For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. When Newton stated this law of motion, he probably was thinking less about Human behavior. But it still speaks a lot about humans.
Read it again, ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. Don’t we do the same as humans? Take the example of a kid who wants to play and his mother who wants him to study. The more the kid is notorious, the more the mother would get strict. Both striving for a balance.
As humans we tend to pull towards a point of balance. The point of balance though, isn’t defined. It is a gray area that resides somewhere in between. The more away the other person from your picture of what is right, the more you would pull towards the other side.
Child and Mother duo is probably an easy but poor example in this case. I would let that be the first one for simplicity, but for the ones asking, here is another. How about a coach and player. The coach’s objective is to extract the best from the player, but the player may or may not be aware of what is missing in his game. The coach would obviously make the player work to get inside the gray area. Similarly the tussle for balance is very much existent in organizations as well.
Aren’t there specific people in your contacts whom you would call a number of times to remind for a very small thing? Why would you need to give them so many reminders? It is the same tussle that I described between the child /mother or a coach /player.
Let’s talk a bit more about the tussle.
“Tussle: A vigorous struggle or scuffle, typically in order to obtain or achieve something.”
Tussle is a strong word, a bit short of fight, but yet strong. And that’s what I believe describes some of these situations. So when does this tussle work and when it doesn’t?
There are two clear scenarios. The one with a commitment# and the one without. All the cases you saw above are with a commitment, either family, work or a friend. The one without commitment could be anyone ranging from a interviewee when hiring for a job or the person manning the ticket counter at the local railway station.
The tussle for balance works in case of commitment, doesn’t work that well for the ones without commitment. I will dive a bit deeper into both these scenarios.
In Case of Strong / Personal Commitment
Lets take the ones with commitment first. What if it wasn’t the child and mother but child and stranger. It is easy to tell a child what to do (mind you, not just studies, say playing with fire or colors or water). The stranger would talk softly, try to guide and perhaps even jump in momentarily if required. But the stranger can hardly do what a parent would do.
The stranger isn’t going to be around for long. They would hope to make a difference with their advice / guidance, strategy etc. They can’t command the same intensity as someone who has a commitment. Similarly a coach and a player share a bond, a common objective. This gives room for a stronger tussle.
The tussle exists more visibly in a scenario where there is strong commitment. It also involves fair bit of emotions. The gray area is the common point acceptable to both parties in a tussle. The narrower the gray area, the larger the side effects of the tussle. The more one person is bent on the other side, more the conflicts.
In Absence Of Strong Commitment
In absence of strong commitment, tussle exists as well. Be it someone you just met at a party or a transactional business like buying a used car. You would negotiate with the seller to get your deal, but you would show lesser emotions. You would want to make friends with someone but show lesser emotions in the tussle to reach that gray area of friendship. It is subtle. It is planned and the end result drives you. But it breaks where the commitment fails. You have options to go to another seller and buy a car, you have others to make friends with. Ignorance would step in the moment any one goes out of the gray area.
Humans juggle emotions along with tussle. Tussle works with commitment, it breaks with non commitment as ignorance steps in. The stickiness in the tussle for balance is provided by commitment^.
The alternative approach
Now that I have spoken of balance, tussle, commitment and ignorance. What is a better approach? You can’t always keep trying to hit the gray area and hope for results? You can’t always bring in ignorance and just let the commitment die? While as humans, the tussle would be an integral part of our behaviour, I would present an alternative here.
Be brutally honest. Arrington describes it for business here. The same could be brought in any relationship, co-worker conversation and even when talking to strangers. Not being diplomatic is difficult, not being ignorant is tough, but being brutally honest is perhaps the most powerful way to exist. And that’s not just power to you, it is power to everyone around you!
# when I say commitment, it means a larger or a longer commitment. Commitment exists in all interactions we do. But visualise your commitment to neighbor’s kids compared to the neighbors themselves.
^ The times when I wrote about Friendship and Face to face with online friends, in these situations perhaps the lack of large / strong commitment breaks the tussle for a common objective. With lack of ‘trust or strong commitment’ (which is easy to miss with online friends) ignorance steps in easily.
PS: I guess, my thoughts have evolved from this point. Apologies for making it a longer read than I usually like. Thank you for reading.