Every human being has a picture of the core of his being. This core, however, is not always to be “seen”, or not in its entirety. People play certain roles that make social life easier because of the rules that are linked to the respective roles. We can experience how significant these roles are when we, as adults, visit our parents and still come across the expectation that as a daughter or a son we should accept parental advice without protest. Other roles include that of a friend, husband or wife, student or teacher.
We also play different roles in daily business: employee, supervisor and colleague. The way we play those roles depends on the social rules in our environment and on the organisational or departmental rules. On the other hand, we are ourselves responsible for the way we play the role.
Our core personality (we call it the “blue guy”) sounds through (Latin: personare) all our roles. When I get in contact with other people playing my roles – the "red guy" – I should take care not to hurt the blue guy of the other persons involved, because:
"Human dignity shall be inviolable." (Article 1 of the “Grundgesetz”, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany)
What can I do if my core personality is attacked? Firstly, I should check that the other person did not address me in my role. My supervisor may not be satisfied with my work or with me as a co-worker, but he does not mean me as a person. If, after thinking it over, I still have the impression that the other person was trying to hit my core, I have to reject this idea immediately.
"Collecting trading stamps”
If we are not able or willing to react immediately to the violation of our “blue guy”, we tend to stick a “trading stamp” into our booklet (a kind of an emotional account). Once the booklet is full, we will initiate a payback in a way that is completely inappropriate for the situation and the initiator. Emotional energy is not lost.
The "dead man reflex” invites the others to continue to attack my personality.
If we are hit and continue to act as if nothing has happened, we make a new “contract”: The others have learned that they are allowed to treat you that way. In most cases, the “doses” of hurtful behaviour will then be increased. These processes often start with little side remarks, interruptions and jokes, and can end up with seriously disrupted relationships.