Daily Challenge: Actions and Unspoken Notions


Image: RikScott

Let’s dive, once more, into the psychology of our characters, and therefore, of ourselves.   

If you have ever been employed in a business (AKA office) world, you may have run across the phrases “theory x” and “theory y”.  These are management terms that refer to both a management style, and a type of person.   

In theory X, management assumes that all employees are inherently lazy and self-serving, and that they dislike work and will do only the minimum required to keep from being fired.   

Theory Y suggests that people are self-motivated, ambitious, and strongly self-controlled.   

If you were to get into a discussion with managers, especially those who have been around for a long while, however, a very interesting dichotomy would likely show up.  Here it is:  

Managers who proclaim that they are of the Theory Y tribe (the more politically correct, one would think), are most likely to operate as though they were of the Theory X group.  Granted, one could almost predict this result.  We always want to look good, no matter what.   

But here’s the real oddity.  Many managers who proclaim themselves to be Theory X treat their employes as though they were Theory Y.   

Note that this isn’t a scientific study, but rather an observation of myself, and of fellow managers over my years in office environments.   

As far as writing goes, it doesn’t so much matter which theory one espouses, and which is acted upon.  What is important is that as human beings we often do not run ourselves in accordance with our strongly and publicly held beliefs.   

Today’s challenge is to look for an experience in your life that typifies this apparent arbitrary behavior.  Whether it be yourself, or someone you have observed—note that not only is it easier to see this in someone else, it is also easier to talk about it if someone else perpetrates.   

Once you find the action, find a way to describe it succinctly in narrative.  I’d be anxious to see what you come up with.   

Your thoughts?


5 responses to “Daily Challenge: Actions and Unspoken Notions

  1. To sharp-eyed readers: Yes, I know that the Theory X, Theory Y concept has fallen from favor. I used them as examples of how we behave only.

  2. Estelle was a young girl who always felt like she was in the wrong. She had been brought up to think it was always her fault. She had been taught that she had to be humble, although she was often aggressive in her dealing with others. She felt that she had a spiritual side, but she had also been taught that it was only a proud spirit who would broadcast their goodness and spirituality. Spirituality was only to be found in the fruits, or what was done within one’s life, what affected one’self and others to the betterment of their spiritual values.
    Amanda on the other hand felt confident that she had indeed found the core of her being and thus her spirituality. She was exceedingly productive, and spread the word of the gospel without reservation.
    However, Estelle often felt that what was preached did not necessarily mean that it was practiced. That the wisdom in life was not to be found in the precept, or the platitude, but in the day to day occurrences from which could be drawn, as an exemplification, the remembrance of one of those austere sayings. These she looked for, seldom found, but was occasionally happy to find that something she had done emulated the vision of the pontifical spiritualists. However, these discoveries were not easily shared with others, and so like any possible happiness, it was something that was kept to herself.
    Amanda, on the other hand, held happiness as the ultimate not only of what one could reach for, but instilled the idea that if you believed you were happy, then indeed you were, although occasionally, something would happen which gave evidence that there was the possibility of a dichotomy between what was practiced and assumed as a given.
    But as there was no arguing in the final analysis, of what happiness was, and basically neither to offer proof to the other that they embodied an incarnation of the dream of happiness, each continued to inhabit their separate offices. Amanda believed that she had found the answer, but did not grieve Estelle’s seeming lack of happiness, but rather held that she could her condition could be merely the result of a victim mentality. Estelle, believed that Amanda was essentially no happier than she was, and did not think that any pretense on her part to convince others of her happiness, would necessarily make her more happy.
    Fortunately, we do not have to choose to work for either of these employers. Our lives are our own, and we might even find ‘happiness’ the way things go, even if we are ‘unemployed’ and not in the ‘market place’.

  3. Interesting take. Thanks.

    • I suppose as a poetic prose fiction I guess it is alright, but as far as happiness goes as each character does nothing, or very little to provide for the happiness of the other, it might be considered a complete failure. But thanks, Richard. These are writing challenges after all, not essays in philosophical or religious truths.

  4. Maybe I ‘didn’t get the point’! I thought the challenge was to present an example of the arbitrariness in determining public vs. private behaviors…….Was there really an ‘argument’, or was it not a psychological probe! Anyway, if the following post is related, relevant, it is I feel a very interesting comment….P.S. They know well enough not to work for either of the employers, I suppose. Thank goodness it was only classified as inane, and not insane!

    I stumbled across some rather inane behavior in the blogosphere recently.

    I suppose I must be more specific.

    Here goes: Two individuals arguing about who was happiest.


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