7 Small Acts of Defiance

Small acts of defiance, like the murder of a watch, build an oasis of control.

My smart watch died a quiet death on the table by my bed. It hasn’t buzzed or beeped in weeks. I didn’t shed a tear because I killed it. It’s not broken. If I charged it, it would revive. I leave its lifeless form in plain view because its death comforts me.

I admire the carcass every morning. Before bed I place the mechanical watch that replaced it on the same nightstand to affirm its death. My current watch leaves me alone because it has a low IQ.

Defiance assert your control when you feel pushed around.

Small acts of defiance assert your control. Image of a leaf pushing against a metal fence.

Self-defeating acts of defiance:

  1. Foot-dragging when the boss is pushy.
  2. Calling in sick to help them appreciate you.
  3. Gossiping when someone outshines you.
  4. Stealing office supplies after a disappointing performance review.
  5. Assigning lousy work to an employee you don’t like.

Powerful people don’t need small acts of defiance.

Build an oasis of control. Image of an oasis in the desert.

Taking control:

My small acts of defiance go beyond killing watches. I haven’t trimmed my beard since last October. I tend the fire because I refuse to buy heating oil that costs more than the engagement ring I gave my wife. I’m fighting for control because I feel pushed around.

You need not-doing in their life, especially when you feel pressure to conform.

7 small acts of defiance:

  1. Not booking meetings back-to-back.
  2. Eating dinner with your family when you could be working.
  3. Scheduling email time, instead of responding immediately.
  4. Eating lunch.
  5. Walking for 10 minutes in the afternoon.
  6. Scheduling focus time and closing your office door.
  7. Changing 60-minute meetings to 50 minutes.

I wouldn’t need defiance if I felt powerful, but until I do, I’m leaving my dead watch in plain view.

What small acts of defiance do you use?

Still curious:

3 Tips to Build Confidence in Timid Team Members

10 Ways to Make People Feel Powerful

How to Manage a Stubborn, Defensive, or Defiant Employee (hbr.org)