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Revenge Strategy: Wasting the power of your hate on the guiltless (II): Some Psychological dynamics of revenge


This is a watercolor exercise, for my aquarelles practices.

Before proceeding to name the most famous commercial revenge examples in history, such as trade wars or economic conflicts between corporations, let´s begin to explore the reasons behind revenge. What makes one person decide to take their own sense of justice against another one? What makes another person try to comprehend and extend compassion instead of revenge? Why do we have different reactions in relation to offensive behavior toward us? And in the case of corporate strategy, why do people use businesses to take revenge against others? Why some leaders hurt innocent and harmless people just to test their products or services?. Please remember, that we are writing about corporate strategy issues born with a motive in mind (to take revenge) and what is worst, to hurt blameless people who have nothing to do with the offender. As a reminder for those who have not read my last sagas, corporate strategy is done by the owners or founders of firms, governments, entities or countries. And it is nothing else than defining what to do (what business-product/service) with our company?

Before clarifying the latter questions,  we must visit the psychological roots of our brain function dynamics of anger, revenge and causing harm. I have visited some websites and literature in relation to the theme, to get an overview and their point of views in relation to it.  Nevertheless, one of these references took my attention.

According to experts in Neuroscience and Psychology from the University of Geneva (see link reference below), the superior temporal lobe and the amygdala are associated with the regulation and the relevance of the emotions. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans show brain activation in these areas when feelings of anger, revenge, punishment or justice happen. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), an area located at the front of the brain which is key for the regulation of the emotions, seems to correspond to the degree of vengeance from each of us when we “feel” we have been offended, or when we wish to express solidarity with someone who has been displeased. The researchers suggest a way to diminish the degree of revenge, by increasing activity in the DLPFC through trans-magnetic stimulation. This action could inhibit or even suppress vengeful behavior.

The recent paragraph makes me think: if we identify the DLPFC as the place to regulate our behavior towards revenge, can we discipline this part of the brain to avoid vengeance? How can we do it?  For example, we tend to get even and destroy other businesses for insignificant transgressions.Bugs in a lettuce.png I know of someone who was served a salad, and a lettuce worm appeared when this VIP personality was eating it. This leader, was so angry with the appearance of the insect, that she took a picture, posted it on all social media platforms, and a mistake as such was advertised not just in the country of the incident, but all over the world. The restaurant chain was so hurt, no one went to eat there, and the business bankruptcy happened imminently. As a result, the owner has to lay off more than 100 employees, terminate contracts with local suppliers, close his business and his own lifestyle changed into poverty. His kids were affected, and couldn´t continue studying at the high-end school where they were enrolled. Next, this remarkable restaurant owner had to migrate to the USA because he couldn´t continue working here (The reputational scandal was enough to kill his aspirations in the local restaurant market). And his family was broken, affecting the social healthy development for his wife and kids.  One of his sons ended up belonging to a crime organization network, and this has caused more violence, vengeance, and cruelty to others. The restaurant chain owner´s wife got ultimately sick after she found out that he found another partner in the USA and has started a new family there. Just a vivid example of what could happen if you find a lettuce caterpillar in one salad dish.

If some part of our brain is connected with our desire to get even, we wonder why aren´t we taught how to manage it or at least moderate it our responses since we are kids? I strongly believe that human beings are able to control themselves in relation to emotions. Therefore, it is important to manage the vengeful emotions, in order to discern and make decisions based on the positive impact for the society, instead of fetching decisions based on vengeance.

As innovation strategists, let´s continue asking questions to ourselves. Why do people seek revenge? Now that we have established a connection between the brain and the desire of vengeance, why are people looking for, when they seek revenge?

I found a simple and compact article written by Leland R. Beaumont. Let´s proceed to read it:


“ When people seek revenge, they feel they have been attacked and suffered some unjust loss or injury. As a result, they are feeling anger, hate, jealousy, envy, or shame. They are humiliated, especially if they are made to feel powerless, foolish, ridiculous, stupid, or ashamed. People seek revenge against the more powerful while they pity the less powerful. They feel they have to “defend the honor” of themselves, or their family, ancestors, or some other group they identify with”.

The goal of revenge is to erase shame or humiliation and restore justice.  But revenge has negative impacts beyond our imagination. According to Beaumont, what people generally want from revenge is one or more rational motives from the list below:

  1. Restore their dignity, and increase their stature
  2. Restore the “honor” of the offended group by avenging the shame
  3. Remember a loved one or ancestor
  4. Teach a lesson to the aggressor
  5. Punish people who cheat and break rules; ensure they learn their lesson
  6. Act as a deterrent to predatory behavior
  7. Obtain acknowledgment from the aggressor that they were wrong and they feel remorse
  8. Obtain a sincere apology and know the aggressor is remorseful
  9. Demonstrate their power so they no longer feel powerless
  10. Obtain reparations; get paid back for their losses, and settle the score
  11. Make the aggressor suffer and feel their pain
  12. Transform themselves from prey to predator, from powerless to powerful, and from shame to satisfied,
  13. Tell their side of the story; set the record straight from their point of view”.

Personally, I will add the next three motives:

  1. Make third-party people, who are innocent, to suffer. To provoke more pain to the offender. (The guiltless can be connected to the offender by family links or friendships, sometimes there is no connection at all)
  2. Establish economic power dominance: Switch the offender into bankruptcy. This is extended to other guiltless individuals, who are forced to sell their estates, companies, financial assets or other valuable belongings.
  3. Provoke weakness to the offender or the guiltless, with a narcissist and mean motives, to gain power dominance.

Whatever the purpose of the revenge, when the psychological dynamics are to attack guiltless individuals who aren´t able to defend themselves, that is shameful. The core of this saga is to explore the revenge strategy against the blameless. Particularly because when we take vengeance, we are triggering more pain to innocent people. And Forgiveness is the only antidote that we have to stop it. To forgive is more than a duty, it is the beginning of new commencements. 

On our next publication, we will explore the mind of unscrupulous leaders, who initiate businesses or elicit commercial revenge with hidden motives in countries or economic systems which are not able to stop them. Either because there is a lack of regulations, or because the regulators do not perceive the revenge rationale motives behind the businesses and their value propositions.

Three inquests for you to think and reflect about for next week:

  1. Do you think there is a revenge rationale strategy behind hurting the Mexican avocado exports to the USA,  using the excuse of the Central American massive immigration to the United States of America? Are the Mexican Avocado Exporters guiltless?
  2. Do you think there was a revenge rationale strategy against the paper books and newspapers industry with the appearance of the digital screen reading devices and tablets? Are the book publishers, libraries and bookstores blameless?
  3. Do you think that The Pig War (1906-1908) was a revenge rationale strategy between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Serbia? What was the Habsburgs revenge strategy behind their unsuccessfully imposed customs blockade on Serbian pork? Were the Serbian faultless?

Next week we will visit some of the most ignominious and nasty commercial or trade wars in history. And remember, please think twice, before making viral social media news about businesses insignificant mistakes. “Choose another path”.

See you next week. Thank you for reading to me. bee

Sources of reference utilized to write some sections of this article:

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. All the presentation slides shown on this blog are prepared by Eleonora Escalante. Nevertheless, all the pictures or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.   

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