Absurd employees often make for absurd business
In debate there is a technique referred to as reductio ad absurdum. It means to reduce your opponents argument to its most absurd level.Sometimes your opponent does this quite well to his own argument all by himself. I have witnessed this phenomenon countless times within the corporate culture, where the definition of professionalism is often made up or changed to suit the whim of the ego in charge, and a department director or GM makes a complete fool of him or herself, and actually becomes a liability to the business. Once, in a meeting, the question was asked, Do you think your employer is fair? Every one else in the meeting knew perfectly well the particular employee they were talking to was in fact being treated unfairly, possibly illegally, by his employer. The evidence on the table was clear that the employer had made a serious mistake. The Grand Inquisitor in this case actually insisted that it is OK for employers to treat employees unfairly because life itself is unfair. He had the audacity to assert gas prices and natural disasters prove life is unfair so, therefore, it is OK for employers to be unfair. As a matter of fact, it should be expected. Employees just have to live with it. His eyes bulged and his nose began to flair. He fired his rhetorical nonsense at the innocent employee without letting him answer, as if he was a complete moron who didnt understand English. The way this guy was carrying on you would think he was drunk, but he wasnt. He was sober as a mule. His neck twitched so much it seemed he was going to give himself whiplash. His voice intensified. Unassociated ideas burst forth from the short circuits of his brain. The pounding of the fist on the table commenced and his vicious tone was clear evidence he had a personal bias against the employee, and was completely indifferent to the truth of the issue at hand. Conflict resolution became conflict as a solution.Using reductio ad absurdum, his world-gone-mad hypothesis must mean its OK for employees to be unfair to their employers as well. But, one would be giving his odd theory undue credit to suggest it was based on any classical academic study or logical thought. The fact is, life is perfectly fair. There is nothing unfair about it. We have control over some things. We cant control earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados. These things are neither fair nor unfair, they just are. How do they excuse unjust human behavior?We have control over how we treat others. There is never a good excuse to treat another unfairly, not in this day and age, and certainly not in this country. The right way to treat people is no secret. Ignorance of the way is no excuse. If life is unfair, our own children should be taught more harshly. When your child breaks his arm, just say, Shut up buddy boy. Quit crying like a baby. Might not work as good as it did before but it will heal up eventually on its own. Might be a little crooked though.Dont take him to the doctor. Hell never learn how unfair life really is if you actually do the right thing for him. We always have the choice to treat others fairly. Or, we can be a mindless natural disaster and surrender our moral conscience to corporate indifference and the misuse of power, like a spineless sycophant and coward, caring about nothing but his own skin.You would expect people in positions of authority these days to be a little more enlightened than an orangutan. Yet, too often, professionals resort to lies, harassment and anger, hiding behind their position, and get away with it. But not always.By the way, the employee mentioned above made his case and the action against him was reversed. As for the reductio ad absurdum, he couldnt have done it better himself.Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, experienced ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.
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