Behaviors are ugly

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Joined: 01/20/2010
TurmoilOrganizational Behaviors

My boss thought well enough of me to ship me off to Emory University in Atlanta for some ‘mid-career counseling.’ Our company often used two psychologists at Emory who specialized in ferreting out the 1 or 2 key deep behavioral traits that stood in the way of individuals going from good to great. I spent an entire day undergoing psychological testing: Rorschach Blot, IQ, EQ, Body Language, Memory Recall, Facial Expressions, etc. It was an intense exercise administered by both psychologists, many times in stereo.

At the end of the day I made an off-hand remark: "Anyone going through this should have their head examined." "That’s exactly the kind of comment we want to talk to you about!" The doctors explained how I had a habit of making a joke about everything. I came across as not taking anything seriously and I needed to consider how this was very annoying, especially to those who didn’t know me. More audaciously they claimed I inherited this behavior from my father!

I left their office disappointed. The company did not get their money’s worth. The diagnosis seemed peripheral and shallow at best. Afterward, I paid a surprise visit to my sister outside Atlanta and told her why I was in town. "Well if anyone needs a psychiatrist it’s you!" Why that was exactly the kind of comment I had just been accused of and here it was coming from my sister! The sins of the father are visited upon the son … and the daughter. I had just reached Step One on my long road to recovery: acknowledging there was a problem.

Whack-a-Mole is a carnival game where a mechanical mole pops its head out of a hole and you smack it down with a mallet only to have another one pop out of a nearby hole. The better you get at smacking them down the faster they come out of the holes. As soon as you smack down one bad behavior or habit, another one pops up to take its place. Wouldn’t it be great if we could send each employee down to Emory University to identify the key personality traits getting in the way of their productivity? Sadly I’ve replaced my snide remarks with other equally annoying traits. It’s a never ending struggle. And those snide remarks still pop up at the most inopportune moments.