Bullies do exist after High School. Even worse – they seem to grow teeth the size of sabres on steroids in the corporate world. As a litigation lawyer of some 20-years, I have developed a system to beat these bullies. Truer words may never have been spoken than the advice that I received from a client who told me, upon commencement of my own law practice, ‘Welcome to the jungle’.
In this corporate jungle, bullies seek to dominate their prey by instilling fear. A recent encounter when I beat the bully occurred in a high-level meeting that I had with the other party (let’s call him John).
Many people would perceive John, with all his bluster, to be strong and, indeed, impregnable. But, just like all humans, John has vulnerabilities. In accordance with the wisdom of Sun Tzu in the “Art of War”, I just had to determine those vulnerabilities (knowledge is power), and then attack them with my greatest strength.
I observed that John is a perfectionist with a fragile ego. I determined that, therefore, given the right probing, John’s emotions would likely overwhelm his intelligence. John would then undermine his own credibility and, inevitably sink his own boat, without me needing to fire much of a shot.
What did I do? I gently probed John, subtly undermined his ego in front of others whom he believed to be inferior. Then – I just let John weave his own magic whilst I, and my client, enjoyed the show and reaped the rewards.
This victory demonstrates the next step of the fundamental maxim from Sun Tzu in the “Art of War”, after knowing, and winning the battle over, oneself. In this instance with John, it was my knowledge of the ‘enemy’ – and the exploitation of his vulnerabilities - that led to our success.