In the end, only kindness matters. Anyone can get results by screaming and yelling – especially if they hold a power position. The ‘yelled at’ people respond to the yeller’s position – not the meanness. The ‘yeller’ (person in the leadership position) is fooled into believing that his/her meanness (a.k.a toughness) actually works. They believe that that is what got them to the power position that they hold – and what keeps them there. In reality, it is not so much their toughness – as it is other people’s weakness/timidity – that lets them get away with it.
If more people had the courage to stand up to mean bosses, there would be a feedback mechanism which may eventually cause the extinction of the ‘meanness’ gene (at least in the workplace).
And if more people started every human interaction with kindness, the whole ‘meanness’ problem would not even arise. To all the mean bosses out there, I pose a question – If you are relatively healthy, have a roof over your head and food on the table, what reason do you have to be mean to another person?
What makes meanness even harder to digest is when it comes from a public figure – a figure that younger generations often look up to. Two examples come to mind from the world of sport. Serena Williams, the number one women’s tennis player, cursing (and threatening to kill) a woman umpire at the U.S. Open semifinals.
What would cause a person who has been given everything in the world react in this way? To make matters worse, Serena refused (and to this day refuses) to apologize for the incident. Andy Roddick has taken this arrogance to an art form. Linesmen, Reporters, Umpires – are all part of his daily abuse squad. His meanness is so publicly evident that there is a forum devoted to discussing just how much of a jerk he is. Where are the Agassis and the Chris Evert Lloyds of American tennis?
What I would like to see is linesmen standing up for themselves – and getting back at these ‘behaviorally challenged’ superstars. I would like the lineswoman that Serena threatened to stand up and say ‘Just you try’. At the same time, I would encourage Serena and Andy to do some soul searching. They have the opportunity to be real role-models. Instead, they continue to display the loser side of their personalities on a highly public stage. No matter how many tournaments they win, they will never be considered winners.
Courage (from the yelled at) and kindness (from the yellers) – still hard to find.