Saturday, January 28, 2017

Is backstabbing a fundamental part of capitalism? (It seems that "The 48 Laws of Power" are a very effective set of tools that most mediocre minded people follow to dishonorable success, is this true? Are only a small percentage of entrepreneurs fair?)

I haven't read the book and can't comment on it. And I really can't say what percentage of entrepreneurs can be described as 'fair', because I try to deal only with those who are fair to me, deal only if I have to with those who aren't (and watch them), and don't keep a count.
Image result for j. r. ewing
But let me share a secret with you. Capitalism is about making money, by either creating and offering something of value that people are willing to pay for, or by connecting people and setting up trade in a more efficient way that the participants are willing to pay for. It's not about power. It's not about manipulation, domination, and control. It's not about getting into bitch fights with other companies (particularly competitors) or your co-workers at the office, and 'ruining' them or 'destroying' them, as depicted on the Dallas TV series from the '80's (the J. R. Ewing character was quite the poster child for that) and several other sitcoms that have come and gone on prime time since. (Yes, I said 'sitcoms'. Well, I got a good laugh out of some of the stuff that happens in them.). It's not about politics, and it's certainly not about crappy politics, brownnosing and backstabbing. You see stuff like that frequently. But it's not what capitalism, or 'advancing in your career' if you're an 'intermural' player, is all about.

Some level of power - in the sense of being able to get things done, and do what you say you're going to do, if you want to define it correctly so that it's a healthy thing - is essential. Taking care to protect yourself from the local business bullies and scam artists, or people who would cheat you or take advantage of you, is important. And, sadly, in many workplaces, you need to protect yourself from inter-office treachery and be vigilant for it.
Relationships are essential. But anyone with half a brain knows that it's best to cultivate, nurture, and care for those relationships; not look for opportunities to do the other guy in. Competition beyond a certain level is unhealthy. Even the Mob knows this; and while they're not shy about using intimidation and even force, they try to get things done without force, or without sending a hit man or legbreaker, when they can. Drawing the attention of federal agents or police detectives is a distraction from things they do that do make money.
Cooperation works better. If you're one of a hundred, a thousand, however many people who buys something from me every week, on which I can make a profit for myself of ten, twenty, maybe fifty bucks; then I'm much better off preserving my relationship with you and trying to keep the both of us happy with that arrangement, than I would be screwing you out of a few hundred bucks the first time I think I can get away with it, and kicking your butt down the road.
Backstabbing, 'doing in' the other guy, destructive competition - like the intramural version that shows up as crappy workplace politics within a single company or workplace - is something you see, on TV and in books and movies, depicted as much, if not most, of what people do in an office or workplace. That's just drama, it's what sells TV programs, books and movies. Scenes of Stabler and Benson spending three or four hours filling out reports, waiting to be called to testify in court, or peaceably engaged in the less 'exciting' parts of their job just never seem to make it into the one-hour final cut of Law and Order SVU episodes.
Such sick behavior is also all too frequently seen as an essential element or characteristic of work or business, something that's inevitably going to be there, like ants at a picnic, and it has to be accepted as 'normal' at some level: there's nothing anyone can do about it. Accordingly, (probably because everyone's experienced it in real life at least once) so many people confuse the drama with reality that yes, there are business, career and self-improvement books on the market about how to manage such behavior, and 'work' it in your favor, and become 'expert' at it, like it's actually a valuable, or even desirable, job skill or business skill that leads to what some sick individuals might define as 'success'.
But it's really not. Like bullying in the schools, or teenage rebellion, it's not even 'normal' in the sense that we "have to" live with it or accept it at some level. After all, yes, it does happen and we have to deal with it from time to time when it occurs; but no, it's not something we want. (Indeed, the world of work, and business, would work just fine without any of it at all, perhaps even better . . . And if I see someone trying to bring that crap into my company, I assure you, I'll get a crosshair on them, and you won't be seeing too much more of them.)
A good company won't put up with it, does not use or rely upon it in its dealings with others (whether counterdependent customers or competitors), and avoids dealing with others who do. A really good company will avoid getting sucked in to it at all, even if someone tries it with them. A good company won't put up with it in the workplace, will know and watch for the signs, step on it nice and hard when it occurs between employees and staff (a really good company will simply recognize, isolate and neutralize it with little to no muss nor fuss), and take note of who they suspect might be instigating it.
Because such behavior actually gets in the way of making money. Indeed, more often than not, it costs money that doesn't bring a return. Likewise, a hostile or uncomfortable work environment in the office or workplace when power tripping, brownnosing and backstabbing, and destructive or unhealthy interpersonal competition and relationships occurs among employees or staff is disruptive of the mission of the company (again, that being to do what it does to make money), causes companies to lose truly valuable employees who won't have it around them to companies where those employees don't have to put up with it, and brings down lost time and litigation costs.
Thus, it's anything but what capitalism is about.
Originally appeared on Quora

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