One reality prevails without question: our daily lives are characterized by a plethora of human interaction. Whether it is for business, pleasure, family, or some religious activity, our lives will seldom have meaning without INTER-action. This almost unavoidable social assignment isn’t always pleasant (to say the least). How then can we get through our day; socialize with people of different demeanors and succeed at it?
This article will expose a technique that aims at unraveling basic intricacies of emotional intelligence.
We will start by defining basic terms that make up the principle.
Copy Cat: a Copy Cat is someone who copies another person’s behavior.
Demeanor: this simply means an outward behavior or bearing.
The Demeanor Copy Cat Principle explains human actions that copy patterns of behavior (especially negative) from another person or group of persons, particularly in situations of confrontation.
‘Calm’ James usually rides the bus to work every day. On a fateful Monday morning ride to work, ‘Rudy’ Bill steps on James’ neatly polished shoes on his way to find a seat on the bus, after the bus stopped to pick him up at a bus terminal. James looked up at Bill, expecting him to tender an apology for his action (at least). But to his surprise and disgust, Bill ignored him and continued the journey to his seat like nothing had happened.
‘Calm’ out the Window
Bill is a very rude man, who doesn’t care if he steps on toes or causes pain and discomfort to others. So stepping on James without been remorseful is his natural way of responding to situations (which isn’t near ideal). This personality trait that Bill oozes can be somewhat contagious to the unsuspecting and today was James’ turn to experience disconsolation from an emotional ticking bomb (Bill). Rancor and pandemonium soon broke out in the bus as James stopped Bill halfway to his seat, to bring to his attention what he had done. But Bill wasn’t having any of it. Bill is used to this kind of confrontation, in fact, he lives for this. But here is an unfortunate gentleman (James), who is seconds away from having a kind of day he never thought possible when we woke earlier in the morning, and as a result, losing his ‘calm’ status. Bill maliciously shrugged off James’ firm grip and let loose his arsenal of curse words on him. James wasted no time in silence as he returned the favor to Bill. Before long, the two men engaged in a bit of fisticuff in a bus filled to capacity with commuters, something James would never do had conditions been kinder. But now, it was certain that James (who is no longer calm) would go to work late that day (maybe worse).
WHAT COULD HAVE HAPPENED DIFFERENTLY?
It has already been established that Bill’s irritating demeanor incites conflict, and lures the unsuspecting to his many emotional triggers. Let’s break down this emotional journey that translated James from Jolly Good Fellow, to Fighter:
HIS REACTION: when Bill stepped on James’ shoes in the bus, his emotional receptors kicked in immediately, and trust me, this is perfectly normal. As human beings, we are emotional creatures, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about that part of our nature. The challenge, however, emanates from how we respond to situations: I like to call this The Second Response. The first response always originates from an emotional stance, more or less stimuli based or instinctive. This was James’ momentary curse. His Second Response however (which is the most important of all), should have sprung from a place of intellect and reason. To respond from a place of intellect and reason, certain questions must be asked: “Why”, “How”, and “When”.
- “Why did this young man step on me? Could it be that he simply did not see my legs in the way, or he is just a trouble seeker out on a rampage?”
- “How should I respond to this situation in such a way, as will maintain my peace, dignity and sanity?”
- “When should I take to flight, should this situation become confrontational?”
If James had taken a few seconds to ask and answer these questions within him, this is how the events could have played out:
Bill would step on his shoes provocatively, James would call his attention (maybe with a lighter grip or a tap), after which Bill will get prepared to latch on to the opportunity presented to display his not so sought after talents of wanton offence. But Bill would meet with a rather terrible disappointment, as James will intentionally refuse to copy his demeanor but act from a place of intelligence.
Exceptions to the Principle
The Demeanor Copy Cat Principle does not encourage timidity. It is an irritation to indulge in excessive pride. But it is a crime to oneself to be too humble, to the point that people are permitted to ride over you at a whim. The principle only teaches that we stand our ground, but not to the extent of mirroring negative traits from villains.
To be realistic, this principle is not a universal rule book that applies to the over 7 billion people that roam God’s green earth, far from it. For you will soon find out that some people are just difficult, for no just cause. They don’t subscribe to reason even if the Lord himself were to appear to them. For this bunch, you might need to take your stance more solidly, or be bullied into a demoralizing submission.
Not every confrontation to which this principle is applied will result in success. But it proves to be a dependable template for emotional intelligence. It proves (even) crucial in this period of compulsory restrictions to movement, as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic that may have us marooned with family members. With this principle, you may yet ignite some understanding with your kin. I hope above everything else that you can experience some change in your demeanor, no matter how little it may be.
- A Business and Personal Development Coach, with over ten years of experience