Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Crucial Conversations

I was struck by something I read in the book Crucial Conversations:
Let’s try another example. You share a cubicle with a four-star slob and you’re a bit of a neat freak. Your coworker has left you notes written in grease pencil on your file cabinet, in catsup on the back of a french-fry bag, and in permanent marker on your desk blotter. You, in contrast, leave him typed Post-it notes. Typed.

At first you sort of tolerated each other. Then you began to get on each other’s nerves. You started nagging him about cleaning up. He started nagging you about your nagging. Now you’re beginning to react to each other. Every time you nag, he becomes upset, and, well, let’s say that he doesn’t exactly clean up. Every time he calls you an “anal-retentive nanny,” you vow not to give in to his vile and filthy ways.

What has come from all this bickering? Now you’re neater than ever, and your cubicle partner’s half of the work area is about to be condemned by the health department. You’re caught in a self-defeating loop. The more the two of you push each other, the more you create the very behaviors you both despise.
Some points to consider:
  1. How many obsessive behaviors stem from the inability or unwillingness to address and resolve conflict in healthy ways?
  2. How much of OCD is about conjuring the illusion of control in reaction to circumstances/forces that elude our control?
  3. Has anyone yet coined the term 'Spiteful Excellence'?
  4. How many of us have a false sense of superiority or righteousness because we obsessively excel at things that - in the larger scheme of things - don't really matter?


  1. Is this a book? It looks like one I should have read a long time ago. I wonder if it's too late for me. Very useful post.

  2. Yes, it's a book. I still haven't finished listening to it. I'm getting frustrated because so far there's more marketing than actual helpful material...


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