MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

May 25, 2009

Rules of Engagement (or, How to Fight Fair?)

If I live to be 100 this is something I fear I will never learn or understand: How to fight "fair". Or, to put it another way, the rules of being an asshole.

We've all seen it happen in work (and life). Someone will blow up in anger. They will yell, scream, profane, say some incredibly hurtful and insulting things, even throw stuff around. And – Nothing happens. No punishment for acting unprofessional.

Back when I started my so-called working career there was at least the pretense of professionalism when it came to such conflict:

You never yelled at someone openly – take them into a closed office.
You never yelled at someone on a conference call or at a group meeting.
You never used 4 letter words in the open (behind closed doors only).

And you certainly word never say such things in an email or memo! (if only for legal reasons too)
To be sure, some fields/industries always had this open combat-like atmosphere. Usually very high pressure, high stacks, potentially high paying jobs like sales. But for more backoffice and non-commissioned/big bonus jobs there at least was the pretense of trying to keep a civil image.

I don't know where or when but it all changed. Now yelling, screaming, cursing, etc is SOP in many offices. Some say it's the "South Park" society we live in. Aren't we supposed to at least try to act professional?

But, more to the point of this article, over the years it has become clear to me there are "rules" of how to fight. Boundaries and lines that you can and cannot cross when acting like a dick to your co-workers (and people in general).

What are these boundaries and lines? I have no idea!

Over my working career spanning 25+ years I have had managers, co-workers, customers (you kind of expect it from them), and even vendors and consultants say some of the DARNDEST and most OUTRAGEOUS things to me! And then I'm told it's MY fault. Talk about blame the victim!!

Or, when I have made a complaint about being treated in such a manner I'm told things like:

"Well, you have to understand that Joe is under a lot of stress with this project."
"John is having some problems at home too."
"That's the way Bob is."
"Susan comes from this-that background where that's how you get things done."

What the hell are these crap excuses?!

Who doesn't have stress or problems in life. And if that's the way Bob is, tell him to change! So if I was an asshole too would you say "That's just the way MasterPo is?"

Meanwhile, if I so much as raise my voice about a whisper or give a one-two word email response I'm called on the floor for being argumentative, unprofessional, crude/rude, and basically all that is bad in the world.

I don't get it.

Did I miss a memo that listed the rules?
Did I miss a presentation where these rules were gone over?

Can someone send me the notes for this?

ps- I know the cartoon doesn't really play into the article but I like it.

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