How to deal with assholes at work? 10 replies

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random_soldier1337

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#1 3 weeks ago

Sorry a bit late to the party. I'm sure everybody and their grandma has discussed this ad nauseam but maybe y'all have gained some new insight since the last such thread.

Suffering from the hypocrisy of many others at work (grad student engineering university lab/deptt.). I treat them the way they treat me, talkin' all that hot shit the way they do to me and all of a sudden I'm the villain. To be noted, I discovered today that I have temper issues.

How do I deal with these folk? Supposedly I'll be excommunicated and nobody will want to work with me if I take it too far, though my supervisor does recommend telling them they're wrong, if that is indeed the case. I don't really care to work with parasites. Sorry about providing few details. Will reveal more as required or asked for.




Lindale Forum Mod

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#2 3 weeks ago

You have one of two options.

1: Don't talk. You are not at work to make friends. You are at work to work. If they want to lolly-gag, that is their problem, not yours. Just keep your head in your job, and do your job.

2: Stand up, and take leadership. Be the Drill Sargent if you need to. If they want to lolly-gag, they can do it during breaks, or lunch. When they are at work, they are here to work, so get their butts in gear, and MOVE!


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Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#3 3 weeks ago

I'm not sure it's possible to say anything useful on this point without knowing the specifics. Broadly speaking, my experience is been people consider things rude whenever it places them in a bad light, regardless of whether or not what is said is true and regardless of whether or not saying it is necessary in a professional context. The question that point becomes how much you care, how much you consider it rude in a professional context given your own values. And the further question then becomes how much your manager and/or the company HR department cares given where you happen to work at the moment.

That's different of course to the concept of workplace abuse, although it is related that in both instances you want a record where you can show that you've acted in a reasonable manner and that other people have not acted in a reasonable manner, (for certain values of reasonable that hopefully your company and/or its HR department agree with.) In the instance of workplace abuse a lot of times what you're looking at is the social context of the workplace. By which I mean what use people can make of you – are you an item of entertainment to them? Do they get a rise out of winding you up? Do you share similar interests to them? Can you take a joke? Can you make a good joke in return?

Social context in that instance rapidly becomes so incredibly complicated, however, that it's very difficult to say anything meaningful over the Internet. Reaching leadership positions, by way of example, is primarily about having your own house in order and then being there when people really need something solved that you can be very competent in such that they're happy for you to contribute. Unless you have that asymmetry of competence, without already occupying a formal leadership position, it's difficult to see how you would acquire one. If you go around looking for opportunities to lay down the law and take charge, you'll just be that guy everyone dearly wishes would fuck off.




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#4 3 weeks ago
Posted by Nemmerle

If you go around looking for opportunities to lay down the law and take charge, you'll just be that guy everyone dearly wishes would fuck off.


At first, that is true. BUT, you need to focus on what happens down the road. Once you defeat a few Managers, everyone knows who is REALLY in charge. They know who to listen to. They know who to ask for advice.

You also need to be one step ahead of the Managers. You need to know more than they do.

Yes. This all actually did happen to me.

* I got one Manager removed from the team, because his plans kept preventing us from doing our jobs, and then WE would get in trouble for not finishing.


* A Manager tried to take away breaks and lunches, saying that we are not allowed to stop the entire day. Well, that is why labour laws exist. And yes, I do have that website bookmarked on my phone. I took my break, as per legal requirements. And when a Manager tried to write me up for it, all I needed to do was pull up that bookmark on my phone, and tell him to read it, aloud. He gave me the deer in the headlights look, because he knew I had him. Plus, labour laws are federal-level. That means they surpass corporate. If you disobey federal law there are legal consequences. So, you do really want to challenge me? Some months later, someone came to me, saying that guy was trying to pull the same thing on him. I showed him that labour laws website, told him to bookmark it for future reference, and also to show it to that Manager. If that manager does not back down, come get me, and I will personally deal with the situation. I very highly doubt he wants to get into an argument with me again. And that stopped the problem right there. Never again did anyone have their labour right violated, because I was there to make sure they got their rights.


* A Manager from a different department once tried to tried to write me up for doing what MY Manager told me to do, instead of what SHE said to do. Well, I am not on YOUR team, so I don't report to you. I do MY job the way MY Manager tells me to do. If you don't like that, you don't yell at me. You go to my manager, and settle it there. Furthermore, who are you? Company policy says all Managers must be in full uniform, AND have a Manager badge. You have neither.

So, I turned the tides on that Manager, and Court Marshalled her on the spot. Higher Management made her put on her uniform, and go to Human Resources, and get a Manager badge. Plus, from that day on, she never challenged me again.


* Another Manager tried to yell at me for doing what HER Manager told me to do. Yeah. HER boss told me to do something, and I did it to the letter. So, guess what happened to her. She never so much as spoke to me after that.


* Some time later, another Manager pulled me off my job to bail him out, because his team was not working. Once I got back there, I laid down the law. I got the team to finish in less time then the team would normally would have allotted to them. Well, when he decided to write up the team, he included me in that write-up, just because I was there. BAD move there. I got the team to work. If not for me, those guys would still be texting, or talking about video games, instead of working. For that matter, if you need to pull me off my job to bail YOU out, the only words from your filty sewer are going to be "Sir, thank you, Sir."

