Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Oh Grow up please! - More tantrums.

I am returning a favourite subject. Tantrums. 

This time, adult tantrums in meetings. Moments when you and your colleagues may want to shout, 
"Oh for God's sake, grow up!" 
There's the clue. The adult is temporarily behaving like a child. 

Not physically looking like a child, except perhaps in mannerisms.

Not dressing like a child.
Not showing the intelligence of a child.
But becoming like a child - emotionally.

A recent conversation took place between me and some business colleagues. The subject 

of the behaviour of colleagues was mentioned. We all came up with examples of incidents we 
had witnessed. Discussing it further, I suggested that while the phrase, 'behaving like a child' would 
accurately describe the behaviour observed. There were different reasons behind the immaturity described. 
They are not gender specific.

1. A colleague wasn't getting his own way in a discussion. He shouted and stomped out of the room. 
He did this regularly. His boss was never really able to manage him properly and tended to give into 

2. A man 'exploded' because the work wasn't going the way he felt it ought to go. He cannot tolerate 
anything less than perfect.

3. A woman felt that she was being left out of a discussion. She got up from the table
 dramatically, went out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

4. This is not quite 'a tantrum', but bolshy, immature behaviour. A woman being quietly disruptive, when someone is presenting or speaking.

It can be embarrassing to watch an adult 'throw' a tantrum. People having a 'strop' and walking out 
of the room. I'm sure that most of all have experienced this. In fact, I'm embarrassed to admit that I am 
No: 3.

I'll run through the examples given and suggest some possible triggers for the action.

1. A man in his 50s. An only child and close to his mother. He held a prestigious academic 
position in a university. He regularly had tantrums in the workplace. Generally, shouting, screaming, 
banging the table and walking out of meetings. Most of time, he succeeded in getting his on way.

I would suggest that while he had a high IQ, his EQ (Emotional Intelligence) did not match. He 
presented as a man/boy. He had grown up getting his own way by having tantrums and was indulged 
by staff members. Unless someone was able to draw boundaries and be consistent in their non 
acceptance of his behaviour, it was likely to carry on.

2. I've seen this happen many times. A man or woman with a high IQ and a list of achievements. 
Achievements that they are generally not satisfied with. For every document they produce, there 
have been ten, twenty, thirty drafts. They cannot be satisfied with their work.

My suggestion for this behaviour is that while their IQ is high and their adult achievements witness 
to this fact, they are driven by childhood experiences of their work not being considered good enough.  
It could come from a teacher or family member. It may be a perception rather than an actual event, but 
their EQ in delivering work, is stuck in childhood. 

When I did my training, I was taught that 'perfectionists achieve nothing'. That's not quite true. 

But they probably dispose of some really excellent work and ideas on the way to producing the final 
piece of work. Productivity is low and time-wasting is high. This can add to the stress of deadlines. 
People with perfectionist tendencies, often have high levels of anxiety. It's not good for general health 
to have cortisol coursing through the body constantly. It's wonderful in small doses.

3. I remember this well, though it was 28 years ago. I behaved in a sulky (childish in itself) way in the 

meeting, wound myself up and then made a dramatic exit. Why? Because I didn't feel I was being 
included. Someone had forgotten to inform me of the meeting. I found out at the last minute. I felt ignored 
and left out. It wasn't fair!  I resorted to an attention-seeking behaviour.  It worked in so much that I drew 
attention to myself, but ultimately the people left in the room, were rightly, not impressed. Fortunately,
I wasn't indulged and never did it again. There were more adult ways to communicate. I know I was 
resorting to the child, who wasn't listened to or opinions acknowledged.  But that was then and this 
was now.  I needed to 'grow up'. I did.

4. A person is part of a group listening to a speaker or watching a presentation. The subject may be 
of little interest to them, it may be boring, it may being poorly delivered. We've all been in meetings 
like that. The person quietly, but noticeably, shows their dissatisfaction. They feel they are superior  
in some way, to the speaker. They start to engage a neighbour in low level asides. Just like being 
in the back row at school. I know, because I was that 'back row' child. The worst case I witnessed was 
perhaps, not surprisingly, between two members of staff from a young persons exclusion unit. They 
behaved like their students.  In my most recent observation of this behaviour, the person involved was 
retired. They are experiencing difficulties not being wanted professionally anymore and 'should have 
known better'. Isn't that what you say to a child? I felt an enormous urge to tell them to 'grow up' and 
stop being so rude. At 70?

These situations can be embarrassing. Embarrassing for the observers at the time, embarrassing for the 
tantrum giver, with hindsight. To repeat my mantra, ' Childlike is okay at times, childish not okay 

Enjoying childlike moments of joy, fun, wonderment, innocent curiosity and simple pleasures, is to be recommended and encouraged until the day we die. We can still behave as an adult, remain in control and it is not boring.

What certainly is boring and a pain for everyone involved, is childish behaviour. A child takes control of our thoughts and actions and the results can be extremely damaging and long lasting.

