Five genius tactics that will cause your office nemesis to commit career suicide. The first principle of office warfare is to avoid open aggression. Battle your enemy using the fine art of one-upmanship: Find his weaknesses and subtly push his emotional buttons, repeatedly. Do it correctly and your rival will overreact and self-destruct in the process.
Charmers carry a lot of insecurities. If this is your target, make an offhand comment that implies a sag in his popularity. Tell him that the boss has taken a real liking to a newcomer on the scene, adding something like, You mean you werent invited to the meeting in the big mans office? That new guy killed it. Now your target will hang himself with attempts to regain favor.
Moments before his presentation and with seemingly good intentions, ask your target if hes aware of the 18-minute wall after which most people lose interest (knowing full well hell be up there much longer). Then call attention to a stranger in the audience. Whos that guysomeone from corporate? Looks important. Youve officially put him off his game.
Your target acts like a saint, but under the surface hes a raging dick. Your goal, then, is to get him to reveal his true nature. See to it that a number of his important documents dont come through. Your target will think his underlings arent doing their jobs, and when word spreads that the boss isnt happy (a gospel youll help spread), a rampage will ensue.
If youre dealing with an arrogant know-it-all who thinks he has all the answers, try imitating him. In other words, let him overhear you repeating his ideas to others and in front of your bossascribing every last syllable, of course, to Mr. Infallible. The catch? You alter his words ever so slightly. Is it parody? Your target cant be sure, and hell start to question everything.
Is your rival crafty and two-faced? Then play it right back at him. With a genuine smile, offer to help him on an important project. Once hes set up, knock him down with sabotage: No help is forthcoming when he really needs it, you steal the credit, etc. After all, he does these sorts of things to everybody else so when he finds himself on the other side, hell go berserk.
To rise to the top of the office hierarchy, you must use coworkers as mere stepping stones. But one beast, the "psychotic boss," doesn't fit this scheme. Since you will never please him or win him over, simply remove him from your path. This person thrives on the anger and emotion you experience in his presence, so deny him this power by remaining calm and patient. Constantly tell yourself that the psycho will get fired or kicked upstairs soon enough. If he creeps into your thoughts, find an activity to distract yourself.
Being overly submissive might make this guy even more unreasonable. If you must obey irrational orders, do it on your own terms. For example, if he tells you to FedEx a report, give him a prompt excuse for why you'll have to send it later. Little displays of defiance can go a long way. Your coworkers might be unaware of your boss' dark side. But rather than complaining, start collecting careful records of his every misdeed. Save those fanatical e-mails, voice mails, and sticky notes. It might enrage you to keep this stuff around, but you can use it later to incriminate him.
Never let a psychotic boss isolate you. Instead of being a victim, volunteer for tasks in other departments in an attempt to get in the good graces of other superiors. Not only will this keep you sane and distracted; it will also bring you one step closer to delivering the final death blow. If you bide your time, this lunatic will inevitably fly off the handle and do something irrevocably wrong. When it happens, kick him while he's down by revealing your organized file to the proper authorities. With a little luck, he'll be out of your way and you can resume your climb to the top.
Tired of wimpy, good-things-come-to-those-who-wait career advice? The time has come, fellow wage slave, to stop thinking of your work as a job and start treating it like a secret war. We've nabbed seven no-fail strategies from the CIA, masters of taking what they want by any means necessary. If you think sabotage and propaganda tactics aren't appropriate for the workplace, that's where you're wrong. As you use them to rise through the ranks, double your salary, win powerful friends and lay waste to all your so-called competitors, just remember: You didn't read it here.
When you're aiming for the top, you've got to watch out for treachery from below. But how do you make sure that the people who work for you are being honest? By using the CIA's devilishly smart interrogation technique, that's how. The secret of kinesic interviewing is explained in "Counterintelligence Interrogation," a 1963 CIA report. "The problem of overcoming the resistance of an uncooperative interrogatee," says the report, "is essentially a problem of inducing regression to a level at which resistance can no longer be sustained."
According to the Internet crackpots who track the CIA's nefarious deeds, the company's kinesic interviewing involves reading nonverbal cues that say more than the interviewee wants to say. Here's one example you can test in the office today: People's eyes tend to stray in a particular direction whenever they're remembering something (accessing memory), and in a different direction when they're making something up (accessing creativity, which is stored in a different part of the brain). To find out if an interviewee's being honest, first ask a few simple questions that access either memory ("What did you have for dinner last night?") or creativity ("How did it taste?"); then watch where his eyes go. Two or three questions of each type should suffice to establish a solid rule of thumb, such as, "When he's remembering, he looks up and to the right; when he's using creativity, he looks at the table." Now you've got a valuable tool: Ask him any question that should involve memory ("Where were you for the 10 o'clock meeting?"), and if his eyes indicate he's being creative, pounce. You don't want to employ someone who's as sneaky as you, right?
How do you kneecap a competitor's chances while keeping your disarming nice-guy reputation? Easy. Find excuses to sit in on small meetings that include both him and the boss, and let the subliminal sabotage begin. Operant conditioning, the technique by which you'll accomplish this, was first described in a 1958 report entitled "The Operational Use of Subliminal Perception" from the now-declassified CIA in-house journal Studies in Intelligence. "This is the unconscious reaction of an individual's behavior to certain outside stimulus," says the report. Put simply, you're first going to make the unsuspecting fool trust you-and then you're going to infiltrate his mind and start planting the seeds of destruction.
You're in a unique position to feed the poor sap false subliminal information. Smile, nod or say, "Right" whenever he has said something you know your boss won't like; it'll encourage him to spout further and dig himself into an even deeper hole. Likewise, greet his good ideas with a slight frown and stony silence, and he'll clam up or, better yet, backtrack. Unscrupulous? Sure, but are you playing to win or not?
