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Decency will always trump arrogance…

Have you ever felt truly impotent? I don’t mean in some sexually dysfunctional way, I mean in the way that you believe you have some power, some influence, some sway and say, but in reality a greater power with a superior wave of the hand – or press of an e-mail’s ‘send’ button – can put you firmly in your place.

You can spend months in meetings with staff, talking in immense detail about what the pros and cons of your ideas are, getting them to buy into the policy and provide their own input, which makes them feel valued too. Everybody has their say, it’s a superb team effort and you are all really pleased with what you have produced.

Then, when you’ve revised the plan and tweaked the plan and tightened up the plan – and lost umpteen nights of sleep and upset various members of your family – you finally decide that you’ve got it at least 90 per cent right. You expect some comeback from ‘upstairs’ – that is inevitable, otherwise it would look like they didn’t have a clue about what was going on ‘on the ground’ (which they don’t, of course).

But they don’t just amend or tweak your plan, they tear it to pieces and point out that you haven’t addressed this issue or that issue – mainly because they knew about them all along but never thought to communicate this down the line. So [mixed metaphor warning] you’ve been working your socks off in the dark with one hand tied behind your back and a massive stone in your shoe surrounded by banana skins and broken glass.

So what do you do? Accept that you are indeed truly impotent? That there will always be a greater power that will control you? That this is your lot? There’s no point in giving them a piece of your mind, of course, or pointing out that the errors are theirs. They a) wouldn’t listen and b) would mark you down as a trouble-maker whose attempts at progression or change would forever be thwarted.

It’s tricky. It leaves a nasty taste in your mouth and plants a seed of stress that never fully leaves you. Unless you have already developed a hardened skin, of course, and the whole thing means nothing to you.

In this way I have to envy those who simply don’t give a damn. The ones who treat people like dirt on their shoe so do not get emotional when it happens to them. However, while I may envy them for their ability to sleep trouble-free at night, there is no way on this planet that I would ever want to be anything like them.

At least when I am impotent and powerless and undervalued and ignored I can always console myself with the fact that I’m one of the good guys and that the only reason I get mistreated is because my decency makes me an easy target.

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Rory Baxter, owner of The Word Factory, has decades of experience as a writer, editor, and public relations practitioner.

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