Athol Kay writes:
Most interpersonal conflict arises from attempts to maintain threatened dominance and/or evade being in a submissive position. When I started “breaking free” at work, I got into “trouble” several times with my superiors. Once it became apparent I wasn’t going to be contained, and in fact was becoming someone that could bump back on them rather firmly, they backed off and were much nicer.
I was thinking about that while watching this scene from Margin Call, a movie with a fair number of high-dominance males. For those of you who haven’t seen it (and it’s a great movie, btw), it concerns the 2008 decision by “the firm” (i.e., Goldman Sachs) to dump it’s worthless MBS portfolio on unsuspecting investors. The head of trading Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) has objected to this, and Sam’s boss Jared Cohen (Simon Baker) is shown here telling Sam’s subordinate Will Emerson (Paul Bettany) that he may have to take over if Sam doesn’t “step up”. Watch as Will pushes back:
Basically, Will is two levels down from Jared in the firm’s hierarchy, yet he effectively resists Jared’s dominance.
Personally, I don’t really have a problem taking the submissive role with duly-constituted, formal authority. I do, however, resist dominance by titular peers.
The problem is . . . I never manage that resistance in socially constructive (for me) ways. I never arrive at the place where my unwillingness to be dominated gets me better treatment. What usually happens is that I wind up being a social pariah.