“Bossholes” and Other Dour Denizens

Posted by jlubans on October 03, 2017

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Caption: Homer’s Mr. Burns.

Jena McGregor’s “A field guide to jerks at work”
reminded me of the “No Dickheads”* rule enforced within New Zealand’s phenomenal All Blacks rugby team:
“If you are a jerk you won’t play for the All Blacks. A jerk would undercut the Maori concept of whānau or the “extended family” of the team. There's a Maori saying that sums up the meaning of the whānau for the individual in a team: ‘My strength does not come from my individuality, my strength comes from many.’…
‘The All Blacks select on character as well as talent, which means some of New Zealand's most promising players never pull on the black jersey …, their inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau.’”
Commenting on Robert Sutton’s new book, “The A--hole Survival Guide”, McGregor adds a few more categories to the jerk genus. There’s the:
The lone "bosshole"
The powerful bully
The clueless jerk
The petty tyrant, and to balance things out,
The overbearing client.
There’s a magnetic quality to the word “jerk”. We all know one or more. Indeed, we may catch a glimpse of one each morning in the bathroom mirror!
If you take umbrage at that, listen to Sutton’s mantra: be “slow to label other people as a--holes and fast to label yourself one.” Some of us may well be clueless when it comes to our own jerkitude quotient (JQ).
While I have to agree that talking about jerks is more fun than talking about hair products, the discussion weakens – as it always does with intractable problems - when we get into the “What can I do about it?” part. McGregor mentions several options:
Placate?
Go to HR?
Turn the other cheek?
Quit?
Partner with positive “stars”?
Hide?
Get even?
Have a “heart-to-heart” with the jerk?
Make yourself indispensable to the jerk?
I’ve worked for and with jerks. (And, sometimes I’ve been the jerk. Fortunately, I had co-workers and subordinates who were unafraid to confront jerkiness!)
On the other hand, when I was being jerked around I probably went through all of the listed options.
Frankly, when a toxic jerk boss – the ultimate bosshole - has it in for you, the best strategy is to leave, the sooner the better.
“But I don’t want to leave,” you wail.
Well, the worm might turn but what if it does not?
As for karma kicking in, I’m still waiting.

*Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of dickhead, noun, vulgar slang: “A stupid, irritating, or ridiculous person, particularly a man.” In other words, a jerk.
_______________
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Laura is the author of Aesop's Fables, one of the books in the renowned Oxford World's Classics
Her Aesop was the first I bought and consulted when I began the Friday Fables series in 2010. I use her book often and recommend it highly as a splendid and erudite collection of fables and classical commentary.
Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
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ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
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© Copyright John Lubans 2017
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