I could have dedicated this post to angels as well. Maybe that would be nice. To write about the good. But this is actually not going to be post about the evil. It’s about demons in all of us that we very often don’t understand and that we often have to face in working environment. You know that situation when you ask: “Why is he/she doing that?” or “Why am I doing this?”. And you don’t have the clear answer.
We all come to the office carrying certain baggage. Whether it is a large suitcase packed many years ago or just hand luggage after a bad weekend or a fight with your family members – it influences our behavior in the office.
Most of it is something that people overcome easily and after a short period of time. But sometimes, if the baggage is too bulky and people can’t deal with it, it can evolve from interpersonal challenges, bad periods and phases into something that I call – demons.
When it goes beyond aggressive career aspirations, lack of emotional intelligence or a troubling personal life that affects the working environment – It’s all, in most of the cases, connected with the past. I’m not a psychologist. So I will try not to write like one. I will give you a couple of profiles of frequent demons and by doing that I will have to scratch the surface of some analytical theories.
Demon No. 1 / Tortured Apprentice
Unfortunately, many young people have a very traumatic outset of their careers. They often have incompetent and not very smart superiors, they go through many frustrations and in many cases, through mobbing. Mobbing is, especially among younger people, justified by a single sentence: “They are beginners, they should go through this boot camp”. I will not get into discussing the area of sexual harassment because that’s a whole separate topic and I’m not competent to discuss it. But it’s there.
And then, one-day, the frustrated beginner becomes a boss. And then, some of them know exactly what they should not do to their reports and they become good managers and leaders, but some of them can’t overcome their demons from the past. And they start torturing the environment around them in an even more brutal way. Victims of control freaks become even bigger control freaks. Rude and arrogant bosses from the past continue to live though new generations. It’s the legacy of a bad leader.
Demon No. 2 / High Ambitions – Low Capabilities
This one is very hard to survive. We have all met, somewhere during our careers, those extremely ambitious people who think that they should either succeed or die. And then, very often they get this Egyptian Pharaoh syndrome (this syndrome actually means something else, but I like it in this context) – where they think that all people around them should die as well, in case of their failure, or what they perceive as “death”.
The biggest problem is when that kind of people has a serious lack of a certain important capability. It doesn’t mean that they are stupid or incapable to do some kind of a job. They can even be fantastic in certain special areas or have very developed selected competences. But, very often they have quite limited emotional and social intelligence. And they desperately want leadership roles – because they are ambitious. Instead of becoming superior specialists for some areas they stream toward higher positions and managing people – or, to be precise, torturing people on a daily basis.
Demon No. 3 / Family Secrets
Until recently I was not ready to accept that whatever we do is somehow connected to our family and to our childhood. Then I have experienced several situations which proved on my personal example that this is 100% true. In order to avoid naïve and amateur use of psychoanalysis I will just list a couple of examples, that I’m sure you can all recognize. I’m not going to interpret it. It’s DIY exercise.
Surviving violence (of any kind) as a child, and now reacting in a very strong manner when exposed to it. Even if it’s violence toward other people. My case, for example.
Suffering serious lack of attention during childhood and now acting like an attention whore all the time.
Having divorced parents focused on their new lives, and now desperately needing the attention, support and love of their managers. Those people often claim they don’t care about it. But actually they care big time.
Smart but lonely child standing alone in a school yard. Now pushy boss forcing his/her employees to be friends, and stay after work to “have fun”.
We all have our challenges, conflicts, problems, wounds… If we are well raised, we are trying to respect people around us and trying not to put pressure on them due to our personal issues. If those issues become demons, then – professional help is needed.
How to deal with people with “demons” if they don’t want to accept help? I would give very simple answer: if you are strong enough and you have reason to fight for – fight them. If not – run away! Faster the better.
Movie recommendation for the weekend is The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Just for fun. With a remark that I have met quite some devils – but not all of them were wearing Prada. Some due to lack of money some due to lack of taste. Recommended drink – Château Vannières 2015 Bandol Rosé. Cheers!