First, a disclaimer: We never actually did this! [Who's "we," paleface?]
is reserved for those individuals who are such jerks that conventional means, even extraordinary means, cannot influence them to change their destructive behaviors and attitudes. Finally, the only hope is to waylay them in the parking lot and beat the living crap out of them. Also known as ArgumentumAdBaculum
, or TurretCounseling
Yes, I know this sounds terrible, and no, I am not advocating violence, but haven't some of you fantasized about doing just this to some troublesome character in your career? How about that person who mistakes condescending BrutalSarcasm
for wit and employs it at every turn?
An extreme AttitudeAdjustmentTool
There are invariably better ways to effect change than this. Some of them include:
- Give them more rope: they will either hang themselves or get promoted out of harm's way.
- Bullfight: don't oppose them directly. Instead build on the forces in your problem domain to construct a red cape for them to attack. Their energy is spent on something that means little to you, and you can even be seen to cheer them on.
- Friendship: folk who aren't copacetic are often just really lonely people. Befriending them you can both moderate their pigheadedness and make sure their fits are directed at someone other than you. This might even get you an open friendship where now you have a determined rivalry.
- Acceptance: didn't it ever occur to you that just maybe some of the problem lies with you? Try accepting and accommodating your troublemaker. Try to figure out where they're coming from and whether there isn't some way to benefit by it.
- Talk it over: it's quite likely that they find the contention just as unpleasant as do you. Talking it over, the two of you might be able to work out a modus vivendi. At the very least you should be able to build a bond of compassion with your opposite. Treat the contention as part of the problem domain for the project, and attack it rather than them.
- Live and let live: often, combative people will only fight so long as they have someone who fights back. Turn the other cheek a few times and see if that works. Nod and smile and get on with the work - that's what you're being paid to do, after all.
- Use compassion: only argue for causes that are sure winners, that no one can possibly oppose successfully. Anyone who consistently argues against compassionate causes ends up arguing with many more people than just you, and so is likely to be out of your hair in a small amount of time.
In short, if you're lying in wait for someone in a parking lot, the real problem is that you
aren't thinking clearly. Go have a drink or a smoke and think about how to use the above. Both cooperation and contention involve more than one person.
But a caveat: sometimes you do meet a true monster. A genuinely cruel or mad person. I haven't had much experience with such for many years, but the above strategy will often work with them too. Still you may one day be faced with the choice of fight or flight. When that happens, it's sometimes better to fly. -- PeterMerel
Peter is right, of course. But there are people, and this does amaze me, that are so malignant that nothing is beneath them in their quest to reign triumphant. An organization that tolerates this behavior, and may even reward it, is no place I ever want to be. Such places do exist, though I found refuge from the one I had the misfortune to experience some years ago. The happy truth is that most cultures are far kinder and pretty good at correcting people with mean streaks and brutal agendas. Or maybe it's just that I love where I work so much that I'm becoming a real softie. -- DonOlson
(circa 547 A.D.) (really an UrbanLegend
- see TwoStoutMonks
- If any pilgrim shall come from distant parts with wish to dwell in the monastery, and will be content with the customs of the place, and does not by his lavishness disturb the monastery but is simply content, he shall be received for as long as he wishes.
- If, indeed, he shall find fault with anything, and shall expose the matter reasonably and with the humility of charity, the Abbott shall discuss it with him prudently lest perchance God hath sent him for this very thing.
- But, if he shall have been found contumacious during his sojourn in the monastery, then it shall be said to him, firmly, that he must depart. If he will not go, let two stout monks, in the name of God, explain the matter to him.
Dave, that's so good I promoted it. -- RonJeffries
Hah! I knew there was a precedent! Thanks for setting it, Dave.
Ow! Look you guys - Ow! Hey, watch where you're - Ow! Okay, okay, I can take a hint ...
"Live and let live: often, combative people will only fight so long as they have someone who fights back. Turn the other cheek a few times and see if that works. Nod and smile and get on with the work - that's what you're being paid to do, after all."
This seems related to SetTheBozoBit
. -- OleAndersen
See the discussion of the CornCob AntiPattern
in Brown, Malveau, SkipMcCormick
, and Mowbray, AntiPatterns: Refactoring Software, Architectures, and products in Crisis
, ISBN 0471197130
. Some people claim that I'm a perfect example. -- EricJablow
As far as acceptance goes and determining if the problem lies with me, I believe in the "Saddle Theory". If one person calls you a horses ass, you can blow it off. If ten people call you a horses ass, it is time to buy a saddle. - John Collis