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smallthunder
12-15-2006, 06:19 AM
I'm basing one of the main characters in my new WIP on my former boss, who was a real b*tch -- but, giving the devil her due, she was also remarkably clever in her b*tchiness. Among other things, she had a MFA in "CYA" (i.e. turned blaming others for her mistakes into an absolute art form).

What constantly amazed me about this woman was how she (for the most part) managed to use her dissembling and scheming to advance her career. She knew how to take advantage of the natural disinclinations and/or credulity of most people to advance her in her climb to the top.

That's the aspect I want to carry over to my character/WIP. Unethical, but clever. Totally focused on succeeding in her career, promoting her reputation as being top in her field, without a shred of conscience.

I would love to hear stories from people about ways in which a colleague or boss has managed to:

-- cleverly shift blame for his/her mistakes to someone else;
-- or ways in which a boss/colleague has managed to enhance his/her reputation (esp. at someone else's expense) without any real danger of discovery;
-- or clever put-downs from a boss/colleague-from-hell that stopped someone from questioning his/her abilities or accomplishments;

... and the like.

I am hoping that I can take the essense of another's anecdote and translate it into something appropriate for my book's character.

So, please vent away! Just keep in mind that I am looking for, above all, anecdotes that reflect CLEVERNESS (not merely unethical behavior).

Thanks!

Tiger
12-15-2006, 10:02 AM
Oh, sure... Here are some random thoughts:

1. Your antihero will keep the big boss insulated. "Memo: all issues pertaining to fill-in-the-blank are to be sent to me..." Spend all of the boss's available time in his/her presence

2. Flattery, flattery, flattery, gifts, favors, and flattery

3. They stick to the idea that the truth leads to vulnerability. The weedle and cajole information from everyone while lying through their teeth about themselves. Most people find it difficult to lie to someone's face: the office piranha is usually very good at this, and knows that the average person is relatively defenseless

4. ...Come to think of it: they pretty much depend upon the good natures and the ethics of others--kind of the way a sheepman depends on his flocks for wool...

5. They will wait until they see someone taking the initiative to do something, then, very conspicuosly "order" them to do whatever it is they're already doing...

How's that for a start?

AnnieColleen
12-15-2006, 10:13 AM
An initiative to 'streamline communications' or some such results in certain key people being deleted from email lists or meetings ('does this really need to be copied to everybody? Such a waste of disk space, and no one has time to wade through all this'). Result, someone isn't informed of a change that then affects their performance. Works best if it can be played following the target's own action, e.g., target misses a meeting and, coincidentally, now meeting minutes will no longer be circulated via email.

Snitchcat
12-15-2006, 10:29 AM
Perhaps something here may help:

1. Provide half-explained requests, but insist on having explained them fully when asked for clarification.

2. When sharing one employee with another boss, provide contradictory instructions and demand an outrageously-tight deadline that you [boss] can meet because you have the knowledge already, but allow only marginal negotiation of the deadline. When employee fails to meet said deadline, go to level above and show them that you had to do the work because employee couldn't.

3. Impose your method of working on your employee, then blame employee for failing to do as instructed.

1 - 3 work even better if the boss has a way with words, e.g., using positive statements to embarrass, diss, or otherwise look down on the employee, and all the while showing great support and praise for said employee.

Examples of 'positive' statements, if your boss loathes everything about you, puts on a false face, and believes you are forgetful:

Boss [gentle & sincere]: Four years of freelancing seems to have provided you with a great degree of independence. [meaning: you are incapable of working with others, or under a boss.]

Bosss [pleasant & sincere]: I've explained this several times, what hasn't been clarified yet? [meaning: I've not explained it any of it, but don't you dare accuse me of that.]

Boss [sad & sincere]: While the current level of success is excellent, I think there are some areas that could be further improved. [meaning: I'm about to rip into you for what you've achieved.]

Boss [pleased & sincere]: I'm giving you a raise for what you've done right. [meaning: you've failed to do as instructed 0.1% of the time, but good scapegoats are hard to come by and you're one of the best, because the clients don't actually know you, so I can blame all errors on you, keep their custom and save face.]


ETA:
I'm not sure what your story is about, but if one of these obnoxious bosses turns up, please do something incredibly but plausibly nasty to them. Thanks. =^D

alices
12-15-2006, 10:54 AM
If you really want to do serious research into the mentality of:

-- cleverly shift blame for his/her mistakes to someone else;
-- or ways in which a boss/colleague has managed to enhance his/her reputation (esp. at someone else's expense) without any real danger of discovery;
-- or clever put-downs from a boss/colleague-from-hell that stopped someone from questioning his/her abilities or accomplishments;

... and the like.

Look at politicians not a joke.

Tiger
12-15-2006, 01:03 PM
I just realized that I didn't say anything about special talents... Here's one: they will walk into a room and very quickly put together a working model of everyone's strengths or status relative to each other. They can see, to a certain extent, what motivates people--this not the same as having empathy.

I still believe though that what sets them apart the rest is a kind of narcissism that will allow them to have not a single qualm about the right or wrong in a given situation. Truth, untruth: it's all the same. These creatures will say or do whatever works and spend most of their careers hiding evidence.

...But, every once in awhile you get to see one of them get caught. Then, you may thank the almighty that you're a decent enough person to feel bad about high-fiving the rest of the office for the next several weeks. ;)

KCH
12-15-2006, 06:07 PM
Baisically, what you're describing is a manipulative person. That she is the boss is simply a function of how effective she is at the game. She's likely just as practiced in her "skills" with her personal relationships as well. Family, friends, etc. There's a ton of self-help books and seminars out there addressing the personality type. They generally come loaded with behavioral examples that can give you specific techniques for your character to employ. Hit the life-skills section of the bookstore or try googling phrases like "dealing with difficult people."

Elektra
12-15-2006, 08:29 PM
Forgive me, but this character sounds exactly like the boss in Devil Wears Prada.

Meerkat
12-15-2006, 08:49 PM
One technique your anti-hero could employ is to rely exclusively on verbal instructions, to later claim different details or "forget" altogether...

smallthunder
12-16-2006, 01:03 AM
"They stick to the idea that the truth leads to vulnerability. The weedle and cajole information from everyone while lying through their teeth about themselves. Most people find it difficult to lie to someone's face: the office piranha is usually very good at this, and knows that the average person is relatively defenseless."

Oooh, I like that insight very much! I will definitely keep this point in mind as I write for this new character.

if the boss has a way with words, e.g., using positive statements to embarrass, diss, or otherwise look down on the employee, and all the while showing great support and praise for said employee. ...
Bosss [pleasant & sincere]: I've explained this several times, what hasn't been clarified yet? [meaning: I've not explained it any of it, but don't you dare accuse me of that.]

Yes, my boss did that ALL THE TIME. Thanks for reminding me -- I can definitely adapt this for my character.

"Hit the life-skills section of the bookstore or try googling phrases like "dealing with difficult people."

That's a good idea -- because, as I probably did not make clear, my character is not (in fact) a boss/supervisor in my WIP. She is, however, a career woman -- high-society prostitute, to be exact.

I would love to hear more anecdotes ...

Tiger
12-16-2006, 07:49 AM
Good luck!

I'm dropping my 100th post right here.

Look, ma! I'm into triple digits!