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Lighthouse - November, 2019.


In her song ‘Wind beneath my Wings’ internationally acclaimed songstress and actress Bette Midler ended by singing: –
‘Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
Ever popular, for many this song has become even more relevant today because there is a growing reluctance to give praise to others. Social media and the ever-growing stresses of modern life have instilled in many a desire to be noticed both in our workplace, society in general and even in our homes. It is true that many of us feel adequate and get satisfaction just going about our usual daily lives enjoying the occasional acknowledgment and smile. However, a growing number now feel a need to be recognised as individuals who are demonstrably unique from others. Unfortunately, in some this has become a passion to compensate for their lack of perceived skills. Their need to be recognised makes them succumb to the temptation of being a ‘trasher’. Finding that their talents and position doesn’t provide a sufficient platform for their aspirations, they take an easy option of trashing others. The idea to them, of praising anyone, undermines their own sense of importance. In their minds, making others feel insecure, heightens their own self-righteousness. Often, they become so skilful at doing this; it is not easy to recognise their almost stealth like activities. They rely on the fact that no matter who you are or even how nice you are, some people will not like you! So, when we hear that someone has ‘trashed’ us we just generally shrug it off and live with it. Unfortunately doing this often encourages those doing the ‘bad-mouthing’ to escalate their attacks. This increased activity may even make people we thought were friends turn against us. Unhappy people, who gain their kicks by trashing others, may join together so as they enjoy talking rudely about everyone else. By this stage malicious gossiping takes on an impetus all of its own.

So, what do we do about it?
Importantly you first need to recognise that you are being ‘trashed’. This is not always easy because trashers are often subtle in the way they build their sphere of influence. They usually act furtively in growing their empire as it gives credibility to their self-perceived uniqueness. This acts as compensation for their inadequacies. If they are found out their treasured trashing realm collapses.

You are being trashed if you are able to identify that someone is making harmful statements about you and that these may result in damaging your reputation and friendships. Workplace criticism, inappropriately conveyed to others, especially as ‘tittle tattle’, is a particularly hurtful form of trashing. It also breaks down team relationships and undermines group confidence. The truth of any statements is not theissue because the trasher, from their perspective, believes them to be true. Of course, an issue arises as to when such activities become slander, but that’s another matter. Frequently a trasher is a rather sad person, underneath their bluster, as it implies, they have nothing better to do. Deriving pleasure from trashing someone is believed to generate negative gratification which subconsciously saps creativity and vitality. It’s a way of getting sympathy and attention. If trash talk persuades some friends to desert you then you’re better off, as they were only tenuously your friend in the first place. They are in negative territory by allowing their lives to be influenced by rubbishing chatter.

But being trashed really does hurt, especially when it’s a good friend who has to clue you in that it is happening. However, one thing you must not do is to give in to a desire to defend yourself, especially when angry about it. Such a response plays into the hands of the trasher, who wants to feel more powerful than you. Over the years, experience has shown that the better way is to treat the trasher with light-hearted contempt by being friendly but, at the same time, nonchalantly smiling in their faces.

It turns out that those who recognise a need to cope with trashing activities often keep a ‘private’ list, about their workplace and social media – ‘a people who annoy them’ list. We all know such people, don’t we? Well checking it and amending it, every so often, makes us assess if we are also guilty of subtle trashing without realising it. Office and social media gossip is so much fun, isn’t it? Invariably we like to be first with the news.

We all have different talents and skills that are unique. Those who value a team spirit know that by pulling together, more may be achieved. Often, we fail to acknowledge this around us, thus providing fertile ground for trashers. Just like Bette Midler sings, by letting others know that they help you soar to greater heights, because ‘They are the wind beneath your wings’, quickly puts paid to trashers. We may all benefit by finding the time to ask our friends and colleagues, ‘Did you ever know that you’re my hero?’

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