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“It is in the nature of beasts to threaten the weak and fear the strong” Nichiren Daishonin.

I know of a man who struts through life as a regal Peacock full of seeming superiority whilst at the same time showing a marked outward display of anger to those who he comes into contact with. Many are concerned when they have a need to talk to this person as the response is often vague and perceptibly unhelpful. Strangely there’s a lot of affirmative language that sounds positive when conversing with this person but the body language and actions are decidedly negative. The communication which comes not just from the actual verbal language used but also from body language and voice tone seem to present a contradiction in the message being conveyed.

This negativity can be particularly pronounced when this person is under pressure to deliver on a work action. In the process of communication at meetings if an update is asked for the response can be dismissive which to me suggest either that the knowledge is unknown by him or below him to express. The air of superiority therefore comes to the fore.

This person has long held out the gauntleted challenge to either get angry in turn when communicating with him or to understand the finer detail of his psyche. I elected to get to know the person more deeply as experience has taught me that people react in certain ways due to reasons sometimes not even known to them at the conscious level.

Without going into too much detail I found out recently that this person had a trauma in early life resulting from the untimely loss of a parent which had left him decidedly emotionally disadvantaged. Knowing what amounts to a reason for his outward behavior of sorts presented me with some power to empathize and understand.

So having knowledge of this person the next time he expressed anger at what most would feel was rather a trivial matter on a simple question regarding the completion of a task I was prepared with a response. I had read about the escalation of conflict where any given situation has the potential to ratchet up notch by notch until both parties boil over with rage and despair. So rather than reacting to this person with the same level or with even greater anger I calmed my tone. I quietly explained, without trying to seem condescending, that he was turning a wisp of air into a hurricane and that this need not happen. As his tone got louder and more aggressive my tone by design lowered and the language became more reasoned. It worked and I could see that he appreciated my consideration.

Then the penny dropped and I understood a little, that people who too readily express anger do sometimes have hidden within their psyche a trauma which manifests from a deep sense of personal anxiety. This anxiety is compensated for by outward signals of superiority. The sense of inferiority hidden deeply within the subconscious mind of these individuals renders them completely unaware of the relationship between their anger and this deep anxiety and this is why they are also prone to criticizing the weaknesses in others. They “threaten the weak and fear the strong” and this can sometimes be seen as bullying.

There’s nothing stranger than folk but it’s well worth attempting anyway to look under the thin veneer of anger that some anxious individuals outwardly express.