Well, guess what happened to that write-off. Not only did MY write-up get cancelled, but ALSO the write-ups of the entire team. AND that manager got removed from the team, all because he made the mistake of messing with the wrong guy. Some time later, he also stepped down from Management.


* The most fun fight was when I returned from lunch to find I only had two guys, and a full team's worth of work to do. One guy was moving as fast as he could, and the other guy was crying. Of course, he did do exactly what I told him to do before I went to lunch, in that if you are behind, go tell a manager what is happening, and ask for help. He did that correctly. He is not in any fault. The problem was the Manager he asked completely blew him off. She said she didn't care how understaffed you are. If you don't get the job done, you are fired. Well, guess what I did. I specifically tracked her down, and with my Drill Sargent voice, I told her to get over to our department, NOW. She gave me the deer in the headlights look, but then sank back, because she knew EXACTLY why I had tracker HER down. After that, I rounded up every available Manager in the building. I even got THE big boss involved. In short, I rallied an army, and that army got the job done. It was damn tough, but we did it.

We survived that day, BECAUSE I had the wherewithal to rally that army. And the aforementioned Manager learned that you don't blow off someone who genuinely needs help, and you most certainly don't get to threaten to fire them for needing help. If they need help, you get over there and help, OR you personally find someone who will help.


So, the lesson to be learned is that sometimes, you need to step up, and take that leadership role, and not take no for an answer. If being a Drill Sargent is the only way to make people respect you, if being a Drill Sargent is the only way to get the work done, you need to do it. At the end of the day, your results will speak for themselves. In time, you will earn respect. In time, you will be the one your coworkers are coming to for help, for advice.


BUT, none of that is ever going to happen if you shut down, and allow everyone to walk all over you.


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#5 3 weeks ago
Posted by Lindale

BUT, none of that is ever going to happen if you shut down, and allow everyone to walk all over you.

Work needs to be done, or more precisely there are occasionally deficits in the potential value that can be obtained by a group, and occasionally that requires that one exercise a certain assertiveness in one's communication. However, I would be very careful about confusing the necessary level of assertiveness to add value in a given context with assertiveness as a general behaviour being a good approach to relationships.

I'm reminded of a time when one of my staff, who quite clearly wanted to be in charge and had applied for the job that I'd ended up getting, asked me a question about whether we'd be able to pay for something. This was shortly after I joined the company in the first all hands meeting I held. I replied to the staff member that I didn't think that was possible and that she'd need to check with such and such a person. She then, for lack of a better word, went off on one about how she knew it was possible. I didn't say anything in response. Of course, a couple of weeks later, when things occurred exactly as I had said they would, she looked a little bit of a fool. And I still didn't say anything about it. I never have to this day. But everyone who was in that staff meeting knows how it went whether or not I make a point of it, and that staff member raises their uncertainties in private now.

The point of that story isn't that I was right. I could equally have been wrong, and she could have been right, and then I would have had the resource of someone who knew more than me about a particular area of our financial process to draw on as part of my staff meetings. Potentially someone I could have delegated more important things to. Yes, I'd have had to raise with her certain elements of how she chose to communicate it, but her being right would honestly have been more useful to me than the fact that she was wrong. It would have freed me up to do other things and I'd have had more power within the company as a result. And I'd even have had the opportunity to offer her positive feedback about her advice when she gave it and to work it into her career plan. 

You seem to be thinking of power as if it's a fight, and it isn't really. (Or at least fights are rarely productive as compared to finding ways to work together.) She was - if you want to phrase it as a fight - going to lose in that situation whatever the actual outcome for the disagreement was because:

  1. I didn't make a fight out of it, and:
  2. There was a certain measure of grace to my response, or lack thereof, when she turned out to be wrong. Just as there would have been a certain measure of grace in my praise of her input had she turned out to be right

Power and influence don't come from going out with an intent to Lay Down The Law. You don't need to and it’s not particularly effective if you’re talking about anyone who’s not massively insecure. Like, in terms of threat, my staff aren’t even on my radar. Why would they be? I don't have power with them because we're constantly fighting. How's that power? Even if I won, and beat them into submission whereby they did exactly what I told them how I told them to - how would that be a viable power base? Like great, you've pissed away all the positive input of their intelligence and varied backgrounds because you felt like being a tyrant? That's not an effective approach to life.

Even assuming that for one reason or another one of them happened to randomly take issue with my dear and fluffy existence, like they woke up one day and hated my guts at random...? That approach still wouldn't make sense. The power disparity between a manager and their directs is so great that as long as I avoid doing anything actively illegal, the worst they can do is try to stop people doing their jobs. Even say they do that - I’ll still treat them as if they’re exercising all the good will in the world – I’ll give them our counselling line, I’ll ask them if there’s anything going on at home, I’ll look at the details of the job that they’ve messed up and see if there’s something that can be done to help them. They’ll be gone in three months (16 documented instances of the behaviour) if it goes on. Not because three months is the quickest I can run them out of the business but because three months is about as long as I can excuse that sort of behaviour to the company and to HR if I’m writing honest reviews of them and trying to work with them to improve their behaviour.

