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The mosquito

Something was really bugging me… I’d had enough! I was speaking to a large group of 50+ people at a client when I finished up my speech with a message for a particular insect that had been buzzing around my head, distracting me with its incessant need to extract little drops of blood. They’d been complaining about anything they could find as if to try to ‘coach‘ me into submission. I needed a way to draw them out into the open, and this was it…

I said to the group: “If you ever have feedback for me or my team, please feel free to engage us either directly, or you can always send in a suggestion. We’ve got a suggestion box at companyname.com/improveit that nobody has ever used. Try it sometime! We’re all ears to your feedback,” but I wasn’t done yet….

“Now, I know there are some folks who seem to disagree with very minor things that are creating seemingly endless detours on the road to the meaning or getting things done. If you find yourself complaining about another person all of the time, find out why you’re acting like a MOSQUITO!”

Immediately following the talk, a person who I was familiar with being a complete pain in the ass walked up to me looking irritated and making a low-level but discernable buzzing sound as they approached. They said, “buzzzzzzzzzz I thought it was rude what you said in the meeting buzzzzzzzzz” to which I replied, oh! Are YOU the mosquito?” and then suddenly, the buzzing stopped.

Did they realize what they were doing all of this time? What motivates these kinds of actions? It wasn’t the first or the last time that I’d face the mosquito. I needed to dig deeper and understand why this was so frustrating and why it had come to this crossroads. Why do these people like to hyper-focus on others, harassing them with ‘feedback’ by proxy? This wasn’t any ordinary feedback, though, and to understand why you need to go deep into the mind of the bug.

This wasn’t my first bug bite. I had run into this before, but I didn’t fully understand the source, it’s intentions, or have the wits about me to quickly fight back and defend myself against these attacks. What kind of attacks? Well, imagine for a moment that somebody doesn’t ‘like you’ at work whatever that means to them. They may or may not possess the necessary power to do anything about it. That’s the key; they simultaneously resent you without the ability to take any action against you, so they launch a tirade of complaints about anything they can conjure up, no matter how trivial, or unimportant it is to the mission. i.e., You do all of your work, get the job done, people love you, the company is better as a result, but you forgot to use a comma, or hold a door for some fragile being.

This particular mosquito happened to be a computer user and a very ignorant, impatient, ineffective one. They’d grow frustrated over just about anything. Did it take 5 minutes to do Windows updates? Angry. Don’t know how to print to PDF? Incensed. Many of the interactions with them quickly turned into a dark, depressed, deflated phone call where they’d ask for help seemingly already defeated. They’d complain about their company, the computers, having to use one, and continuously reminded that they are not in “IT” when we’d ask them to learn or do basic stuff. The bottom line was this person showed every symptom of being an idiot who couldn’t use a computer. There… I said it. They’d drag you into an unhappy hole over just about anything that came up. Why? Because they NEVER knew what to do next, even with succinct instructions, largely due to taking so many detours to attack people on the road to finding meaning.

The mosquito needs to find a willing ‘host’ who they can use to transmit the ‘bites.’ This is usually an unsuspecting manager who’ll initiate ‘conflict resolution‘ on a whim. They take the bugs word for it, throwing this shade directly at you, leaving you thinking, what the hell is going on here? Why? Well, they’d bite you directly, but this is part of the personality of this bug. It salivates at the thought of having somebody else ‘tell you what to do‘ in this way. They get to package up the complaint, load it on the host, and get confirmation that it detonated on the target, drawing a few drops of blood to cleanse its thirsty palate. Mission accomplished!

I’ll give you a few examples:

During an inbound call with the bug, they brought up a conversation about Help Desks, so to kill time, I entertained them a bit while we were waiting for something on the computer to finish. I said of my employer that “we’re proud to offer an ‘unlimited‘ service to our customers instead of billing by the hour, so don’t worry about calling. We’re here to help! I think this put’s us in a position to keep things working well because if more users call, we’re less profitable. It’s in our best interest to make sure they have everything they need, respond quickly, and keep everyone happy 24×7.”

