Another Administrative Trick

Another very common trick that bosses used during Soviet times was saying to an employee in a severe voice, “I have something very important to discuss with you. Come to my office in 3 days, and I’ll let you know. In the meantime, think about whether there’s anything you want to tell me.”

The employee stews in his juices for three days, imagining all sorts of bad shit and wondering what kind of dirt the boss has on him and expects him to confess. When he finally comes to the boss’s office, he’ll be so much more compliant because he’s been worn out by the wait. The KGB loved this sort of tricks.

When a boss tries to do this to me (and yes, they absolutely do), I show up at his office immediately, saying, “I was passing by and wondered what it was you needed.” I also have a series of tricks to get the boss’s secretary to let me through without an appointment.

“Gosh, I think Jack forgot this folder in my office! I’ll just pop in to see if it’s his.” Or, “Jack is expecting me. It’s not on the schedule? Hmm, weird. I guess he forgot to tell you. He’s so funny sometimes.”

If it’s a legitimate meeting and not a manipulation, they’ll tell you what the meeting will be about. If they don’t, it means they need to cow you into compliance for some reason.

8 thoughts on “Another Administrative Trick

  1. Jesus, I hate this power play. My chair and dean do this, too (schedule to meet without saying why). It’s meant to unsettle, leave the other party (who lacks information) at a disadvantage and more likely to be taken by surprise, act rashly, etc. I make a point of pushing back and asking what it is about as I don’t like to schedule meetings without knowing what will be discussed. They really don’t like that.

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  2. People only get away with this in academics because there are no stipulations to compensate the departments for this theft of services and time.

    If accountability worked in all directions, you wouldn’t have this kind of thing happening.

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    1. That’s why I enjoy being department chair. It’s like a power play every day. How do I anticipate the opponent’s next move? How do I trick him into thinking he’s won while giving me everything I need?

      Strangely, I always sucked at chess. But my sister who’s very sincere and hates these manipulative strategies was a champion chess player.


  3. “Come to my office in 3 days, and I’ll let you know”

    There’s also the option of just not going. If they hunt you down you can say “Oh, I must have forgotten, I remember things like that by what they’re about… so, what’s this all about?” (look polite, sincere and very mildly curious but also busy).

    Poland is very much a on-the-spot country (for getting almost anything done) so I do a lot of “I was just in the neighborhood/passing by and though I’d check up on….”. It’s far more effective than waiting for them to contact you.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Related to a Covidiocy trick: Last May, instead of announcing that masks were no longer required, it was announced that masks would no longer be required starting the following Monday. Sheer power play – nothing changes between now and Monday – if it’s ‘safe’ Monday, its ‘safe’ now – but we are made to wait for some arbitrary time because they CAN make us wait, and get a little thrill from doing so.

    Liked by 2 people

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