It's just nuts to look at that sort of thing as a fight. In the event I had to fire them that wouldn't be me winning, that would be me failing to help someone keep their job.


Power doesn’t have to be loud; it doesn’t need to be a drill sergeant - and being a drill sergeant isn’t the same thing as having power, (although it can of course cow the insecure and easily intimidated.) And drawing from your examples I would argue that the things that have given you most power within the organisation have been those times you supported your co-workers with things where there was a clear deficit of leadership from those managing you and that deficit of leadership was hurting your co-workers interests. The points in time where people would be glad of your input and if you happened to be a little loud in offering it, they’re not going to mind that much because what you’re offering is good. 

Power isn't a fight, it's not standing there dressing someone weaker than you down. It's something that you build in terms of helping people and defending their interests and being there with competence when they really need leadership to get them out of a bad spot (not when you might want to Be a Leader.) It builds over time and it lends weight to your words and actions. And if you've got to shout at people to get them to pay attention, you don't have it. You've just got the ability to intimidate people who hate you the minute the fear of you is gone.

That won't help someone with their co-workers if that's all they bring to the table. If they bring something good and needed to the table, people will excuse the manner of its communication, but if all they bring to the table is that drill sergeant attitude and their need to be Very In Charge... no. That won't work out.

You need to stand up for yourself if you're being bullied, and sometimes you need to find a different job at the same time as standing up for yourself because the job where your manager isn't keeping a handle on bullying isn't worth keeping. But that's not the same thing as being a leader and being a leader, whilst it requires the ability to stand up for yourself, isn't the same thing as standing up for yourself. Being a leader is more about standing up for other people.




Last edited by Nemmerle 3 weeks ago

Lindale Forum Mod

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#6 2 weeks ago
Posted by Nemmerle
And drawing from your examples I would argue that the things that have given you most power within the organisation have been those times you supported your co-workers with things where there was a clear deficit of leadership from those managing you and that deficit of leadership was hurting your co-workers interests. The points in time where people would be glad of your input and if you happened to be a little loud in offering it, they’re not going to mind that much because what you’re offering is good.

That sums it up right there. The difference between being a leader, and being what you described as "that guy everyone dearly wishes would fuck off," is what you do after those battles.


* Do you turn on your co-workers, and continue on a tirade to take down everyone around you? That is a bully. A bully's only intent is to bring YOU down, to raise HIMSELF. If you never challenge them, then they have a perfectly-clear path on which to continue until they eventually become a dictator. Sadly, these do exist in management, and I have defeated them, too. This is where being a Drill Sargent really comes in handy. Bullies are cowards, and the moment they are cornered, they reveal that fact. With one particular bully, in front of his own team, I had him standing at Attention, and I made him start and end every sentence with "Sir." From that day on, he showed respect. The lesson learned is that you need to stand up to the bullies. The only way you will ever get a bully to respect you is to take him down, and show him that he is not who he thinks he is.


* Do you use that power to elevate everyone around you? A good leader gives back. Once you eliminate the oppressors, and guarantee everyone is being given their rights, you change gears to supporting those around you. Once you create that well-oiled machine, the job runs like clockwork, and everyone finishes their tasks, and on time. People will listen to you, because they want to, because they know you are on their side. People will ask you for help, or ask you for advice.


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random_soldier1337

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#7 1 week ago
Posted by Lindale

You have one of two options.

1: Don't talk. You are not at work to make friends. You are at work to work. If they want to lolly-gag, that is their problem, not yours. Just keep your head in your job, and do your job.

2: Stand up, and take leadership. Be the Drill Sargent if you need to. If they want to lolly-gag, they can do it during breaks, or lunch. When they are at work, they are here to work, so get their butts in gear, and MOVE!

Is there some way to do this diplomatically? I'm not the leader nor do I have a good vantage point to assert leadership from. I can work from home so I have decided to do that to avoid them altogether but for the times we have to share, what should I do?

Posted by Nemmerle

I'm not sure it's possible to say anything useful on this point without knowing the specifics. 

Are there any specific details I could give you to help you understand the situation better?

Broadly speaking, my experience is been people consider things rude whenever it places them in a bad light, regardless of whether or not what is said is true and regardless of whether or not saying it is necessary in a professional context. The question that point becomes how much you care, how much you consider it rude in a professional context given your own values. And the further question then becomes how much your manager and/or the company HR department cares given where you happen to work at the moment.

Should it not be mutual? I, as you, have been holding on to my words as best as I can but given that I have been pushed to my limit, I can't help but say some things that supposedly display me as an individual with a fiery temperament (in a bad way). And if in fact it is not felt to be mutual, would it be wiser to reconsider my degree of contact and trust in these individuals?


That's different of course to the concept of workplace abuse, although it is related that in both instances you want a record where you can show that you've acted in a reasonable manner and that other people have not acted in a reasonable manner, (for certain values of reasonable that hopefully your company and/or its HR department agree with.) In the instance of workplace abuse a lot of times what you're looking at is the social context of the workplace. By which I mean what use people can make of you – are you an item of entertainment to them? Do they get a rise out of winding you up? Do you share similar interests to them? Can you take a joke? Can you make a good joke in return?