The bug immediately went to a manager to deliver a bite. The complaint? I said that “Helpdesks weren’t profitable” during the phone call, where I reportedly expressed my disgust for this career choice to this insect. I was, of course, putting everything on the line to vent this to an idiot who can barely find the perseverance to use a computer in ways that hadn’t changed for a decade. The Manager not understanding the vital role they play in this conflict resolution abuse continued to deliver these kinds of messages, one after another. This was no misunderstanding; it was a calculated ‘two-face‘ attack by somebody who despised me for having all the answers. They hated that they needed my help, a young man with a strong intuition that figured things out on the fly, and I would continue to see this cowardly, behind-the-back, type of behavior throughout my career.

These bugs will twist your words, take them out of context, try to get you fired, and complain about you in every way they possibly can. One time I accidentally signed an email with an extra character in my name. They immediately protested that they were “concerned I was not paying attention.” In another attack, I had written many instructional documents for the company. The bug went to a resource from within the company to complain that “they were concerned that some grammatical errors existed in my document,” and I should now run every email and document by this person who worked for the client before publishing anything as this made them uncomfortable. They were relentless in criticizing me at every turn, no matter how petty the complaint or concern. Guess who never followed any of those documents, or could recall any of the content? Buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz lightyear! I know because, for years, they would refuse to follow our core document on how to engage support, instead opting to regularly email me directly despite me directly telling them to stop dozens of times. This bug needed me, ignored me, and hated me for it all at the same time.

Ironically, when they left the company, they wanted to say goodbye to me and leave ways to stay in touch. Talk about a psychology class!

Facts about Bugs:

  1. Bugs typically leave a nest and fly around often because they’re generally unhappy. I had one that always complained about me on a team I was leading to all levels of the company. This person went on to have three more jobs in less than three years, continually moving around to different companies. It takes them a while to figure out that “Everybody else is not the problem.”
  2. Bugs never fly directly at your face, they need to bite you where you won’t see them landing. It is possible to have a bug that’s also a host because it has the power to buzz around your head. i.e., Bug, who is promoted to Manager, can ‘reverse conflict resolution‘ attack you. This is where they complain to other managers about “what you’re doing” to alienate you and build a basis for the harassment, i.e., “Ugh, Doug has been misspelling things. He did it again yesterday in his 30-page document that was otherwise perfect. I don’t remember anything it said, but I sure do remember that buzzzzzzzzzzzzzz typo!!! Why can’t he be perfect like me.”
  3. Bugs sometimes think they’re “helping” you by launching this harassment campaign. They see themselves as being helpful coaches who are only telling you the “right way to do things.” However, they commonly suck at their jobs, annoy people, and drag your neurochemicals into the red with their lack of enthusiasm during downtime when they don’t have anyone to harass.
  4. Bugs ultimately have some kind of problem with you. It could be that you don’t “pay attention to them,” or they’re intimidated because you can “use a computer,” have some kind of power over them, etc. They resent you for something, maybe next to nothing, but there’s always something.
  5. Bugs are masters of ‘playing stupid,’ usually because they ARE stupid. They see those who are competent at something they can’t understand as a threat.

Ways to ZAP the bug:

  1. You have to work with the Manager (aka the host) to break the parasitic relationship between the two. You must help this manager ‘see’ what’s happening here by framing the discussion correctly. You don’t resent or despise this person; they’re obsessed with being anal-sensitive with everything you do. Be smarter than the bug by applying a thin layer of DEET by reprogramming the Manager to spot these manipulations. i.e., Forget about typos, why this does bug have 70 tickets in one year? Why do they forget the password to log in to the computer once a month? Drag/drop a directory with 100k folders into a random place three times in a year, causing an outage?
  2. It is essential to document every bug bite and bit of shade they throw your way. You’ll eventually be able to lump this all on them at the end. For example, with one bug, I finally gave the Manager a list of 10 things the person had complained about me in the past year. The bug actually responded by saying I had “set them up by gathering a list of these things and waiting” as if somehow I could possibly influence the things they complain about to other people. I was mainly “causing them to be annoyed” with my actions in a plot to expose them for harassing me relentlessly? Genius!
  3. Bugs are typically unaware of their beliefs, attitude, or underlying reason for hating you. They’re obsessed, but the most significant weakness is that they don’t know WHY they do it. If you figure that out, you can squash them once and for all. It could be because you didn’t hold a door, or they think you’re good looking, so you have a better chance of reproducing. Who knows!

Leave me some comments about your bugs. I know other people out there today have had this problem. It’s a form of harassment that knows no boundaries, involves others who don’t understand the intentions, or the big picture. It’s your job to play it smart so they don’t get you fired! Good luck!

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