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Hump Day: Pecker

We all have a few "peckers" in our social or work life. Take that term any way you want – it's several meanings probably define the type of person we're about to talk about in this article anyway. Here's how to avoid them and how to avoid being them

I was introduced to some interesting information this week during my marketing class at Rotman. It doesn’t “directly” have anything to do with an MBA, per se, but it made me think of life as a young professional. (Cue the peanut gallery).

Did you know that chickens have a social hierarchy?

Yep! There is a pronounced dominant/submissive divide among egg-laying hens, to the point where submissives exhibit avoidant behaviour (like perching away from dominants or staring down at the ground to avoid being attacked). If you were to separate dominant hens in the hopes of creating a harmonious chicken utopia…the remaining submissives would actually end up dividing into a new arrangement of dominants/submissives – a new class that will continue to peck each other with sharp beaks (the equivalent of stiletto heels).

I’m not moonlighting in poultry psychology. Instead, I may have just described a phenomenon that’s more familiar to you than you’d like to admit. A cannibalistic office full of infighting? A circle of friends plagued by a gossip queen? A family feud full of locked horns?

At the centre of all these types of circumstances is what I have decided to dub a “pecker.” Appropriately so because their nagging, irritating disruptions probably feel like a beak nipping at you incessantly. This fascinating instigator of sorts may or may not even be conscious of their need to be climbing their way to the top. But don’t be mistaken; the pecker is visible if you keep alert to their maneuvering.

Peckers sniff out water-cooler gossip and have their eyes on your anticipated promotion. They repeat stories you share without comprehension of social ramifications (these stories are also usually hyperbolic compared to the original, I find). Peckers also usually have a distinct ill temperament of not listening to others and standing their ground in spite of logic or reason. Basically, a pecker a person who doesn’t hesitate to position themselves above you in whichever realm you encounter them. 

What’s more dangerous than having a pecker as your cubicle neighbour?

Starting to become one because of the influences around you.

As young professionals we often have to fight the fight to achieve our lofty goals, to live the glorious ways we wish to live. Yet sometimes we lose sight of the interrelatedness of our hen house. When that dominant aggressor is removed from our midst (aka. fired or dumped), suddenly we forget what it’s like to be the attacked. How horrid to unknowingly start exhibiting the same lack of compassion as you start pecking apart others around you! 

Though it’s really hard to empathize with peckers and their obnoxious tendencies, this little chicken anecdote made me realize that we have to really maintain awareness of how we permit them to affect us. If the person is making you grind your teeth or divert your eyes to the ground, it’s time to regain your power. Kick that hysterical hen to the curb! What’s the worst that can happen? She kicks you with her 100mm round toe pumps?

But I can bet you’ll feel infinitely better once you limit contact with this character. Yeah, yeah, the dominants try their best to draw attention or rally support for themselves…they’re the most heroic of heroes or the most victimized victims. Regardless of how they portray themselves, at the end of the day, they rely on others to forcefully rise above them. Instead of being stepped on or a manipulated pawn, imagine being that young professional who doesn’t instigate a reputation worthy of a bad Gossip Girl plot line. It’s impossible to be immune to or outright avoid peckers. However, not associating with them or wasting your time will help distinguish your amazing character to help you lay that golden egg instead.

Maya Chendke