Lately my son has been chaos incarnate. He has been an unholy terror capable of infinite levels of destruction. It has been a truly unpleasant couple of weeks. So what have I done to remedy the situation? I’ve yelled at him. I’ve held the door shut to his room while he screams his face off and then I’ve yelled some more. It has been, to say the least, a pretty terrible experience. But there is one person who I blame above all else; myself.

I’ve spent weeks yelling at my son because he’s been so exceedingly difficult and all he’s done in return is yell back. It’s been a lesson in futility and a lesson in ineptitude and I’ve seen it a million times in almost every business I’ve ever worked for. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I don’t like to work for other people anymore. It’s ironic, but not surprising (or maybe it’s not ironic, dammit Alanis, I don’t know anymore) that the same qualities I loathe in employers are the same qualities that I display constantly in my parenting.

I’ve worked with bosses who treat employees with absolutely no respect and then wonder why they’re disrespected. I’ve worked with bosses that are dishonest and disloyal and then wonder why they’re teams are dishonest and disloyal to them. I’ve worked with bosses who will do anything to get ahead, including throwing their own team members under the boss and then they wonder why their teams don’t trust them. So I ask you the same question that I so regularly ask myself. Yelling…how’s that working out for you.

It’s one thing to know that what you’re doing is wrong. It’s another thing to have the strength and fortitude to fix it. Why? Well, there’s a few reasons. First, sometimes we’re too close to the situation. In the case of my son, I simply don’t have the ability to act rationally. And it happens in offices too. Maybe you’re dating your boss or your employee, or they’re a sibling, or they’re you’re best friend. But there are a million reasons why we can’t be objective about things. It reminds me of the roommate theory.

I have a theory about people you can live with and people you can’t, and the theory goes like this. You can live with a stranger. They’re a stranger. You have no expectations. If there are expectations it’s that they’ll be into weird kinky things and they’ll eat borscht at 3am and they’ll drink out of the milk carton and they’ll only wear underwear when it rains. You can live with a stranger. Or you can live with your best friend. You can live with your best friend because you KNOW they’ll be into weird kinky things and they’ll eat borscht at 3am and they’ll drink out of the milk carton and they’ll only wear underwear when it rains. They’re your best friend despite, or maybe because of, all that crazy stuff. But you can’t live with someone that you’re sort of friends with even if they’re into weird kinky things and they eat borscht at 3am and they drink out of the milk carton and they only wear underwear when it rains. How does that work?

We’re incredible subjective when it comes to what we expect from people. We can have the same behavior from three different people with three totally different reactions. It’s unfair, which is the second part of this whole scenario. People are not fair. We’re not. We let things slide when we shouldn’t, we’re overly dramatic when we don’t need to be and we judge most people by who we think they are and not what we know they’ve done.

So I ask again. Yelling? How’s that working for you? If your answer isn’t, “splendidly” then don’t you think it’s time you tried something new? Something different?