I hate power politics. I’m old enough that I’m pretty comfortable with who I am. I’m poor. I’m physically weak. I’m not handsome — I look old for my age. Intellectually I’m reasonable, but certainly not a standout. But I have a fair collection of skills. I don’t doubt that I have a place in the world and that the world, on the whole, values me. So it amuses me when people play power politics with me. They think they are putting me in my place, but all they ever do is just establish that they have some advantage over me in some minor area.
Growing up, like most small boys, I ran into many bigger boys who wanted to establish their credibility by showing that they were stronger. I can’t say that even at the age of six that I thought much of this. I’ve never valued physical strength — certainly not when used in that way. But what are you going to do? I mean we are talking about children here. I’m sure that many of these bullies went on to see the error of their ways and became good human beings.
Others, I’m afraid, did not.
This whole issue of power politics is not usually about physical violence. I’ve been involved with just such a case of power politics. I am currently being taught a lesson. I made the mistake of asserting myself to a bully and now I must be reminded again and again that I have no power. I must show in every way possible that they are the alpha dog. Of course, this is just in their mind. I am involved in a working relationship. I am finishing up the project as quickly as possible and then I will never have anything to do with this person ever again. The power is entirely mine because I have nothing to lose and the publisher does.
Power Politics: the Game Continues
I know I’ve written about this before. But something just happened. A few weeks ago, I received a document that explained the proper format for manuscripts. This is the third book I’ve done for the publisher and the first I’ve ever heard of it, but okay. Then I looked at the document and it was not a standard document that the publisher had been using for years. No, it was one created especially for me: what I must do to prove who the alpha dog is. It was pure power politics.
That was then. Yesterday, after having submitted four sections where everything was all right, the fifth section is balked at: the files must have the date on them! I’d already sent 20 chapters. They had all been accepted and formatted by the publisher. There was nothing in the document about including the date on the file names. No. This is just the publisher deciding that there is a new rule because there has been nothing to yell at me about recently. If dates are wanted, dates it shall be! Oh, the joy of power politics.
Soon I will be gloriously free of all this! But it is like dealing with a 10-year-old schoolyard bully. I guess it does something for them, but to me, it’s pathetic. From my side, this is all about some deeply messed up person trying to claim some power that they don’t feel in their hearts. Power politics is a game that sad and lonely people play. I have very little left to do on this project, but I fully expect a new requirement. Perhaps, “Start all correspondence with, ‘Oh Great and Glorious Publisher Without Whom I Would Be Lost…”
The one good thing about this is that I was totally stressed out before. This time, I just laughed when I got this new requirement. Power politics might make those who engage in them feel better, but any objective viewer can see how pathetic those using them are.
I know you are all probably tired of my whining about this. But I find it interesting that in my day job, I manage a number of writers, and one of my primary jobs is to make their work easier. I’m supposed to make them feel good and valued. It isn’t about me, and making my life easier. Of course, this is the way I have always managed people. Life’s too short to be a jerk or to be around jerks — even ones who will be dead for weeks before anyone notices.