Popular Posts

Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Imagine the following situation. You are sitting in a meeting trying to reach a collective decision. You make an innocuous  contribution to the discussion which  nobody, apart from the Chair of the meeting, disagrees with. The reaction of the Chair is to call you and/or your comment "inane". Recall the dictionary definition of the word: "silly; stupid; not significant". It's not very nice. Should you:

a) Lie on your back with your legs in the air and bare your throat;
b) Give them both barrels and just say what is on your mind (and everyone else's);
c) Offer them the Glasgow handshake.

Where I was brought up c) was the normal sanction for breaches of social decorum - recall the NRA's "An armed society is a polite society" - especially if  discreet bulges in the jacket are allowed: think signaling. But let's rule it out as a viable option in a professional context. 
Experience teaches me that the meek do not inherit the earth - or anything else for that matter. There is no pie in the sky when you die so no virtue in indulging megalomaniac, egotistical, bullies. Bullies thrive on lack of resistance and the less resistance they encounter the more audacious their sense of entitlement becomes. They really do only understand one language, though of course under threat they resort to the stock response: "Please Sir, I didn't do anything. He did it to me first!". Anyway a) is a non starter if you want anything except a one way ticket to Palookaville.
That leaves us with b). It's a bit ugly and you come out looking like the awkward, cussed, bad guy who told an off colour joke in front of the maiden Auntie. It's a no win situation, but really what else can you do?  There are times when either you have to concede all the best tunes to the Devil or you have to say: "Hier stehe ich und kann nicht anders".


Andy said...

Bullies can't be tolerated. My experience (I'm youngish, naive, reckless) is that standing up to a bully (both barrels, loud and proud) in the work place tends to have three effects:

1. A negative effect on any bystanders who have a preference for avoiding conflict; they'll look horrified and probably try to avoid the meeting next time.

2. Other people tend, after time - months - also to stand up to the bully if (and only if?) they're reassured that the bully really is a bully.

3. Bullies don't change, so the only positive outcome is they avoid you - any contact in future will be poisonous and likely to lead to recurring arguments.

Gradient of responses for your example:

1. "You disagree?"
2. "Excuse me?"
3. "That's very rude"
4. "Just who do you think you are?!"
5. "Get fucked, shit for brains"

Ivich said...

If we decide that 'inane' is inappropriate in a professional context, does that make 'c' okay?