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What’s worse than rape? Betrayal (The General’s Daughter).

 I was watching a WWII movie called “The Guns of Navarone,” in which a presumed group member (actually a German spy) was shot when the resistance discovered her true identity.

Modern day spies are among us. Espionage, sabotage, and devious acts occur (within companies) when individuals choose to undermine their co-workers. Instead of discussing an issue with their peers, they trot into the boss’s (or another manager’s) office and unload.  

Vonk (1998) terms this phenomenon “the slime effect,” in which employees behave themselves by “licking upward, kicking downward.” These individuals (typically lacking in technical skills or suffering from a lackluster self-image) try to compensate by taking potshots at their peers. It’s a symbiotic relationship – the manager in charge receives “insider information,” and the informant in turn receives protection and a privileged position.

Employees of course don’t tattle unless they wish to cut people off at the knees. In an unethical culture, slime bags have particular value because they’re shameless. They’re crafty souls who massage their ego on the backs of their peers.

Bureaucracy is premised on the dual notions of dominance and subservience. Supervisors dominate through aggression, while subordinates mitigate the aggressive dominance of superiors through compliance and selling out team members. 

The extrapolation is that we should deal with coworkers one on one – instead of shopping them to our advantage.

Below are some characteristics of “shoppers.”  They

  • Assume an uncomfortable degree of informality, or “bossiness.”
  • Let other people know they’re in close contact with your manager.
  • Ignore you when speaking with higher ups.
  • Try to make you look incompetent.
  • Behave in a manner which is unsupportive in meetings.
  • Take sides against you, regardless of the subject.
  • Discredit your contributions.
  • Aren’t people you can trust.
  • Make it clear they’re out for themselves.

Some spiritualists theorized how different the world of work would be if our unitive nature were incited. In Rediscovering the Soul of Business Bleskan (1995) explains what a difference love made active in the workplace would make. If instead of 150-3000 clawing competitors, if we had the same amount supporting, soothing, and engendering our personal welfare we would be able to accomplish the unimaginable. 



 Bleskan, M.  (1995). Soul transformation:  Learning from our dreams. In rediscovering the soul of business: A renaissance of values, B. Defoore & J. Kenasch (Eds), pp. 8-31. San Francisco, CA:  Sterling & Stone, Inc.

Vonk, R.  (1998). The slime effect:  Suspicion and dislike of likeable behavior toward superiors.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 849-864.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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