Everything I do is so much harder than anything you do (the hero expression)

After a while in a senior position, control freaks begin to deliberately adopt an aura around them that everything they do is really hard. This aura, as with many things control freaks do, is developed both by how they talk and their facial expressions.

On the facial side, they wear a pained expression at opportune moments to give the impression of a being in the midst of a serious battle. Never enough to suggest they are actually losing but always enough to suggest that loss is a real possibility and they are taking a genuine risk. The implication of this expression, and the impact they are aiming for, is that they are mightily brave and a hero for taking this on. The reaction they are after is one of awe at their bravery, sympathy for their struggle and rejoicing at their victory. In short, an epic.

After a while they get so used to adopting this expression that they do it even for mundane things like making the coffee. For special occasions they feign an affliction such as a bad leg and then show just how determined they are by pushing through.

It’s from this overuse of the hero expression that we get ridiculous reactions from underlings like congratulating the CF for climbing the stairs or thanking them profusely for doing something trivial that everyone manages to do ten times a day without comment, like making the coffee. That’s partly because they’ve conditioned people to think that everything they do is heroic and partly because people are so grateful they’ve taken the time off from being heroic to be generous and make the coffee. A win win situation really!

The first mistake you can make in this scenario is trying to understand just what it is that is so hard in what the CF is doing. There is simply no way they are going to tell you and you can majorly irritate them just by asking, especially if you miss the “keep out of my business” clues and keep up the questions.

The expected behaviour of sycophants in this scenario is to talk about the struggle but never the subject of the struggle. Worship the hero not the deed. Until it’s finished of course, which is when the deed is all that we talk about because that is now part of the mythology of the hero. And because when it’s finished, nobody can easily assess just how hard it was to do as the evidence is quickly lost, so it’s now safe to talk about.

The second mistake that you can make, and a serious one at that is offer to help with the task at hand. This implies firstly that you might understand what it is the CF is working on, which is obviously impossible, and secondly that you might actually be able to do it, which is frankly insulting. The only worse thing you could do is offer to help in front of others. That will earn you lifelong hostility.

Offering to help with something else is alway good at this time. The best way to do it is to offer to take on something trivial the CF has on their plate but make it sound like you will struggle to do it, adding to the ego boost.

And whatever you do, when you see the finished product don’t say out loud “Well what was so hard about that?”.

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