When a fellow employee screws up, don't pussyfoot around-give him a short, sharp shock by reaming him in public. The unwritten rule that says reprimands should happen in private will amplify his misdemeanor into a crime: If it weren't such a big deal, why the hell would you embarrass him like this? As a bonus, you'll start to get a company-wide reputation for having a low tolerance for ineptitude-and that marks you as management material. "I believe the Kennedy assassination was purposely done in public," claims CIA conspiracy theorist Walter H. Bower. "I understand from several ex-agents that attempts were made to kill him in private, but that it was eventually decided to show the enemy-the intelligence communities of the world and opposition groups within America-that the CIA were as ruthless as hell. They were saying: ‘See? We can kill Kennedy. We can kill anybody!'" So next time you need to discipline a member of your staff, do it in public, do it loudly and make any threat you know you can keep. If necessary, you can even apologize to him later-in private-without damaging your new kick-ass reputation.
Want everyone to think you're a player, even though you rarely get your butt off the bench? The CIA might be able to help you here, too. The trick is to create your own hype with positive propaganda. You won't want to go to the trouble of placing "your guy" at the heart of major news-gathering sources like CBS, Time and Fortune magazines and The New York Times, as some sources believe the CIA has done for the last 50 years, with an infiltration of the media known as Operation Mockingbird. But there's a lot of sneaky stuff you can do to boost your own image. Does your industry have a trade press? Find a pal-in-the-business patsy to feed them positive stories about you. Does your company attend conferences or trade fairs? Always go, press the flesh and never take off your name tag.
If you're really ambitious, enlist a trustworthy buddy in the office to try logrolling, in which you and he make a secret pact to subtly advance each other's causes. If you're not prepared to go that far (or to take on a partner in crime), at least claim credit for everything you credibly can. If you've brought in new business, make sure management knows it's you they should be patting on the back. Don't be afraid of seeming egotistical: If they're discussing your arrogance, they're also discussing your achievements, and quite often a promotion or plum assignment is bestowed upon the person whose name is on everyone's lips.
When you have to reprimand one of your people, you don't want a discussion to ensue-you want abject fear. So how do you express your disappointment, nip his rebuttal in the bud and hustle him back to the salt mines with a spring in his step? These CIA-endorsed tips stem the tide of employee confrontation by having you subliminally establishing yourself as an unchallengeable alpha male. "When you're making what's called the Confrontation Statement-e.g., ‘Your work hasn't been up to scratch lately,' or ‘I'm concerned that your mind's not on the job'-make sure that the person's sitting down and you're standing over him with your legs apart. This suggests dominance," according to one expert who chooses to remain underground. "Hold your hands about waist high and about body-width apart, and don't mumble-you'll want to appear as confident as you possibly can." It takes an incredibly strong will to overcome your high-ground advantage. Expect the craven fool to mumble his pathetic apology, slink off and spread your growing reputation as a real ball buster.
It's sad, but things are tight at the top. And while we'd never advise you to actually bump off the Big Guy, you could learn something from the CIA's continued pursuit of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. If the conspiracy-theorist Web sites we found are to be believed, they tried slipping LSD into his drinks before scheduled TV appearances (the theory was that a drug-crazed rant on national TV would hurt his popularity), passed him exploding cigars and planted suitcase bombs; they even peppered the island with Western propaganda, such as a comic-strip version of George Orwell's anti-Communist manifesto, Animal Farm.
Castro's still around, of course, which doesn't bode well for our example. But the point is, you don't have to nail your guy with one foundation-shaking scandal. Be creative, and work diligently at highlighting his weak spots. Has he made a bad high-profile decision or two? Don't let anyone forget them, and build upon this solid base to discredit him: Get him drunk at the company party by ordering him doubles instead of singles, or get him caught smoking some recreational drugs. Is he on the graying side? Start worrying publicly about his health. Or try spreading a nasty rumor. For example, loudly but casually mention to coworkers that Mr. Burns has been having financial difficulties due to a gambling addiction or a spendthrift mistress. Chip away at him patiently: The key is not to knock him off yourself; it's simply to position him for a fall the next time the shit hits the fan. Leave your morals at the door. As those sensitive folks in the Godfather movies say, this is just business…as we're sure you'll understand at some point in the future when you get thrown from your well-paying, top job by some eager, young Stuff reader.
You've been tasked with finding another good man for your crew. You work your fingers to the bone to locate a qualified candidate, only to discover that the yutz in question has his doubts about your greener pasture. So how do you get him to come play in your yard? Employ this tried-and-tested tactic the CIA used to get Soviet agents to defect to the West. "Agents would bait KGB spies with the promise of a life of opulence unheard of in Russia," explains Jon Elliston, self-professed CIA expert and amateur commentator on the company's declassified in-house journal Studies in Intelligence. "They promised everything-lots of money, a big house, a nice car and a cushy job with the American government." At the same time, CIA agents would "expose" the Russian government's underappreciation of the agent's abilities.
So, make your man feel undervalued where he is. Tell him about the "perks that a man of his stature should be receiving." Casually drop anecdotes about those expense-account brainstorming-over-dinner sessions you have every so often-just to let him know your people's ideas are appreciated. After letting all that sink in for a few moments, casually add: "You probably have the same scenario where you work now, right?" If his eyes drop, you've got him thinking.
But don't stop there. Emphasize your company's high points-the terrific 401(k) plan, the health-club membership, use of the company car-and promise him the moon. Within reason, of course. (Just make sure that anything you exaggerate doesn't find its way into the work contract.) And if you do your homework-such as uncovering the benefits he's currently enjoying-you can smack him with a hefty dose of one-upmanship and steer him your way in no time.
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