Thursday, 13 December 2012
The oblique approach
While chaffinches, reed buntings, starlings and blackbirds all fed apparently without first sizing up the competition, the magpie (at least 4 times the size of most of them), eyed them, and then the food, before making a series of sideways lunges at its chosen morsel.
Its ungainly awkward hop seemed designed to attract twice the attention any of the others might, and yet, when one of them turned towards the same bit of food, the magpie was suddenly aggressive and on the attack.
This reminded me quite suddenly of a conversation I was having last evening at my Icon painting class, about a person known to us both who was making life very difficult for someone else, with a series of similarly side-long or oblique attacks on their way of working. This method, we both agreed, was not a desirable or even a particularly honourable way of pointing out another person's deficiencies.
This in turn, provoked a lengthy debate on what is, or ought to be, the right way to 'correct' the modus operandi of a subordinate. We both agreed that a direct, but diplomatic and preferably fairly gentle approach was likely to produce the best results.
It is easy to offend someone who is not self-confident, and even easier to undermine them in the eyes of their peers, and oblique 'Chinese whispers' are even worse than an out and out attack.
Sadly it is not only magpies which have a cruel streak.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:36:00 p.m.