Blog 135. Business, Money And Your Career: Rigidity Or A Lack Of Flexibility Can Destroy A Career.
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No matter where you are, there is always that one person who is pessimistic, who can’t, who won’t, who complains, who questions everything, and who is frankly – a right pain in the butt. Most people are however, able to negotiate their way around stubborn people and often some kind of compromise is reached – eventually.
But now and again, you may come across someone who is just not prepared to budge in any way, whatsoever. Sadly, this may be due to a more than just a foible, and therefore it is important that this issue be better understood.
Extreme rigidity can however end relationships and indeed careers too. But before it does, it is important to address the issue by becoming aware. Sometimes having information can help colleagues or bosses make informed choices – and this may lead to a more compassionate course of action.
1) In some cases, the problem may be due to a health issue which:
- May as yet not have been diagnosed or,
- The person may not wish to address the issues out of fear, and so on.
Unfortunately, any innate stubbornness may then be further highlighted or underlined as a result. But bosses or colleagues are not doctors, and they may not be able to determine that there is an underlying health issue.
2) Also and in only very rare cases, do we see someone seriously locked in a childhood stage which can be absolutely debilitating and very difficult, especially for those who have to deal with them in the office:
Jared Diamond who is an American geographer, historian, anthropologist, and author, wrote that, “Rigidity or inflexibility can be the result of a previous history of abuse or trauma, or of an upbringing that offered a child no permission to experiment or to deviate from the family norms. Flexibility can come from the freedom of having been allowed to make one’s own choices as one was growing up.”
As a result, a child may become emotionally stuck, especially at a particular age that the event took place.
As already discussed in earlier blogs, Sigmund Freud believed that, “the development of a healthy adult personality was the result of successfully completing each of the psychosexual stages. At each point in development, children face a conflict that must be resolved in order to move successfully on to the next stage. How this conflict is resolved plays a role in the formation of the adult personality.”
In addition to resulting from failure at a certain stage of psychosexual development, Freud also believed that fixations could result if a particular stage left a dominant impression on an individual’s personality.
In particular, rigidity, stubbornness, a lack of flexibility, fixations, often also stem from what Freud called the second stage of child development, which he called the Anal Stage.
Although this is a stage primarily focused on controlling bowel movements, it could also lead to either an anal-retentive or an anal-expulsive personality. The first would have experienced an overly strict and harsh potty training as children and may grow to be overly obsessed, also with orderliness and tidiness. The second may have experienced very lax potty training resulting in them also being very messy and disorganised as adults.
As I have previously pointed out, to the layman this could all sound like a load of hog wash, but it was only when I sat in the therapist’s chair that it all began to make sense – when I witnessed various people with serious anal or control issues and some still struggling to get off the potty.
Some even had good careers but were held back emotionally. They were unable to make certain decisions and they preferred to sit stuck, rigid and waiting. Trying to force the situation or get them to make decisions was usually really difficult, as they’d just not learnt to let go. Mostly they would be emotionally controlling, rigid and very stubborn to a point of being fixated on certain issues, ranging from what they ate and when, to how they dressed, where or how they lived, the weather, and so on. As a result, they can be very exacting and hard work. Sadly, their lives can also become extremely restricted by their emotional demands and what they in turn expect others to do for them or not, depending on the situation they find themselves in.
And if they’re ever successful and indeed, your boss – dealing with them can be very hard going.
On the other hand, they can also be interesting individuals. But in most cases, they can seriously test people’s patience – often beyond capacity.
Of course not everyone who is stubborn, is anally retentive. In some cases, stubbornness can be an asset – but NOT if it makes colleague’s lives miserable or if the company suffers as a result.
However, in the workplace, no one should ever be expected to play the role of a therapist and being better informed is one thing, but whether you want to work or continue working with this kind of person – is of course your choice.
It is therefore important to strike a balance between flexibility and rigidity especially in the workplace.
Also, how we work is changing and flexibility is now crucial. Some prefer to work from home and others prefer flexible working hours, whereas some jobs may require physical attendance at all times. How we manage this and the staff involved, will depend on the company’s mission and where it wishes to go strategically.
Also, that which won’t yield in not necessarily weak, but taking things to the extreme can be detrimental for a company or the staff involved.
However, because we all went through the Anal Stage, understanding it better or knowing that it exists, will help us all hopefully catch ourselves when we become too stubborn or find colleagues looking at us with raised eyebrows. Fingers crossed that is.
PS: A vast amount has been written with regards this subject. What I wrote, is a mere taster to help you become more aware so that you can take a more informed approach. If however this has affected you personally, and you think you need help with any of which has been addressed, please do speak to your doctor about joining a support group, seeing either a therapist or a life coach, and so on.
© 2020 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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