Saturday, June 15, 2013

Bad Bosses -Misery & Fear- and how to overcome them

Don’t let the people you work for crush your soul. It’s the only one you have. I’ve had some pretty terrible bosses throughout my working life, and I’ve found that some of the most successful people who have managed to claw their way up to positions of power have ended up being some of the most fearful and miserable people you could ever hope to never meet.

For example, the most miserable person that I’ve ever come across was a boss. She took it upon herself to break down everyone who entered her presence. She was ridiculously wealthy and would threaten children with lawsuits. Yes, children. “You know if you do this, I’m going to get my lawyer and sue you.” Yep, she said it to a seven year old. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’d do it too. The worst of it, was the fact that the money she would use fuel her tyranny wasn’t even hers. It was her husband’s. I’d love to say that it was unintentional and she did it out of some sort of uncontrollable compulsion, but that’s not the case. She was strategic and calculating about it. We worked in a bullpen and I had the opportunity to observe her process. She’d size someone up and then shoot them down, demolishing them in the most heavy-hitting way possible was goal and she did it every day.  She spoke like a chain-smoking trucker. On the phone, you would not be able to determine the gender of whom you were speaking and it was intentional. She wore sweats to work. Her weight fluctuated regularly so clothes that had some give to them were optimal. Seeing her take down outsiders was like watching Animal Planet. You’d root for the gazelle, but you knew the croc was gonna get her and there was nothing you could do about it, including change the channel. Then she started eyeballing me. Shit. I knew she was about to unfurl her vitriol my direction an there was nothing to do about it. It was like being put in front of Jabba the hut and just waiting for him to open up the floor and drop you to your doom. “You know, John. I was married before the eyes of god and you’ll never have gay marriage. Most of the country feels the way I do and I will always vote it down.” Then she waited. My response was inspired, and it took a fraction of a moment to reply. It was like I was channeling or something. “You know what? I believe most people your age may feel that way, most people my age are fine with it. Those that are younger are even more progressive, and one day you’re going to die…and all I have to do is wait.”
Tada! There was nothing she could do. I guess the gazelle got away this time.

I had another boss who’d rule-bomb her victims. Making notes on all your mistakes and then choosing her moment to call you in her office, unfurl her list, and nuke you. She is hands-down the most fearful person I’ve ever met. It wasn’t just me that she’d do it to. She’d go after people who she thought she could break. My reaction to it was simple. Do not react. Where I failed earlier with my previous boss was that I reacted. I won the battle but the sweat suit clad trucker would pick future fights because she knew that I’d fight back. Where I succeeded with this one was that I proved unbreakable. I didn’t fire back. I knew this fear monger was the type to find a way to intimidate people into quitting or retaliating, and once you retaliated, the 1st rule bombing would look like a tea party compared to what was to come. Being unflappable sent the message that you were not someone who cared what she thought. Stand tall, an asshole’s opinion is little more than a fart.

So what’s the common thread here? Misery and Fear are basic emotions that alienate those who are afflicted with them. They’re lonely. What they want more than anything is to instill misery and fear in those around them. If successful, they aren’t alone anymore and the burden of misery and fear has been removed from their shoulders and effectively placed, at least for the time being, onto yours.

Don’t give in. Don’t give up, and don’t hand over the keys to your happiness. They’re gonna wreck the car.  

Lastly, I have faith that these people enter your life to teach you the depths of your strength. Once you learn that, they leave.

1 comment:

Ted Moon said...

Well written as always, John. You've actually told me a few other stories about these bosses you reference, and you're not exaggerating.
Better wrap this up now... my boss is the most fearful and miserable person you can ever meet, and I'm afraid what he might do if he saw me writing this (full disclosure: I'm self employed).