Some people won't learn anything at all, because they blame others for their actions. "They made me 
do it." Another well-used expression from childhood. Others won't change because they gain something 
from their actions and don't want to lose that control. It's known as secondary gain in therapeutic work 
and difficult to work with sometimes. 

These adults had been emotionally hijacked.  While they were being adult in their body, their minds 

had been hijacked by their emotionally needy child from way back when. 

A child who had a need to be heard, a need to be liked, a need for healthy attention, a need for 
acknowledgement of their competence.

A child who needed to feel good enough. But they are an adult now and don't have to 
listen to the old voices, past their sell-by date. 

It's time to 'grow-up'.


Thursday, 10 January 2013

Oh, not again! Resolutions.

So many of us start the year with good intentions to change something in our lives. Something that, maybe, we're are not happy with. But our endeavours so often lie in ruins before the first week is out. We failed at the first or second obstacle and gave up. The underlying message that feeds our soul, is that 'we're a failure'. 

Last year at this time, I wrote about my attitude to resolutions, particularly losing weight. I had a target.  A real target, not a fluffy idea. Something concrete. Being measured for a Games Maker uniform for the London12 Olympics and Paralympics. I succeeded in losing 26lbs. Hooray. It wasn’t easy, as I’m not good on the slow and steady route, but I got there.

Of course a few pounds a have crept back on, but I know what worked before, so here I go again. I have a wedding to attend in three weeks time and I’m back on track. The jacket and skirt that fitted me for a wedding last November, before the Christmas/New Year blow-out, make a concrete target. 

Modern technology has made it much easier, if you choose to use it. Here I will give a mention to Weight Watchers and their daily online diary. Group meetings are not for me, but keeping tabs on my laptop or mobile, has made decision making and motivation so much easier. It fascinates me, on why this particular method appears to be more successful than others.  Not only for me. Personally, I am not forbidden anything, nothing is 'a sin' or 'bad' and that is important. The other clever element is how it encourages you to do a little more exercise, any exercise will count. Even meandering around shops, should you so wish. 


At the weekend, I read an article by a life coach about her own life. She experienced some major life events in 2011 and is having to address the fall-out. It would appear that while she knew what she would advise a client, she didn’t actually heed her own advice...until now.

The British Government on on the warpath against obesity and the millions it is costing the NHS in treating the consequential problems. It doesn’t help their case, when not only are some government members grossly obese, but so are medical staff. 

A small insight here from someone who has many years of experience working on hospital wards. The kind gifts of chocolates or biscuits, that are always in the office are highly tempting. The staff canteen, while featuring a healthy option, also displays the more tempting fare of fat and sugar laden foods. Before the 1990s, it was also the place where the staff could smoke, which they did copiously. Some things have changed for the better.

A survivor from the hedonistic music world is the drummer, *Ginger Baker. A man who had a serious, acknowledged drug addiction. In a recent newspaper profile he was asked about his life with an addiction.


" Perhaps it would have been easier to go to rehab? "No, no, no, no! There's only one person who can help an addict and that's an addict himself. The whole rehab thing is just a bloody con to make money and take advantage. The whole thing is nonsense."

Music to my ears and acknowledgement of my own observations.

Another pop musician, Amy Winehouse, sang about not going into rehab.

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

I'd rather be at home with ray
I ain't got seventy days
Cause there's nothing
There's nothing you can teach me
That I can't learn from Mr Hathaway

I didn't get a lot in class
But I know it don't come in a shot glass

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

The man said 'why do you think you here'
I said 'I got no idea
I'm gonna, I'm gonna lose my baby
so I always keep a bottle near'
He said 'I just think you're depressed,
Kiss me, yeah baby, and go rest'

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know

I don't ever wanna drink again
I just ooh I just need a friend
I'm not gonna spend ten weeks
have everyone think I'm on the mend

It's not just my pride
It's just 'til these tears have dried

They tried to make me go to rehab but I said 'no, no, no'
Yes I've been black but when I come back you'll know know know
I ain't got the time and if my daddy thinks I'm fine
He's tried to make me go to rehab but I won't go go go

But, sadly, she didn't survive. The friend she needed, remained in the bottle. There were many who wanted to help her (and also take advantage of her vulnerability), but she died before reaching that point of "I'm the only one that can do this" As Ginger Baker did. 

Is there something in your life you want to change for the better? Are you putting it off? Are you blaming others? What are you telling yourself about not succeeding? 

At some point, the penny will drop and you'll make that decision that change can happen and you can make it happen.

I'm not saying it will be easy, but it can be done.

Take you pick of some good quotes:

In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time.
Anthony J. D'Angelo 

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

Bill Crosby

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

or perhaps you're just not ready...yet.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.
W.C. Fields

* My husband feels that it should be mentioned that when we were just young things in 1967, we attended a university ball where a group was playing to about twenty people dancing. If only we'd really known and appreciated who it was. They were called Cream. The members were Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton.