* reading time is 2 + a GOOD laugh
In a span of two years, I worked with four British Army generals and met the British Ambassador in Iraq. I mentioned to the generals not to the Ambassador that I learned about a saying and a story that goes with it. Though I couldn’t confirm its historical validity, I wanted their reaction. After hearing me, they gave me a sardonic smile stamped with a nodding and a cynical look.
The famous saying is about the British, known among most of the educated people in Iraq, although it was coined by Mahatma Gandhi. He once said: “if two fish are fighting in the water, then Brits must have instigated the fight.” Iraqis have a similar version: if two Iraqis are fighting in Detroit, they will blame Saddam in Baghdad (version 2.0 Saddam’s era). And, everything that happens in Iraq is the fault of Americans (version 3.0 post Saddam’s era).
As far as how the story goes, it is about a wife of a British Ambassador in one of the Arab countries (let us not name the Arab country.) A short version of the story goes something like this:
The Arab nation was hosting an official event and invited most of the foreign delegates in the country. Among the attendees were the British and French Ambassadors along with their wives. As the evening evolved to a more relaxed gathering, one of the high-ranking army generals of the host nation, while walking past the British Ambassador’s wife, without warning patted her behind. The wife got very upset; she turned to her husband and told him what had just happened.
She was shocked when he turned calmly, approached the general and congratulated him for his courage. He shook his hand and said to him: “Wow…What you did was very bold; my wife liked it.”
Upon returning to his wife, she demanded an explanation. He assured her everything is fine. She couldn’t understand and remained upset. He calmed her down and asked her to enjoy her drink and observe.
It didn’t take long; the army general full with courage by then, he turned around and tried it again, but this time with the French Ambassador’s wife. Without hesitation, the French Ambassador reached into his jacket, took out a pistol and shot him on the spot.
The British Ambassador turned to his wife and said her, “Do you understand now?”
I love this story. It has a Machiavellian tactic. When the generals heard, they gave me a sardonic smile stamped with a nodding and a cynical look. But, I have applied it in my life, although not to the extent of letting people shoot each other.
It is one of the ways I have dealt with the many assholes from Asshole-stan in my life.
What is an asshole?
“In his own mind he is a Nobel Prize-caliber intellect, rightful leader of the free world. The gap between his sense of self-worth and his actual value is enormous and apparently immune to correction from external evidence. He treats people around him like Kleenex, suitable mainly for receiving his expectation before being thrown away.” – From the Management Myth by Matthew Stewart (you must read this book)
Once I have determined that a person is an asshole, then I start feeding him back his own bullshit. Like if he is lying to me, I let him think that I believe him. I even encourage him to continue his behavior, making him believe his own lies.
I’ll give you one example from my life, (I have many).
I had worked with a guy, let us call him Tom. Tom was constantly complaining, gossiping, and talking behind other people’s backs, including mine. He annoyed me a lot. As a friend I advised him to stop complaining on more than one occasion, yet he continued. By that time, I wanted him to be fired.
I started to use my Machiavellian strategy. I encouraged him on his exaggerated stories; and I continued to agree with all his work issues. In fact, I passed him all my work issues to add to his list of complaints. With my extra issues, the guy just couldn’t shut his mouth.
It didn’t take long, in about a month, management decided to let him go.
I consider myself genuinely a nice guy. I was one of those kids who went to an Evangelical Sunday School. I was taught Biblical principles such as forgiveness.
But sometimes, when you meet people from Asshole-stan, you need to make them taste their own asshole-ness.
* Any comments? write below. I love to read them.