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.