When we accuse someone of upsetting the applecart we generally think that person is causing trouble and creating difficulties by doing or saying something that challenges the status quo. Of the four variations of the source of the expression that I read about, the most basic and generic derivation refers to farmers in the 1800s who would bring applecarts loaded with neatly piled, fresh apples for sale to market. The story goes that when “a clumsy person” knocked over the cart, it spills all the apples and spoils the farmer’s plan to sell the apples. The phrase subsequently came to mean knocking things off balance – in a situation and relationship.
This idiom came back into my awareness just this past week when a coaching client told me about a situation with his manager. He said, “If she hadn’t upset the applecart by making that policy I’d have a better chance for a promotion – sooner than later!” When I asked the client – I’ll call him Henry – to tell me more about what happened he continued to use the idiom. Henry described himself as the cart rolling along nicely being pushed by his ambition and confidence. He said when his boss changed a policy about the requirements to become a team leader he realized his opportunity to move ahead as quickly as he had hoped was kyboshed.
I asked Henry what the apples in the cart were and he responded, “they were my hopes, my skills, my hard work, and my dedication that toppled out of the cart”. He told me he confronted his boss in his anger (“a career limiting move”) and a conflict ensued. Henry subsequently retained me to “put the apples back in the cart”. I thought this was an interesting way that Henry discussed his interests and needs and I wanted to pass it on to you (with his permission).
This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog invites readers to consider how vivid this idiom is when it comes to an interpersonal conflict you are or were involved in, and you might use this expression.
What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?
Originally posted on www.cinergycoaching.com/blog/