As I mentioned in last week’s blog, the kind of negative social pressures so many of us are faced with today as office politics are begun and perpetrated by persons lacking real personal power and self-control. Two basic rules of human interaction that apply here are: 1.All bullies are cowards at heart 2. People who are controlling of others are in desperate need of self-control. These two truths apply equally to both men and women. The folks who seem to be exercising POWER over others in the office mayhem are in fact very small powerless people who seek external displays of power and control over others in order to offset their own feelings of true powerlessness, lack of control, and acute lack of courage to act in positive productive ways.
Sad but true, the word POWER has been twisted to mean its exact opposite in most folk’s mind. True power is and has always been the personal power of wisdom and compassion. It is manifested strictly as the drive to empower others. Look around your office. Those people who still dare to be kind, to genuinely care, and to support others, THOSE are your people of TRUE POWER. No wonder they are the persons most frequently attacked, ridiculed, or taken advantage of. True power has always infuriated the truly powerless.
As I’ve mentioned this applies equally to men and women, but the behavior of dis-empowered men is different from that of dis-empowered women. Women tend to get manipulative, and often resort to using social leverage like the office grapevine to control others. Men tend toward a more frontal and territorial attack. Simply put men, more than women see their job as part of their actual identity & man hood. So any sense of threat makes the fight much more viscious, territorial and domineering. Physical confrontations may actually occur…or the perpetrators may go for the victims family, starting affairs with the victims wives or girlfriends. The victims may get repeatedly sent out of town on jobs as a way to hurt his family & his relationship with his partner. There will be physical battles over office space as territory: who gets the office and who gets the cubical? Who gets the windows? Who is left near the toilets? The battle may be psychological in terms of the loading-on of more work or more disagreeable assignments.
In the Man’s world there also exists another disturbing reality: The Victim whose wife or partner has gotten sucked into the office power-play and chooses to have that affair does so because of Her Man’s cowardice. The male victim needs to realize that he has helped to create that situation because he communicated to wife – “I am powerless”. Women are instinctively attracted to men of power more so than appearance. Handle it at work…do not bring it home.
Now, that does NOT mean you shouldn’t talk with your wife about the problem. Just don’t KEEP talking about it without taking appropriate action. And most importantly DO NOT bring your powerless feelings home and become domineering or controlling toward your woman or your children. My man has actually seen wives flirting with their husband’s managers & even agreeing to meet “for coffee”in such situations. Men, DO NOT ask or expect your wives to “fix” the problem for you – take action or find a new place to work. If you value your wife/partner DO NOT put her in the position of observing your cowardice for long. Even a very good-hearted loyal woman will become disenchanted and disengaged with you if you display this lack of personal power.
Taking action for men-on-men office politics is different from what I described last week regarding female bullies in the office. To take action, a man can choose to empower another man by the “buddy” system too. The action is not verbal and most decidedly NOT to praise him or his work to a superior. (For the uninitiated that kind of “praise” is a method of diminishing and patronizing a man. DON’T go there!) A certain show of solidarity can be created among men by parallel activities of teamwork. This could be a shared beer and sports talk after work, or it could be actual collaboration on a project. Just keep it real. Men are highly sensitive to patronizing or “fixing” by others. Just give the dis-empowered man in question the opportunity to display his real strengths and find some genuine sense of satisfaction.
The other man approved method is to confront the perpetrator with a tenacious display of self-empowerment. Use your best judgment and stop short of any legal act of insubordination, guys. But the bare truth here is many men like and respect a man who stands his own ground and returns force with force. A man also has a pretty good chance of success using the corporate structure, where a woman usually doesn’t. Go to your bully’s boss and insist on your rights after standing up to the bully in your best workplace appropriate way.
There, my men, is where solutions end. If one of these male-approved actions does not bring your bullying boss back to his true power, its time to look for alternative employment. Sad to say, but these workplace bullies are sometimes created by the corporate structure. The bullying may be the
corporate approved method of management and could well be reinforced on up the chain of command. Or your bullying boss may be feeling dis-empowered on the home-front. If a man’s recent divorce or lack of success with women generally is what has dis-empowered him, a few opportunities for team-building or confrontation with other men (like those above) could help him find his power again. If that doesn’t work and the chain-of-command won’t help put things right, you need to move on to a new workplace.
Switching jobs is NOT a cop-out, believe me! Job hunting is an act of courage and empowerment in the best of times. In these hard economic times, it is an act of fierce cowboy independence and manliness. Next week, I’ll share my best strategies for biting that bullet! Till then gather your courage from within by chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” (see sgi-usa.org) and bolstering your TRUE power by reaching within yourself.
Keep the faith, Men! Keep YOUR power clean and REAL!