- When a student does not complete a homework assignment, the teacher may assume the student is irresponsible, lazy, or was busy playing video games.
- When a teacher misses a department or school meeting repeatedly, the teacher-leader may assume the teacher does not place a priority on the meeting or sees tardiness as an attempt to undermine authority.
- When colleagues do not enforce school rules, such as enforcing dress code violations, a teacher may assume he or she is the only one conscientious and brave enough to take action.
When others violate our expectations, it is easy to make up stories explaining behavior. When emotions, especially anger are involved, the portion of the brain that is logical ceases to function. The lower part of our personality takes over and we may:
- verbally attack the offender;
- if possible, punish the other person;
- throw a tantrum;
- taunt, tease, insult, or use sarcasm; and/or
- spread the story behind the offender’s back.
Stunned by the violent outburst, the original offender wonders what prompted such a strong reaction. The cycle continues as he creates his own story about this.
I am reading Crucial Accountability by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, and Switzler. More on how to break this cycle, based on Crucial Accountability in the next post.