Recently in my last contract role I was laughing with a group of colleagues about the nature of the childrens book that Im currently writing and whether I was drawing upon people and characters around me to invent my story and as a way to outline personality in the book.
Well in truth, when writing, one always tends to draw upon what we know, look back to situations and experiences that we have been involved in or observed, so we can’t help but instill some sense of those characters in to those that are jumping up from the page. In the course of the conversation I mentioned that one of my characters was a duck that never stopped quacking, as he was a resonant character to me in the corporate world, a merge of multiple people I had sat cross boardroom tables from or in meetings, workshops or other interactions. There are multiple personas of course that we see in everyday life around us. I have often found that by stepping back in certain situations and looking at the situation in the third person, it not only desensitises it to me, but also allows me to see the reality of what is actually happening in front of me. In NLP we use reframing techniques to transform negative images and replace them with positive powerful ones and by creating characters in my head, Im able to prevent myself from feeling so personally involved or even sometimes targeted because I happen to be the person in that specific moment that is on the receiving end.
So who is the Duck that never stops quacking then? Do you know him/ or her in your workplace? would you recognise them? Here is my interpretation, for what its worth…….
The duck that never stops quacking is someone who typically likes the sounds of their own voice. Lets call him Doug for the purposes of this exercise. Doug has an ego the size of a planet, the one strutting about telling everyone what is what, who is who and usually pulls rank and tells everyone how important he is. Doug shuts down suggestions in meetings - his idea is always better, or on the few occasions he does let others share their ideas, he believes he is being collaborative, but in actual fact always ends up enforcing his view and approach as the outcome, thus dismissing those other ideas that may have been surfaced and may also in fact have been better or more relevant to the situation or solution being discussed.
This is a proud duck. He waggles his tail and makes everyone aware of his presence the moment he waddles in to the room. Doug puts out the impression that he’s a great leader, knows his stuff and doesn’t everyone know how important he is? The underlying truth with Doug though is that in fact he’s deeply insecure and that’s really the crux of why he’s so noisy and quacky. He believes, from deep subconscious belief, (probably set about the age of 5) that he needed to assert himself and this was most effective for him by making lots of noise, quacking a great deal about stuff so that others around him wouldn’t guess that in fact he was a) insecure b) full of self doubt c) wondering how on earth he ended up in this role d) surely everyone likes him e) if he fluffed up his feathers and pretended he knew what was what then no one would see the cracks! f) anything that goes wrong is nothing to do with him (he passes blame often or dodges it by quacking that its everyone else fault! His feathers really are teflon coated!)
And in time he has practised this approach so intensely that even he has come to believe his own quack story!
So, Doug for a long time has found that as long as he maintains this facade and keeps driving things his way always quacking the loudest, then people will always stop and listen to him and do what he instructs, which of course only worsens the ego situation. However what he hasn't realised is that it also increases the likelihood in actuality of the other ducks around him tolerating it to a point, and then when he’s so busy quacking to himself, the rest of the flock quietly wander off to find a more interesting worm to grub up, and some peace and quiet, muttering to themselves how boring, stupid and arrogant he is and what a lot of tosh he’s quacking, but of course always giving the impression to Doug that they were of course listening to him.
You see Doug doesn’t understand that LISTEN and SILENT are in fact made up of the same letters for a reason and that in fact if you utilise this tool, not only can it reveal great insights by listening to others and engaging their ideas (we all have two ears and one beak for a reason!) but actually, if you are deeply insecure like Doug, then its one of the best ways to learn, lead and in fact make better decisions, and not get caught out by lack of information and knowledge that can be drawn from the immense experience of the flock around you.
Doug is a duck that needs to learn to snap his beak shut for a while and use his ears more. What he hasn’t realised is that sometimes and often invariably, the loudest quack draws attention to the nearby waiting fox, and if you don’t have your flock with you then you might get singled out and most likely get eaten!!