Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Angry Sailor

This is Griff Rys Jones racing his classic boat for the BBC TV series "Three men in another boat". Things didn't go very well, so he did this whole angry sailor act shouting at the crew.

Only it wasn't an act. Griff admitted to flying into a rage, loosing control, not just on this race, but on others, as well on dry land.

And in another program yesterday his examined the subject of anger, how controlled - for example at injustice - it can be a motivator, but uncontrolled it can destroy, literally and emotionally.

I'm sure we've all heard of cases of those with short fuses and those that change from mild mannered Dr Jekyll to raging Mr Hyde when the 5 minute gun goes, though in general I've been very lucky in avoiding such types.

It really doesn't help anyone. When crises hit - like the Square Metre Rule foredeck mess up posted earlier - I just knuckled down and did what ever had to be done, even though was aware that later would feel not so good about it. For me the focus was on the task to hand.

But others like Griff loose it, the pressure of the race getting too much. What was interesting was how he kept put the blame on others saying "he made me angry" rather than accepting the true source of the anger.

There is also the martinet - the type that remains in controls but shouts a lot often with a stream of four letter words. Again very much doubt that is effective: some crew just put up with it but in other cases I've had to negotiate between crew and over driven skipper whose behaviour bordered on the bully.

I remember being woken in my bunk in the early hours of the morning mid Atlantic by a cry of "All hands on deck- all hands on deck, please!". Together with the rest of the crew we scrambled into clothes and safety harness and went out to fix the broken guy, and that last word made a lot of difference.

Whether Captain Bligh was a saint or a sinner even the historians can't decide. But its certainly true there are angry sailors out there and they aren't one of the great sailing inventions.


bonnie said...

One of the reasons I've stayed at the job as long as I have is that I've got that rarest of rare birds - a boss who really almost never yells at me for making mistakes.

I think we've worked together long enough that he's figured out that when I do manage to screw up (which isn't that often), I already pretty much beat up on myself as much as a person can beat up on themself & still function. Adding any more stress is just going to push me on beyond the "still functioning" zone & into "useless wreck".

His attitude tends to be more "OK, so here's what we've got, blowing up isn't going to help. now how do we fix it?"

JP said...

That's sounds like a good boss. When in a mess yelling only makes things worse - as you say the best thing to do is buckle down and find a way out of it.

And I as you beat myself up so much that yelling isn't necessary anyhow!