A racket is a resilient complaint, which justifies negative, game-playing behaviour designed to get a relational advantage (pay-off). It is harmful to us in the long run. The cost is often relational damage but, at a basic level, it is the loss of an open and fully-resourced engagement with the challenges in our lives. A racket is stimulated by a perceived assault on an emotional vulnerability, which we are unwilling to feel. Instead, we create a complaint, which is skewed to support the use of a racket emotion. This false (ersatz) emotion is more bearable for us and through years of practice, it is loaded with devices to generate pay-offs (short term advantages in our relationships). As a result of these pay-offs, and the initial trauma trying to complete itself, we develop repetitive self-sabotaging behaviour, denying the cost to our lives. Rackets.
In leadership, rackets are particularly harmful. They prevent reliable agreements and compromise the relationships in the team. Learning how to be honest about the costs and the pay-offs from the rackets is the only way to dismantle them. This often leads to an exposure of the original vulnerabilities that are being defended. Leaders need to become more vulnerable if they are going to clean up dysfunctions in their teams and access the powerful conversations that improve performance.