During my first job as a computer programmer (way back in the late 1970’s) the owner of the small factory where I worked was quite a large and “take charge” sort of man, and had quite the temper. When you crossed or disappointed him in any way, he’d lean forward, turn red in the face and pound his fist on his desk: yelling at you and insulting you.
Everyone in the office would cower behind their desks when this happened: hoping they would not become the next target of his wrath. No one dared tell him “No.” (Except me, although that was largely because I was too naive to realize I should be intimidated. I also didn’t have a mortgage or car payment to worry about!)
What I learned is that once he yelled and screamed for a bit, he’d calm down, and then would listen to what I had to say. He came to respect me because I stood up to him, and told me so. Even though we never became friends, I did respect him; and we accomplished a great deal during my time there.
That ability to stand firm in the face of such anger has served me well in the years since. (Although it has also gotten me fired once or twice, until I learned that doing so works best if you listen carefully past the emotion, to hear what the other is trying to say.)
Now, the politics of consensus and community-building – which are my own default and preferred approach – can lead one to conclude that we should play nice with our new President from day one, as Joan Vennochi advocates in her opinion piece “Democrats, don’t take your ball and go home” in today’s Boston Globe.
Yes, we need to work with DT and his regime. If he were a reasonable man (and nothing he’s said in public leads to that conclusion), I’d agree with Ms. Vennochi’s points. But, he is not that kind of man: his personality is very similar to that long ago boss of mine, and many others I’ve encountered in the years since.