Well I can say at least this much that, I don't know if culture difference plays a role or what instances you believe cultural differences would be in act but it is true I'm some sort of amalgam of East and West that doesn't really fit in either place, at least as I have felt. As to your other questions if you actually meant to ask them, in the order you asked; 

Don't know. 

Don't know. 

I get the feeling of no other than our various work in science and engineering. 

Only if they can take that same kind. If you make an insensitive joke towards me or take such from somebody else but  go full SJW when I do the same, you have no right to joke about with me.

I hold the same standard for joking that those around me have set.

Reaching leadership positions, by way of example, is primarily about having your own house in order and then being there when people really need something solved that you can be very competent in such that they're happy for you to contribute. Unless you have that asymmetry of competence, without already occupying a formal leadership position, it's difficult to see how you would acquire one.

I'm not sure I understood. Could you rephrase or give an example? Unless you mean the kinds of situations you guys have described thus far.

Posted by Lindale
Posted by Nemmerle

If you go around looking for opportunities to lay down the law and take charge, you'll just be that guy everyone dearly wishes would fuck off.


At first, that is true. BUT, you need to focus on what happens down the road. Once you defeat a few Managers, everyone knows who is REALLY in charge. They know who to listen to. They know who to ask for advice.

You also need to be one step ahead of the Managers. You need to know more than they do.

Yes. This all actually did happen to me.

* I got one Manager removed from the team, because his plans kept preventing us from doing our jobs, and then WE would get in trouble for not finishing.


* A Manager tried to take away breaks and lunches, saying that we are not allowed to stop the entire day. Well, that is why labour laws exist. And yes, I do have that website bookmarked on my phone. I took my break, as per legal requirements. And when a Manager tried to write me up for it, all I needed to do was pull up that bookmark on my phone, and tell him to read it, aloud. He gave me the deer in the headlights look, because he knew I had him. Plus, labour laws are federal-level. That means they surpass corporate. If you disobey federal law there are legal consequences. So, you do really want to challenge me? Some months later, someone came to me, saying that guy was trying to pull the same thing on him. I showed him that labour laws website, told him to bookmark it for future reference, and also to show it to that Manager. If that manager does not back down, come get me, and I will personally deal with the situation. I very highly doubt he wants to get into an argument with me again. And that stopped the problem right there. Never again did anyone have their labour right violated, because I was there to make sure they got their rights.


* A Manager from a different department once tried to tried to write me up for doing what MY Manager told me to do, instead of what SHE said to do. Well, I am not on YOUR team, so I don't report to you. I do MY job the way MY Manager tells me to do. If you don't like that, you don't yell at me. You go to my manager, and settle it there. Furthermore, who are you? Company policy says all Managers must be in full uniform, AND have a Manager badge. You have neither.

So, I turned the tides on that Manager, and Court Marshalled her on the spot. Higher Management made her put on her uniform, and go to Human Resources, and get a Manager badge. Plus, from that day on, she never challenged me again.


* Another Manager tried to yell at me for doing what HER Manager told me to do. Yeah. HER boss told me to do something, and I did it to the letter. So, guess what happened to her. She never so much as spoke to me after that.


* Some time later, another Manager pulled me off my job to bail him out, because his team was not working. Once I got back there, I laid down the law. I got the team to finish in less time then the team would normally would have allotted to them. Well, when he decided to write up the team, he included me in that write-up, just because I was there. BAD move there. I got the team to work. If not for me, those guys would still be texting, or talking about video games, instead of working. For that matter, if you need to pull me off my job to bail YOU out, the only words from your filty sewer are going to be "Sir, thank you, Sir."

Well, guess what happened to that write-off. Not only did MY write-up get cancelled, but ALSO the write-ups of the entire team. AND that manager got removed from the team, all because he made the mistake of messing with the wrong guy. Some time later, he also stepped down from Management.


* The most fun fight was when I returned from lunch to find I only had two guys, and a full team's worth of work to do. One guy was moving as fast as he could, and the other guy was crying. Of course, he did do exactly what I told him to do before I went to lunch, in that if you are behind, go tell a manager what is happening, and ask for help. He did that correctly. He is not in any fault. The problem was the Manager he asked completely blew him off. She said she didn't care how understaffed you are. If you don't get the job done, you are fired. Well, guess what I did. I specifically tracked her down, and with my Drill Sargent voice, I told her to get over to our department, NOW. She gave me the deer in the headlights look, but then sank back, because she knew EXACTLY why I had tracker HER down. After that, I rounded up every available Manager in the building. I even got THE big boss involved. In short, I rallied an army, and that army got the job done. It was damn tough, but we did it.

We survived that day, BECAUSE I had the wherewithal to rally that army. And the aforementioned Manager learned that you don't blow off someone who genuinely needs help, and you most certainly don't get to threaten to fire them for needing help. If they need help, you get over there and help, OR you personally find someone who will help.


