on him?”

Another instance happened almost around the same time when I was talking to a lady (the wife of a politician friend). She had filed for divorce. I was talking to her and she said that he beats 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 those who accept us unconditionally, we exploit that relationship. Is that the show of our strength, resilience and bravery or a painful side effect of our pent up emotions?

Anger Management is one of the major leadership coaching areas that I cover. Some leaders say, we get angry on our teammates but then we also apologise, take the teammates out for coffee and so on. Granted, you do that. However, the apology or 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 such people are those 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.


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