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The evil of our time is the loss of consciousness of evil.” – . Krishnamurti

“Outta my way!” seems to be the mantra that defines many folks’ orientation to Black Friday. In recent years, Black Friday has brought out the worst – the dark side, the shadow side – of folks. (The data are not in for 2017.)

Consider:

Police arrested a Wisconsin woman who cut in front of a long line – after she allegedly threatened to shoot those she moved ahead of.

In North Buffalo, New York, several shoppers were trampled – trampled! – as they surged through a Target store. Reports called it a “nasty mob.”

Out-of-control, pushy and unruly shoppers in Sacramento, California, caused a store to be evacuated. The Sheriff’s office had to be brought in.

In Tulalip WA, black Friday shoppers descended on a Nike store like a “Zombie Apocalypse.

But, wait, there’s more.

Store managers and others connected to these incidents say the causes, generally, are competition and anxiety. Competition and anxiety? Hmmm.

This gets me to thinking of how many of our workplaces – on the other 364 days a year –  are characterized by both subtle and not-so-subtle “competition and anxiety.” I’d guess more than a few. And, I’m curious about what the consequences are of much of our workplace “competition and anxiety.”

Often, folks experience colleagues and co-workers whose behavior reflects some type of assault on “anybody who gets in my way” – a “Black-Friday”-type of mentality of folks whose sole reason for living is to take care of themselves and work for their own good – blinded by their own ego-driven need to win or succeed at any cost.

While such violent instances of “stomping on” and “trampling over” others are not everyday occurrences in our workplaces, the mantra of “stepping on folks to get what I want” is  a mantra lived out daily by some leaders, managers and employees who are driven by their own flavor of “competition and anxiety.” While we don’t witness actual stampedes on a daily basis at work, we do witness more subtle, but equally-painful” crimes of “morale-stomping,” “spirit-stomping,” “satisfaction-stomping,” “passion-stomping” and “reputation-stomping” by those who mis-treat, mis-use and abuse their colleagues just to soothe their own ego needs for control, recognition and security – driven by “competition and anxiety.”

Those who step on and trample overs others to get what they want, to feel like a “somebody,” usually fall into such categories as: bullies, egoists, narcissists, and psychopaths – folks who don’t or can’t respect others, trust others or see the humanity in others – at work, and at home, at play and in relationship. Their deeper emotional and psychological issues drive them to regard relationships as win-lose or dominate. Their “win at all costs”, “zero-sum” approach to relationships is based a need to be triumphant while shaming or humiliating others.

Corrupting, manipulating, bullying, gossiping, one-upping, disrespecting, demeaning and devaluing others in order to gain power and praise, status and influence, and control reflect these folks’ “Black Friday, outta-my-way!” behaviors that destroy others – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically. Intimidation, back-stabbing, and sabotage are their “Black Friday, outta-my-way!” behaviors that cause others mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological distress – stomping on others’ passion and spirit.

In order to survive, to feel “seen” and be “somebody,” these bullies, psychopaths and narcissists trample on others through humiliation, criticism, persecution, ignoring, sabotaging, attacking, scapegoating, ganging up on, controlling, denigrating, and contradicting others, as they seek special treatment for themselves.

From an emotional or psychological perspective, what brings one to trample on and walk all over others? What’s underneath their ruthlessness – their lack of sensitivity, respect or considerateness? Here are three sources:

  • Upbringing – being raised in a harsh, abusive environment where they were consistently called lazy, good for nothing, or stupid, i.e., a “nobody”. This individual sees the workplace as their “family.” Their “I’ll show you I’m somebody!” mantra drives them to walk over others in order to feel, and prove to others, they have value and worth.
  • Compliance – growing up in an environment that resembled boot camp. Now they intimidate and threaten in order to feel successful. They demand complete compliance and obedience. Stomping on others is their “motivational approach” to exacting compliance.
  • Ignorance – they don’t know how else to be. Growing up in an environment where force was king, they integrated “force” into their psyche and so, “force it is.” It’s their default programming.

On Black Friday, as well as in in many of our workplaces, the important question is, “Where is the civility?”

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you experience folks being/feeling distressed in your workplace? Do you have systems in place to support these folks? If not, why not?
  • Are bullies, psychopaths and narcissists a major reason folks leave your organization? Is abuse a reason people leave?
  • How does your organization deal with abrasive people? Is abrasiveness condoned as “business as usual?”
  • How are matters of abuse dealt with?
  • Do performance and productivity suffer as a result of emotional distress? Are folks passive-aggressive? Is “presenteeism” a common occurrence in your workplace?
  • Do you suffer from presenteeism (showing up but far less than 100%) due to workplace bullies, psychopaths or narcissists?
  • Do folks feel helpless when dealing with arrogant, abrasive leaders, managers and colleagues?
  • Have you ever been accused of being arrogant, abrasive, bullying, or disrespectful? How did that make you feel?
  • Did people in your childhood environment reflect elements of bullying, narcissism or psychopathology? Did you? How so?
  • Have you ever stepped on someone else to get what you want? Do you now?
  • Have you ever been victimized by someone who stepped on you to get ahead? What was that like?

“The greatest evil is not done in those sordid dens of evil that Dickens loved to paint – but it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried) in clear, carpeted, warmed, well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.“- C.S. Lewis, Introduction of the Screwtape Letters

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(c) 2017, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.  Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t.  You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

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