So, the lesson to be learned is that sometimes, you need to step up, and take that leadership role, and not take no for an answer. If being a Drill Sargent is the only way to make people respect you, if being a Drill Sargent is the only way to get the work done, you need to do it. At the end of the day, your results will speak for themselves. In time, you will earn respect. In time, you will be the one your coworkers are coming to for help, for advice.


BUT, none of that is ever going to happen if you shut down, and allow everyone to walk all over you.

In my situation, nobody has been stupid enough to actually do something as egregious as you have described. Most of them are simply very churlish and just asking a simple question leads to a smartass answer either in tone or in language, though worse has been done. Just no way to prove it and it didn't have any serious repercussions, so whatever. I don't really care to associate with those whom do not expect respect to be mutual. If you are going to do that then expect me to bite back. Thinking on it though, the dilemma comes from the fact that apparently networking is a big thing and if word gets out that you suck for some reason or another, even though you were the one in the right, nobody will want to work with you or your job opportunities will get reduced or whatever. Somebody wrongs me and I don't want to talk to them, I get branded a PITA to be with. Somebody wrongs me and I tell them what's what, same thing happens, if not getting reported and having to deal with that. What's a guy supposed to do to get some fucking peace and just do his damn job without it having repercussions later down the line because all they wanted to do was keep business as business and not make 'friends' with a bunch of assholes?

Posted by Nemmerle
Posted by Lindale

BUT, none of that is ever going to happen if you shut down, and allow everyone to walk all over you.

Work needs to be done, or more precisely there are occasionally deficits in the potential value that can be obtained by a group, and occasionally that requires that one exercise a certain assertiveness in one's communication. However, I would be very careful about confusing the necessary level of assertiveness to add value in a given context with assertiveness as a general behaviour being a good approach to relationships.

I'm reminded of a time when one of my staff, who quite clearly wanted to be in charge and had applied for the job that I'd ended up getting, asked me a question about whether we'd be able to pay for something. This was shortly after I joined the company in the first all hands meeting I held. I replied to the staff member that I didn't think that was possible and that she'd need to check with such and such a person. She then, for lack of a better word, went off on one about how she knew it was possible. I didn't say anything in response. Of course, a couple of weeks later, when things occurred exactly as I had said they would, she looked a little bit of a fool. And I still didn't say anything about it. I never have to this day. But everyone who was in that staff meeting knows how it went whether or not I make a point of it, and that staff member raises their uncertainties in private now.

The point of that story isn't that I was right. I could equally have been wrong, and she could have been right, and then I would have had the resource of someone who knew more than me about a particular area of our financial process to draw on as part of my staff meetings. Potentially someone I could have delegated more important things to. Yes, I'd have had to raise with her certain elements of how she chose to communicate it, but her being right would honestly have been more useful to me than the fact that she was wrong. It would have freed me up to do other things and I'd have had more power within the company as a result. And I'd even have had the opportunity to offer her positive feedback about her advice when she gave it and to work it into her career plan. 

You seem to be thinking of power as if it's a fight, and it isn't really. (Or at least fights are rarely productive as compared to finding ways to work together.) She was - if you want to phrase it as a fight - going to lose in that situation whatever the actual outcome for the disagreement was because:

  1. I didn't make a fight out of it, and:
  2. There was a certain measure of grace to my response, or lack thereof, when she turned out to be wrong. Just as there would have been a certain measure of grace in my praise of her input had she turned out to be right

Power and influence don't come from going out with an intent to Lay Down The Law. You don't need to and it’s not particularly effective if you’re talking about anyone who’s not massively insecure. Like, in terms of threat, my staff aren’t even on my radar. Why would they be? I don't have power with them because we're constantly fighting. How's that power? Even if I won, and beat them into submission whereby they did exactly what I told them how I told them to - how would that be a viable power base? Like great, you've pissed away all the positive input of their intelligence and varied backgrounds because you felt like being a tyrant? That's not an effective approach to life.

Even assuming that for one reason or another one of them happened to randomly take issue with my dear and fluffy existence, like they woke up one day and hated my guts at random...? That approach still wouldn't make sense. The power disparity between a manager and their directs is so great that as long as I avoid doing anything actively illegal, the worst they can do is try to stop people doing their jobs. Even say they do that - I’ll still treat them as if they’re exercising all the good will in the world – I’ll give them our counselling line, I’ll ask them if there’s anything going on at home, I’ll look at the details of the job that they’ve messed up and see if there’s something that can be done to help them. They’ll be gone in three months (16 documented instances of the behaviour) if it goes on. Not because three months is the quickest I can run them out of the business but because three months is about as long as I can excuse that sort of behaviour to the company and to HR if I’m writing honest reviews of them and trying to work with them to improve their behaviour.

It's just nuts to look at that sort of thing as a fight. In the event I had to fire them that wouldn't be me winning, that would be me failing to help someone keep their job.


Power doesn’t have to be loud; it doesn’t need to be a drill sergeant - and being a drill sergeant isn’t the same thing as having power, (although it can of course cow the insecure and easily intimidated.) And drawing from your examples I would argue that the things that have given you most power within the organisation have been those times you supported your co-workers with things where there was a clear deficit of leadership from those managing you and that deficit of leadership was hurting your co-workers interests. The points in time where people would be glad of your input and if you happened to be a little loud in offering it, they’re not going to mind that much because what you’re offering is good. 

Power isn't a fight, it's not standing there dressing someone weaker than you down. It's something that you build in terms of helping people and defending their interests and being there with competence when they really need leadership to get them out of a bad spot (not when you might want to Be a Leader.) It builds over time and it lends weight to your words and actions. And if you've got to shout at people to get them to pay attention, you don't have it. You've just got the ability to intimidate people who hate you the minute the fear of you is gone.

That won't help someone with their co-workers if that's all they bring to the table. If they bring something good and needed to the table, people will excuse the manner of its communication, but if all they bring to the table is that drill sergeant attitude and their need to be Very In Charge... no. That won't work out.

You need to stand up for yourself if you're being bullied, and sometimes you need to find a different job at the same time as standing up for yourself because the job where your manager isn't keeping a handle on bullying isn't worth keeping. But that's not the same thing as being a leader and being a leader, whilst it requires the ability to stand up for yourself, isn't the same thing as standing up for yourself. Being a leader is more about standing up for other people.

About the part where you said you would raise the issue of manner of communication with your coworker, how would that not be 'laying down the law' as you say? That's pretty much the problem I have with many of them and I am not sure if I could or should address it. In the other part you have mentioned that sometimes you have to stand up for being bullied and perhaps leave if leadership is weak or incapable of handling such an issue. If that is your suggestion, then I haven't gotten to that point yet. Still need that PhD. Anything else you can say other than to bide my time and bite the bullet?

To your comment on power and leadership as well as your discourse with Lindale, it sounds like you have to be very particular with your tone and when to speak. I mean I get that, I'm pretty sure we all do but is there anything more specific you could tell me or examples you could give, other than the ones already given if you feel there could be better examples?

Posted by Lindale
Posted by Nemmerle
And drawing from your examples I would argue that the things that have given you most power within the organisation have been those times you supported your co-workers with things where there was a clear deficit of leadership from those managing you and that deficit of leadership was hurting your co-workers interests. The points in time where people would be glad of your input and if you happened to be a little loud in offering it, they’re not going to mind that much because what you’re offering is good.

That sums it up right there. The difference between being a leader, and being what you described as "that guy everyone dearly wishes would fuck off," is what you do after those battles.


* Do you turn on your co-workers, and continue on a tirade to take down everyone around you? That is a bully. A bully's only intent is to bring YOU down, to raise HIMSELF. If you never challenge them, then they have a perfectly-clear path on which to continue until they eventually become a dictator. Sadly, these do exist in management, and I have defeated them, too. This is where being a Drill Sargent really comes in handy. Bullies are cowards, and the moment they are cornered, they reveal that fact. With one particular bully, in front of his own team, I had him standing at Attention, and I made him start and end every sentence with "Sir." From that day on, he showed respect. The lesson learned is that you need to stand up to the bullies. The only way you will ever get a bully to respect you is to take him down, and show him that he is not who he thinks he is.


* Do you use that power to elevate everyone around you? A good leader gives back. Once you eliminate the oppressors, and guarantee everyone is being given their rights, you change gears to supporting those around you. Once you create that well-oiled machine, the job runs like clockwork, and everyone finishes their tasks, and on time. People will listen to you, because they want to, because they know you are on their side. People will ask you for help, or ask you for advice.

I fear that in my situation those around me don't understand these differences. I don't get the feeling they are driven by any standard ethics or general moral code but mostly the code of what I want and what feels good so I feel that standing up would just paint me in a bad light. As I have said, everyone already thinks I have anger issues even though, at least if they were referring to any specific incidents, I had a right to be angry and I will most certainly not change my stance on that right.




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#8 5 days ago
Posted by random_soldier1337

Are there any specific details I could give you to help you understand the situation better?

Well, what are we talking about here? There are many ways to be an asshole. Do they tell jokes that you find offensive; do they go around hurling racial abuse at you? What’s the behaviour – by which I mean something that we could film them doing – that you object to?

Posted by random_soldier1337

Broadly speaking, my experience is been people consider things rude whenever it places them in a bad light, regardless of whether or not what is said is true and regardless of whether or not saying it is necessary in a professional context. The question that point becomes how much you care, how much you consider it rude in a professional context given your own values. And the further question then becomes how much your manager and/or the company HR department cares given where you happen to work at the moment.

Should it not be mutual? I, as you, have been holding on to my words as best as I can but given that I have been pushed to my limit, I can't help but say some things that supposedly display me as an individual with a fiery temperament (in a bad way). And if in fact it is not felt to be mutual, would it be wiser to reconsider my degree of contact and trust in these individuals?

Whether it should or shouldn’t be mutual, it isn’t mutual. You’re going to have to deal with people you don’t get along with in your life, and the playing field won’t always be even in that regard. Sometimes the people who are treating you in ways you object to will have better connections than you, sometimes they’ll be able to visit horrible consequences on you or those you care about. If their treating you in that way gets you to quit the field entirely, then they win and your life is potentially harder than it has to be.

By way of example, there’s a woman we do some work with who for various reasons pays us a lot of money. I despise her. I try not to, because I know it’s not a useful emotion in a business context. But man, sometimes?... She’s rude, she directly attacks the assumption of good will that we rely on to trade with others when we’re in it for the long haul, whenever there’s a challenge she immediately goes after the characters of everyone involved… just an awful, vile woman. But I work with her, because I like the part where we take her money. And she works with me, despite the fact that she clearly hates my guts, because she needs my people to do some work.

I’m not saying you have to trust them to do anything but be true to their nature, I’m fairly sure the woman mentioned above would stab her own mother in the back. But the more people you can work with the more places you can go and still be successful. Especially when you get up to management level, a lot of what determines your success is how many different people you can work with.

Posted by random_soldier1337

Reaching leadership positions, by way of example, is primarily about having your own house in order and then being there when people really need something solved that you can be very competent in such that they're happy for you to contribute. Unless you have that asymmetry of competence, without already occupying a formal leadership position, it's difficult to see how you would acquire one.

I'm not sure I understood. Could you rephrase or give an example? Unless you mean the kinds of situations you guys have described thus far.

There are different kinds of power that you might have as a leader. There are various ways to break them down, but three is probably about as many as you need:

  1. One's the power you get from good relationships, it comes from trust, from helping people out over time, from showing interest in their needs and desires. 
  2. One's power that you get from occupying a certain role; it's the power that an organisation gives you to visit consequence - by which I mean to reward or punish people. 
  3. And one's power that you get from having expertise, competence, professionalism etc, when they're needed

Applied to your specific situation:

  1. You don't have any relationship power, because you think these people are assholes and whatever your relationship looks like it's kinda predicated on the idea that they don't respect you in any measure. 
  2. You don't have any role power because the organisation in question hasn't seen fit to grant you any. 
  3. And you don't have any expertise power either because you're all around the same level of competence or because there's simply not a moment in which they'd be in the shit and you could get them out of it.

Being a leader as a response to being bullied isn't going to work out for you, because there's nothing there that grants you the power to be a leader. It'd be like if my admin assistant decided to wander over to another department and tell them all to do their work properly. She doesn't have anything that would let her be a leader in that situation. She wouldn't have special expertise that they don't, she wouldn't have great relationships to draw on where they'd want to do things for her, and she wouldn't have the ability to visit consequences on them.

Posted by random_soldier1337

About the part where you said you would raise the issue of manner of communication with your coworker, how would that not be 'laying down the law' as you say? That's pretty much the problem I have with many of them and I am not sure if I could or should address it. In the other part you have mentioned that sometimes you have to stand up for being bullied and perhaps leave if leadership is weak or incapable of handling such an issue. If that is your suggestion, then I haven't gotten to that point yet. Still need that PhD. Anything else you can say other than to bide my time and bite the bullet?

To your comment on power and leadership as well as your discourse with Lindale, it sounds like you have to be very particular with your tone and when to speak. I mean I get that, I'm pretty sure we all do but is there anything more specific you could tell me or examples you could give, other than the ones already given if you feel there could be better examples?

My example in that situation probably wouldn’t work for you, because I was in a position of power and that lets me ask for things with the assumption that there will be professional consequences if I repeatedly don’t get them. For example, I could have said:

"Hey, when you ask a question and then immediately state an answer to your own question that disagrees with the one given, it comes across as a power play rather than an honest attempt at understanding. Can you change that in the future?"

What’s she going to do? Say no? Fine. I’ll write it down and note I gave her feedback, asked her to commit to change and she wouldn’t. How many chances do you think you get to change your behaviour? Not that many before you're dismissed. She needs to maintain the illusion of good will even if she doesn’t actually mean it when she says 'yes' – and considering we’d be revisiting that exercise the next time it came up, that’s not a game she would have been able to play forever. And I'd be going into offering that feedback with the assumption that she didn't know how it was going to come off - that she'd gone down a different line of thought and honestly hadn't thought of the consequences of what she was saying. Like ya' know, it was just an innocent mistake by someone who meant well.


More generally, giving peers feedback – and specifically feedback on your boundaries? Keep it as low key as possible,

“Hey man, just to let you know - I didn’t find that funny.”

“Well we were just joking.”

“Cool, didn’t find it funny. No blame.”

“What, can’t take a joke?! Hahaha.”

“Yeah, I’ll let you get on with that by yourself.”

You're just giving them information about your boundaries and enforcing that boundary by leaving the situation if it's ignored. You're not threatening them, you're not telling them off, you're just giving them information with the assumption that they don't want to attack you. If they ignore that, and it becomes a trend then you can progress the situation.

And it has to actually be low-key. Like, you have to be coming from a place where you’re calm and just giving them info. It's not like, "Hey man! I didn't find that funny! GRR!" Maybe even a place where you can have a quiet internal chuckle at the foolishness of their behaviour. If it’s got to the point where you’re just at the edge of what you can control without screaming “fuck off!” in their faces, that shows in the feedback you give, and you don’t have the emotional resources to manage that situation. 

In that situation you need to make some investment in processing your emotions and managing your anger. Because if people can say things and it sets you off like that, then they can just click their fingers whenever they want and you're stuffed.




Last edited by Nemmerle 5 days ago

random_soldier1337

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#9 3 days ago
Posted by Nemmerle
Posted by random_soldier1337

Are there any specific details I could give you to help you understand the situation better?

Well, what are we talking about here? There are many ways to be an asshole. Do they tell jokes that you find offensive; do they go around hurling racial abuse at you? What’s the behaviour – by which I mean something that we could film them doing – that you object to?

One time I asked for help from one of the guys in my group and he said, verbatim, "Guess I'm your fuckin' father now." Yeah fine you have other shit to do or don't want to help. That language doesn't do you any favors. Had to share a room with the same guy for a conference. First day we are all tired from travel. I wake up late and have to go. Single bathroom means he went first, stays for an hour, takes a massive dump so I can't even piss without looking at a backed up toilet, calls management for a plunger. When I lose my shit at him for being so incompetent and telling him off to actually ask for staff to fix his shit, since we are in a 5 star hotel, he yells at me saying he did all that he could. You're at fault, not me. Why did you stay in there for an hour? And no it wasn't because he was trying to fix the toilet because another I have spoken to in my group had the same issue with him at another conference where he got dressed up and ready while leaving literally 10 minutes for the other guy to prepare for his work.

Another guy in my group, I asked him for help with a task. He told me he couldn't because he had an urgent meeting with a company on campus. Then as soon as we leave class, he just chats up another girl for 10 or so minutes before leaving right in front of my face. What was so urgent if you could chat up for 10 minutes? Or do you just not want to help? Same guy batted me away like a mosquito at one point just for a light tap to ask him something.

Third guy, I try to help him out several times by pointing out where it is what he is looking for when he clearly doesn't see it right in front of his face and he rattles off at me to let him do his own business. Had to make a conscious effort to not give a fuck about him after a few times. Also likes to boss around while working with him while not listening to others opinions.

Fourth guy, just loves giving unsolicited advice. Not really problematic or something that can be dealt with given the context but I swear it irks me sometimes when he uses the sort of tone or language to make me seem stupid. He has literally went off on several occasions about how I could not pay attention to some detail or other in someone's verbal diarrhea (like really wish they would just stick to the point instead of all the gossip-y bullshit that they also throw out with it). I should agree with him except for the fact that same happens when I say something and everyone forgets what I said literally five minutes ago. Why am I held to a certain standard but not you?

Fifth guy, thought he was my friend but it is as one saying in Hindi goes, "Better a cunning foe than a foolish friend." In retrospect, whenever he wanted to "hang" he had no regard for any routine I may have. I suppose it's my fault for not telling him but apparently friends should hang out at least sometimes. Again that isn't really what hurt. What hurt is in the following story: a few in my department (not all in my group) were huddled up having a conversation. One dude is having a baby. People joke about what to name them. Somebody goes on about how the baby was conceived in a haunted basement and he laughs it all off until then. I say name them Damien and he threatens me by saying it wouldn't be so funny if he were to kick me in the face and that we are not good friends. Why yes clearly "good friends" can make jokes in poor taste but not someone who thought they were your friend. Not to mention that there are no positive connotations I can think of when someone states that they are not friends, just acquaintances. Next thing you know, his good friend will commit a crime against me but he'll support them all the same because they are a "good friend" and I am not. Pardon my digression, but the point I was making was that literally nobody interjected or came after the fact to console me, least of all my "friend" whom I invited to lunch on the house many times. I get that I am an adult and that nobody had the duty to console me or talk to me about it but when your "friend" doesn't do much to help a situation where you were hurt, they may be more fair weather friends than actual friends is what I am getting at and why I hold a resentment towards this "friend". Much of what I described isn't something you can speak to anyone of. It's most probably the guy going off about kicking is the best I could actually talk about.

Most of the others, I don't really feel much of any connection to simply because they will never chat up with me the way they do with everyone else in the group. Some of them even get all huggy kissy and that sort of showy bullshit and info from the grapevine says they are quite involved with each other. Just saying that to attest to some of what you have said, not as an answer to the specific question.

For the rest I definitely do agree with all of what you have said. In light of learning of being told I have anger issues from my advisor, I'm trying to pick up most of that. Though, I can't say I feel anything, if less than anything good, given what I have described to you and the fact that they saw fit to tell my advisor of my "anger issues" when I have seen them act the same and I haven't been the one running about and telling of all the crap they have done so as to not sow discord in the group.




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#10 3 days ago


You've gotta focus on you, man. Yeah these people have been rude, so nuts to them. Even professionally, you need something outside of work to stay sane. What do you enjoy, that's just for you? Go do that. Go get a massage, put some nice scented candles on. Take a camera out. Go see a film that you want to see. Get your zen on. There any groups or clubs around you that do those things you enjoy? Great if there are, if not, no biggy. 

When you're okay by yourself, then you can go find people who have similar interests, who enjoy doing the sort of things you enjoy. Those people have a much greater chance of being your friends. 

You can be colleagues, you can enforce professional boundaries with them and reasonably stand by those boundaries. But that's about the best I think you're gonna get in this situation.




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