Have you ever lived with, or worked for, an Emotional Terrorist?
I call those people “Incredible Hulks” because their mantra for keeping peace in their lives is to terrorize your with this reminder: “Don’t make me angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”
Those Incredible Hulks move throughout their lives by threatening you
with an explosion if you don’t behave as they expect.
You also never know what will set off their terrorist fury.
The Hulks will not tell you what sets them off because they want to
reserve any and all conditions as igniters for their mega-explosions.
If you are forced to deal with a Hulk — where every move you make is
criticized and analyzed as an opportunity for their emotional,
volcanic, eruptions — how can you best stay out of their lava flow if
sparked and it is ever possible to avoid being a trigger mechanism for
I think it’s tremendous insecurity that causes the “emotional terrorists” to behave the way they do. Moreover, it’s always something “perceived” and “self imposed” – perceived slight, perceived threatening, self imposed competitions – etc. And it is always “conditional”. You can’t do much with these people unless they willingly change themselves.
They are insecure, at the same time – controlling. I had a “boss” like this once. My life was a complete “hell”. All I did was to figure out the “exit route” on company’s time. At first I thought things were not working with me, then I saw what happened to my other colleagues – everybody left, so did I.
I couldn’t do much, because it was a “power” situation. Moreover, why waste your energy on something that isn’t going to change?
I am not sure what I would do with a person like this in my personal life because I don’t have any experience (lucky me!). But I know a few friends of mine who do…
Thanks for sharing your experience on this important topic!
The reason the volcanic personalities explode and threaten like that is because it works for them! Can you imagine finding pleasure and success by that kind of threatening and intimidation?
I do not understand why a company would find value in that sort of personality.
I think if this is one of my immediate bosses it will be hard for me to take it to the upper management; as a tiny cog in the wheel – it is very difficult to get your voice heard.
People tend to see the bigger picture, as long as the department/organization is working – no one wants to rock the boat.
Some organizations concentrate on the end result only and some do not have the option to get rid of these people.
People do find pleasure by threatening and intimidating others – even achieve success. I have seen it.
Well said and well-reasoned, Katha, thank you!
You are welcome David!
You are right about “great leadears” – they do not need to threaten or intimidate.
I remember a quotation I read somewhere –
“Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted”.
It depends who is satisfied by what.
Love that quote, Katha. Do you know who said it and in what context?
I remember reading it in an article either in HBR or something similar – forgot where but I searched and found out it is by Arthur Friedman:
As soon as the hulk image loaded, you hooked me! Great post
Love the detail for the quote, Katha, thanks!
Thank you, sir!
Great to have you with us! 😀
Emotional terrorist only works in the short term, but usually fails. People end up playing the CYA game, instead of thinking of ways to innovate. They spend their time trying to prevent an unpleasant outburst instead of figuring out ways to work toward fulfilling their main work mission.
CYA is such a terrible term in business because it means someone is saving their own hide while exposing the company’s backside!