The hardest guy in the room

A female executive sobbed her guts out in front of me and twenty others in a pitch review meeting late one night, after she received a torrent of cold blade criticism from me . My reply as she had tears streaming down her face was bluntly “I could give a fuck about you or your tears, I’ve had women cry in front of me for years.”

This behaviour is not normal or healthy. As head of strategy in multinational agencies people could be forgiven for thinking I wanted to be known as the smartest guy in the room. I had little desire at all for that, I wanted to be the hardest guy in the room. Everyone is smart, but I made it a point of being utterly rock hard and impervious.

That is a maladaptive state created by non nurturing behaviour when I being raised, endogenetic depression and work cultures built on one metric “did you win?” The wounded adaptive adult then adopts a state, many times this state is called “better than” mode. It separates and protects a person from themselves first and others second.

I have and continue to apologise to some of my former colleagues, as I have reflected on the utter brutality of interactions with me. Compassion is not weak nor empathy. We need both for those so wounded they are better than mode just as we need compassion for those who feel “less than” at work .

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