Tuesday, December 10, 2013

ADVICE: Workplace Bullying in Astronomy III

This is the final post in a series on workplace bullying. It is about the delicious fantasies of revenge. Remember the old adage, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” This tells us that the best payback is the one that comes with planning. Revenge can be sweet (and tempting!), but be careful. If you are in a position to plan revenge, make sure that your scheme will not backfire and put you in an even worse situation. Here are a few sweet revenge stories from a great reference on workplace bullying entitled, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't by Robert I. Sutton.

Mute the Rant: A CEO described how a member of her board of directors routinely insulted her, swore at her, and demeaned her efforts. She developed a bag of tricks to protect her self-esteem. She avoided meeting him in person and, instead, had phone calls with him. She would say hello, wait for him to start ranting, then turn down the volume and work on something else. Every now and then, she would check in, make some remark to indicate that she was on the line, and then turn the volume down again and go back to her work. After about 30 minutes, he usually wore himself out, and she could then have a reasonable conversation with him.

The Chocolate Solution: A radio producer felt oppressed because her boss was constantly stealing her food -- right off her desk. So she made some candy out of Ex-Lax, the chocolate flavored laxative, and left it on her desk. As expected, he ate them without permission and spent the afternoon dealing with the consequences of his actions.

Luggage Vacation: A writer was standing behind an irate passenger at the check-in line at JFK. The passenger went on and on insulting the airline employee, but she remained professional. When the jerk finally moved on, the writer moved up and asked the airline employee how she could be so calm. Her words stuck forever in his memory: "Oh, he's going to LA, but his luggage is going to Nairobi.” The faint but unmistakable firmness in her smile made the writer realize, half with a chill and half with a thrill, that she was not kidding.