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I almost forgot this very important observation.

I was trying to figure out WHY people never seemed to complain to me. In a previous life, they would complain to my underling, who continually sabotaged and undermined me using their complaints.

I couldn’t seem to figure out how to be the first contact for these complaints, so I could deal with and rectify situations before __my__ superior finding out from my underling.

   M  ^

* = complainer
A = my underling
M = me
B = my boss
^, < > = complaint routing

How could I achieve this picture?


   A  ^

* = complainer
A = my underling
M = me
B = my boss
^, < > = complaint routing

I couldn’t figure it out.

FINALLY yesterday I realized something.

The reason my underling would receive all of the complaints was precisely because he was so critical of me.

When you are viciously critical of your organization, of people above you, people below you, you definitely sit in a dangerous place. Because its very likely everyone around you will jump at the chance to criticize you. There’s a clichee you can use here I know but I’ll spare you.

People who are very critical of things around them continuously imply they know better. That everyone around them is an idiot. And this is a way to rise within an organization very fast. But it actually requires you to be really good at the same time. Otherwise you’ll be given the responsibilities, then fall hard on your face when you realize that criticizing was easy, but actually doing it is hard.

However, the benefit, the unseen benefit of being critical of everything around you is it makes people genuinely feel that you are going to help them if and when something goes wrong and you need someone to talk to, to get help against someone who you feel is wronging you.

I never suspected, guessed or knew that this was the case. But all you have to do to get people to complain to you is to criticize things around you.

It shows you’re comfortable in your own skin. It shows you think and “know better” (though there is a tendency for the most critical people to make it sound like they know better by being so critical, but in reality, they wouldn’t do half a good a job as the person they are criticizing).

It also shows you feel secure in your position, that you are strong and powerful.

If you don’t feel secure in your position, then don’t criticize. Because you can’t.

Please DO NOT criticize in a rat-like, quiet, undermining kind of way. That just makes you a rat.

You can criticize in a few ways. There’s the positive, constructive criticism, which you make a habit of just dropping on a consistent basis, every time you make an observation. This is the hardest type, obviously, because it actually requires you to think and not just bash. It sounds like, “You know it would be better if we …” or, “You know, it would be more efficient if they … I’ll let them know about that.” And then you actually do, and your suggestions actually get implemented because they are actually good.

^ This is actually probably the formula for general success. But anyway. This is a friendly, productive criticism.

If you can’t do that, then another way to criticize is to pick on minor things, that don’t really mean anything, and that nobody’s going to bother to change, just to poke fun at stuff. Keep in mind that this can make you appear annoying, naggy and petty at worst. But it can be fun to do.

And finally, the last way to criticize. I call this Leslie-style, after a coworker Leslie.

Right now there’s somebody in my office, Leslie, who is continually critical of everyone and everything around her. She blows things out of proportion, she makes lots of noise and racket about every misplaced paperclip, ripped corner and misplaced envelope.

She makes the absolutely biggest deal out of everything she can. She is an opportunist when it comes to trouble, getting someone burned, giving just about anyone a hard time. A firestarter, if you will, she seems to fight any and everyone on a continuous basis. It seems to be what makes life worth living to her. Her friend one day, she’ll be your opponent the next, then your friend again. Working with her is exhausting, because you always have to be on guard, but at the same time, you always want to hear about what/who she’s going to complain about today.

So that’s the thing. Since she is like a little mercenary, in a way, when when something goes wrong and you need to tell someone, because you want them to do something to help, guess who comes to mind?

BIG LESLIE. Yes, BIG BIG Leslie with her big mouth and her big complaints and her big deals. I never realized this, but caught in a moment of upset, slight desperation, feeling wronged, need-someone-to-tell-because-you-think-they-will-do-something-about-it, you go to the person with the biggest mouth. Because effectively, you know its like going to a PA system. Everyone will hear about it.

With people like big Leslie, lightly dropping information about a coworker’s misconduct is like sprinkling salt and pepper on their legs. Leslie is going to bite them off.


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