A little S&M on the job can take you a long way

  1. No whips or chains are needed, but women with fantasies of getting ahead can put role-playing to smart use, a new book suggests MARJO JOHNE Special to The Globe and Mail
    Wednesday, April 25, 2007

    Her co-worker was being bad again, so Lisa Robyn set out to punish him.
    Tired of his habit of keeping work-related problems a secret -- and then letting everyone else clean up his mess -- Ms. Robyn shamed him into 'fessing up at the next meeting.
    Exposed and penitent, her colleague fell to his knees in front of everyone, and begged Ms. Robyn's forgiveness.
    "That kneeling part made me laugh, because he was actually just joking," Ms. Robyn recalls. "But the power -- the feeling that I had complete domination over him -- that was real."
    Ladies, say hello to the corporate dominatrix.
    It doesn't require whips, chains or leather boots, but if you're harbouring fantasies about getting ahead in your career, it may be time to assume the position of corporate dominatrix, and engage in a little workplace S&M, argues Ms. Robyn, the author of a new book called The Corporate Dominatrix: Six Roles to Play to Get Your Way at Work.
    Beneath the suits and civilities, workplaces really are dens of sadomasochism, where bosses and workers unwittingly act out three basic S&M roles: dominants, submissives and switchables, who move back and forth between the first two roles, Ms. Robyn says.
    The result of these three groups of players interacting daily in the workplace is a constant surge of pleasure and pain, she says.
    For instance, think back to the last time your boss called you in for your annual spanking -- err, performance review.
    Did he start sadistically by rhyming off all of the mistakes you made last year, only to tell you in the end that you did a great job over all and deserve a generous raise? And did you come out of that meeting feeling incredibly good, and thinking what a great chap that boss of yours is?
    Yup, S&M.
    Even the words people use at work suggest the sadomasochistic dynamic. Ms. Robyn recalls a former boss suggesting her work life would improve dramatically if she simply "surrendered" to authority -- a remark that sparked the idea for her book.
    "People say things like 'they're slaving away at their jobs,' " says Ms. Robyn, who researched her book by spending time with professional dominatrices. "There's an undeniable pleasure-pain component in the workplace that makes the connection to sadomasochism a fair one."
    To survive and succeed in this command-and-control environment, women need to arm themselves with the psychology-based tools of the professional dominatrix, Ms. Robyn says.
    But that doesn't necessarily mean putting on the leather and cracking the whip. Like the professional dominatrix, the corporate dominatrix plays different roles to achieve desired outcomes.
    "A professional dominatrix assumes different roles to help other people realize their fantasies," Ms. Robyn explains. "A corporate dominatrix, on the other hand, role-plays to realize her own fantasy, whether that's to become head of a department or president of a company."
    Ms. Robyn has identified six roles for the corporate dominatrix. Most women will identify with at least one of them, Ms. Robyn says, but the trick is to pick the right role for the right situation.
    The goddess
    Who she is: The dominatrix as goddess is confident, independent and thrives on the admiration of others.
    While some women may be too modest or shy to acknowledge praise, the goddess knows how to accept the worship of her superiors and peers.
    She takes the high road in tough situations, often choosing to respond to hostile co-workers with composed indifference.
    The goddess is magnanimous, granting favours without expecting repayment -- although she inevitably gets repaid, because people naturally want to lay offerings at her feet.
    When to play goddess: The confident and unflappable nature of the goddess can be a godsend in situations where your abilities are thrown into question.
    For instance, say a co-worker is trying to make his star brighter by tarnishing yours. Instead of getting defensive, get your inner goddess to tell everyone on the team, in a calm and dignified manner, how you've contributed to the department. And then thank your jealous co-worker sincerely for reminding you of the importance of blowing your own horn every once in a while.
    The queen
    Who she is: The queen rules with impunity. Forget about pussyfooting around your subordinates; when you play queen, you should have no problem using your position to get what you want.
    But like a true monarch, you are also keenly aware of the organizational hierarchy and know that management has power over you. You also know that it's best to rule with a velvet glove instead of an iron fist.
    As queen, you don't micro-manage or allow yourself to get bogged down in administrative details. Instead, you focus on the big picture and let someone else sweat the small stuff.
    When to play queen: The queen rules best in times of great change, when it seems like no one else but you can see the big picture.
    Say you've just announced plans to introduce a new project management system in your department. You know that, in the long run, the new system will save time and money but your subordinates insist it will slow down their productivity.
