The Utter Misery and Horribleness of Hurt Feelings

Screenshot 2019-07-09 at 22.56.36“Look at that beast!”,  guffawed  a personal trainer across the gym floor as he strode past the rowing machines and bikes while pointing at me.  I plodded over, heavily, my New Year’s eve hangover still  echoing around my head two days after the the year had begun.
“What the heck is that?” He gleefully pointed at my belly and laughed again. I had over-indulged  at Christmas it was undeniable. Familiar gym faces on running machines nodded smugly and sweatily in agreement .
Josh, is a 20-something surfer dude from Cornwall and has no idea of the tribulations involved in trying to stay fit enough to do your own shoe laces as life gets properly long. And now he was mocking me. My own personal trainer. I pay for this abuse!
I was going to tell him about this book on emotions and how the truth is I might respond better to a quiet and supportive chat about “calories in” versus “calories out” ,  preferably over a large cappuccino. The first problem was I hadn’t read the book  and the second problem was he’d directed me onto a treadmill and was turning the button toward lightspeed.
After an hour of not giving a damn about my emotions the session was over and I felt euphoric and clinically dead.
In the changing rooms my zombie state was interrupted  by a text message from the editor of this magazine :  “Where’s the massively *****overdue book review you unreliable,  **** lazy ***** . Happy new year “
“I’m not sure that’s an emotionally sensible way to get the best out of your writers. Duh! Where’s my psychological safety, you ****” I wrote back and turned the phone off.
When I wrote for my first Sunday newspaper I got sacked after a couple of months for not getting any scoops. During my notice period I got scoop after scoop and saved my job. No amount of emotional sensitivity would have got me into gear like getting sacked. But this is mere anecdote.
As I waited for my legs to uncramp I wondered about the emotions at really successful organisations. When Manchester United were underperforming  Sir Alex Ferguson would unleash the halftime hairdryer at players. The hairdryer was a hurricane of shouting and abuse of such force that it terrified even multimillionaire teenagers. It was described as putting your face in front of a BaByliss Turbo Power 2200. Horrible but effective.
Come to think of it there seems to be a correlation between the disagreeableness of legendary leaders and their success. Steve Jobs was famous for his prickliness, Bill Gates threw tantrums, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer threw chairs, Andy Grove of Intel was so fierce that a subordinate fainted during a performance review, Anna Wintour of Vogue is said to direct “Nuclear Wintour” at out of favour staff, and Jeff Bezos, is known for going into rages that his Amazon colleagues call” Nutters”.  Bezos’ notable put downs include: “I’m sorry, did I forget to take my stupid pills today?”, “If I hear that idea again I’m gonna have to kill myself” and the straightforward “Why are you wasting my life?”.
Bezos is said to abhor “social cohesion”, the natural impulse to seek consensus. According to a gazillion studies, friction and discomfort generates creativity and innovation where consensus creates mere mediocrity.
In any event, I made it back to my sofa before I became fully immobile, a post-workout condition which, it turns out, is ideal  for speed-reading a book while being menaced by a despairing magazine editor.
“No Hard Feelings” is less concerned with how to be the next Bezos or Wintour and more about how to manage your emotions if he or she is your boss and your experience is of rather “safer spaces”.
If that’s you then you’ll love this book. If it’s not then some of the advice might grate. Much of the counsel is I suspect next level-marmite in its binary appeal. For example here are two suggestions which will  be simply adored by some and eye-rolled by others: “Save kind or funny notes in a folder you can revisit when work gets tough” or claim some work-time sovereignty  by “grabbing a few coworkers and heading to the cute coffeeshop on the corner for a quick break”.
My advice to you as a potential book buyer is audit your emotional response to such advice and act accordingly.
“By the time you finish this book,’ promise the two authors, “you’ll understand whyyou might feel something and you’ll know what to do with that feeling”.
Which is true. The next time I went to the gym and the smug marathon runners on the treadmill smirked at me I exhaled like an emotional zen master (because it was okay to feel hurt) and then I rammed the dials on their machine to max and then reader, I felt much better.


I read: No Hard Feelings

by: Liz Fosslien and Mollie West Duffy