Thursday, February 25, 2010

Finding the Line

The ladies of thongcharm have spent the past couple weeks in some interesting organizational waters. People have been acting kooky, all around, and not just kooky in a "wow, spring fever hit early" sort of way. They've been downright illogical, often immoral, mildly insane, and occasionally illegal in their behaviors. Now, some (shout out - KD!) might call this normal corporate behavior, but let's pretend it isn't.

The question that continues to baffle me is this:  Do they know when they've crossed the line?

If the line exists - and I would posit that it does - between something moral or immoral, legal or illegal, is it known to the person prior to their mental breakdown? In my experience, some lines were clear to the individual, and some were unclear. According to the legal knowledge I've gleaned from Law & Order, these people all knew there were lines, and could reasonably identify many of them, but had a profound blind spot in a few (and since this isn't murder or pornography, the lines are, admittedly, much less TV-worthy). So, they would not ordinarily be classified as "insane."

However, in the grey areas, they clearly could draw the line if they were the victims of it - but not if they were the perpetrators. Quick to identify even the slightest affront to their identity, they lash out when someone crosses a line against them - but seem unable to tell when they do it to others. 

I used to believe it was skillful real-time rationalization of line crossing, either under some paternalistic guise or for some greater good. I no longer believe that because 

a) These folks don't seem smart enough for real time rationalization. The best rationalizers I know require at least 60 minutes to get over items of this size. 
b) Even under the best of interpretations, most of the line crossing is done for the personal good - not for any greater good. 

So, my new working theory on the topic is that they exhibit the behavior patterns of children. Children know when they are crossing a line, and tend to do it with a real "but I want the dolly" and "you're not the boss of me" attitude. It is almost as though they are actively shoving the "crossing a line" alarm into the corner, and drowning it in sobs, pleas, and petulance. Supernanny sits them down on the naughty stair, and they can tell you precisely where they went wrong. But, they wont admit it until they've calmed down and been caught in the act. 

It's comforting, at least, that this isn't an alien race, so much as one who is more stunted in 3rd grade. Now, if only we can prevent more of them from reaching management by discouraging the behavior in the next crop of corporate grade schoolers. 

1 comment:

Priya said...

people cross big fat unethical lines when they feel they've been wronged. "everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't i?" is the motto of this person. and what i've observed is that it leads to ass monkey behavior; whining about needing promotions, cutting around other cars, asking for more money. someone behind them is telling them to go get theirs and that's what they are going to do.

the other type of line crossing is a lot less egregious and the only thing wronged is the system itself. "hey it's harmless, it's a loophole, no one will ever know". and it's things like not putting in a vacation day, or overcharging an expense receipt, or figuring out how to contest a ticket. technically it's not right, but it's not horribly wrong, either.