To what extent is boredom and dissatisfaction behind picking fights?
If this writer is correct or if what she suggests is right sometimes, we ought be able to make very useful shifts in our responses to much of others’ “difficult” behaviours: annoyance, antagonism, hostility, nastiness, unkindness, spite, meanness, malice, malevolence, plain old bad-temper and other forms of poking sticks at people.
I believe she is right and that the insight, coupled with another simple shift in perception, can make a very significant difference to the workplace environment when others seem intent on well- poisoning or being difficult ( behaving in ways we find challenging), and do much to facilitate conflict resolution.
Next time others pick on you, behave unkindly, give you unwarranted criticism or behave in other negative ways towards or around you, consider this possibility:
So much . . . vitriol boils down to nothing more than bored people, disappointed with their own lives, poking others with sticks.
So writes Gaby Hinsliff, author and journalist in a January 2014 Guardian Weekly article. She continues:
Boredom is [ . . . ] secondary only in its capacity for damage to the self-destructive things we do to relieve it: eating too much, getting hammered, picking fights (virtual or in real life), taking stupid risks, having affairs, mooching mindlessly around the shops buying things we don’t really need. At its purest it isn’t just having nothing to do but being deeply dissatisfied with what there is to do, and with yourself. To be properly bored you need to think you deserve to be happier than this, at least as happy as all those other people seem to be.
It’s a short step from there to resenting anyone who do seem to have meaning and purpose in their lives.
It’s worth recognising that we all have differently creative ways of expressing our deepest problems; and that forms of lashing-out are very often paradoxical – and unaware – calls for others’ help or understanding about unhappy situations or lives. [Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to pick a fight.]
It’s not an attack until I defend myself (and then it is) is a thought and a perspective that can help us reach out, respond helpfully or at least stay confidently unaffected rather than choose to attack in return. In interpersonal relationships, believing that “attack is the best form of defence” can quickly turn a challenging encounter into a very messy situation.
It’s not an attack until I defend myself . . . is one of many attitudinal adjustments examined and taught in Hear & Be Heard, the interpersonal skills-training programme in which I coach and train. While it’s a simple thought, it’s not necessarily easy to bring into focus and hold. If you’ve done the training and had forgotten how to do that, re-read the Conflict section of the Guidebook before someone next picks on you. If you’ve not undertaken Hear & Be Heard, check it out.