David Mellor, ex cabinet minister, radio personality and Queens Counsel has ended up in the news again because of his behaviour. As is often with these stories they are interesting both because they involve an interesting character but also because these characters offer us insights into our own behaviour and we can learn from them.
As reported in the press Mr Mellor and his partner got into a taxi in London. David formed the opinion that the taxi driver was taking a longer journey than necessary and told the taxi driver so. The driver disagreed. What the driver also did was record David Mellor’s rant at him. The incident was reported in The Herald as follows –
During the audio Mr Mellor, who told the driver to “f*** off”, said he would name him and discuss the incident on his LBC radio show, which he co-presents with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on Saturday mornings.
He also said: “You’ve been driving a cab for 10 years, I’ve been in the Cabinet, I’m an award-winning broadcaster, I’m a Queen’s Counsel. You think that your experiences are anything compared to mine?”
That’s the story. What could be going on behind it?
David Mellor and his partner, VisitEngland chairman Viscountess Penelope Cobham, were on the way to an Investiture ceremony with the Prince of Wales. That’s an important occasion and if I was on the way to an event like that and felt short of time I could start to feel stressed, out of control and want to find a way to take control again. Also if I am not fully self aware and in control of my own feelings I may decide to project the stress I am feeling on to someone else and make it their fault I am feeling out of control.
I am not going to approach this from the “he is an ego maniac” stereotype, easy though that may be. We all have an ego and if we do not take care of it we can let it get out of control. This is about our self esteem. Our self esteem, if not as healthy as it could be, means we do not know our own worth. We need others to appreciate, respect and acknowledge us rather than knowing our own worth.
It can lead us to achieve amazing feats, accomplishments and careers all in the name of proving what we don’t really believe about ourselves. It also means that all the praise, awards and certificates we can accumulate are never enough if, deep down, we don’t really believe what they tell us.
Of course when others don’t acknowledge us, listen to us, or appreciate us we can get very angry. In David Mellor’s way it was expressed as “don’t you know who I am?” type behaviour. He will get criticised for being a snob and that is one way of putting it. My view is that he is insecure and scared of his own position and needs to reinforce it with his anger.
Of course at the start of this is a simple difference of opinion. Taxi driver drives one way and David Mellor thinks he should go another way. It is easy to say this and not always easy to achieve it but “it is ok to have a different opinion.” It’s worth reflecting on how much of what we experience is fact and how much is opinion. Facts are quite rare, opinions are everywhere, including in this blog.
The problem is we often get so attached to our opinion that we start to think it is a fact and then go into battle over it.
So much anger is about hypocrisy as we judge others for character traits we also have but choose to hide, deny or repress. David Mellor accused the driver of going the wrong way. This was either about dishonesty (increasing the fare by going the long way) or incompetence. Has David Mellor never behaved dishonestly? Has he never behaved in such a way as he could be accused of not being fully competent?
The reality of this
There’s a combination of stress (fear), ego (self esteem) hypocrisy and opinion. A heady mix that could drag all of us into the type of confrontation David Mellor had. He is simply being human. Is his behaviour acceptable? No. Is he a healthy role model given the media profile he has? I don’t think so. Could he do something about it? Yes. Will he? Only he can answer that.
I would like to thank him and the taxi driver for bringing this to our attention and giving people like me with the opinions we have a really good reason to express them.