    Play the regal role: Pull rank and tell your team to accept the change. Period. (Although as a fair and credible ruler, you may want to explain the strategic thinking behind this decision).
  2. The governess
    Who she is: The governess is a strict teacher who expects everyone to be on their best behaviour.
    She's the one who can silence trouble-makers with a steely glare and who makes sure meetings run on time and projects on schedule.
    The governess is the perfect supervisor or project manager -- the efficient right hand who assigns tasks, troubleshoots faulty systems and remembers the birthdays and anniversaries of everyone on her team.
    Want to be the go-to person in your company? Be a governess. But keep in mind that the governess doesn't just do, she also teaches. If you're going to take on the governess role, be prepared to be a mentor to your colleagues.
    When to play governess: Sometimes you just need to give someone a lesson in manners -- and who better to teach that lesson than the governess? For instance, is there a sadist at work who enjoys tormenting you and other co-workers by making off-colour remarks? Channel Deborah Kerr in The King and I and reprimand this person for lacking good manners.
    The Amazon
    Who she is: The Amazon knows how to use coercive power and manipulation to get her way. But she operates on the principle that it's good to "use might, but only when you're in the right."
    Even the meekest woman can become an Amazon warrior when she knows she's got a great idea worth fighting for. However, the Amazon is by no means stubborn.
    If Plan A doesn't work, she's happy to move on to Plan B, as long the outcome stays the same.
    When to play Amazon: Can't seem to get ahead at work even though you're doing a great job and playing by all the rules? You may need the Amazon to shake things up in the office.
    Ms. Robyn recounts the story of "Abbey," a senior executive for a financial firm who was passed over for a promotion she had long been promised.
    Instead of being stoic about it, Abbey called her boss and told her she wasn't coming back to work unless she was given the promotion. Her boss leaned on upper management and Abbey eventually got a fancier job title.
    The nurse
    Who she is: The nurse is the workplace healer, providing moral support and soothing bruised egos. She's a natural team player and peace maker, who diffuses tense moments in meetings and calms nerves in the midst of a downsizing campaign.
    To play the nurse role, you need to be able to step back from a crisis and review the situation with clinical detachment. A caveat: while it's good to tend to your team, make sure you're not neglecting your own interests.
    When to play nurse: When other people's personal problems start becoming a workplace problem, then it's time to put on your candy stripes. Ms. Robyn tells the story of one textile firm, where two designers who were competing for the same client were creating tension in the office. Their boss, Stacy, sent each of them a dinner invitation for the same night -- and then didn't show up, leaving the two to face each other. The designers made up over dinner, to the relief of everyone at the office.
    The schoolgirl
    Who she is: Childlike and submissive, the schoolgirl defers to authority and knows when and how to stroke the egos of subordinates or peers to get what she wants from them.
    But while she may seem subservient, the schoolgirl is far from powerless. Quite the opposite: She uses her obedience to gain power. Think of Anne Hathaway's character in The Devil Wears Prada, who caters to her boss's every whim knowing that her lowly position is a actually a gateway to greater things.
    When to play schoolgirl: Turning on the schoolgirl charm can work wonders with overbearing managers or colleagues, who can charge like bulls when you resist them but become putty in your hands when you submit to them -- or at least pretend to submit.
    Ms. Robyn tells of Amy, an on-line marketing manager with a nitpicky boss. Whenever Amy tried to explain her actions to her boss, he would get angry.
    So she decided to stop explaining and instead began asking him how he liked things done. As soon as she did this, her boss stopped picking on her and started sharing his business know-how.
    By switching between these roles as the situation warrants, women can gain greater control in the workplace and of their careers, Ms. Robyn says.
    She acknowledges that role-playing may not be easy for some people, "but it gets easier over time, to the point where you're able to make the decision to switch to a certain mistress archetype in a split-second."
  3. I am re-reading this book.

    I have a difficult subordinate on my job. Her time management is NOT effective, she tells white lies, her work does not reflect what her resume says and she does not effectively communicate. It is a matter of time before we dismiss her but in the meantime - I find that she attempts to engage me in a power struggle (and I am her supervisor).

    This book is really amazing and gives me such invaluable information.
  4. trying to tell us something cait? :lol:
  5. ^^ Ha ha.

    I don't even remember posting this.
  6. :hugs:
  7. It's all good, dude.

    (It's a fascinating article, though. This looks like something I would post. Except, you know, not in its entirety.)

  8. :graucho: