Allowing BS to Get to You
BSers. We all know some. In fact, some of us may know many of them.
We deal with them at work, socially, or we just bump into them through random contacts. They are usually loud and have definite opinions about everything. They are never wrong (At least according to themselves) and little would function well without them. And when they are caught fabricating something or out and out lying about it, they have a ready excuse for why it happened in spite of them and they just move on to the next tall tale about themselves.
Apparently people don’t like the truth, but I do like it; I like it because it upsets a lot of people. If you show them enough times that their arguments are BS, then maybe just once, one of them will say, ‘Oh! Wait a minute – I was wrong.’ I live for that happening. Rare, I assure you.
Many of us have learned to tune them out or just ignore them.
When we see them coming we find an escape route. If that doesn’t work, we find some excuse to spend as minimal an amount of time as we have to with them before moving on.
But with some, dealing with them becomes intolerable. It bothers certain folks to no end to the point where it invades their thought and dream times thinking about them. If they could just be put in their place and leave them alone, that would be ideal. But it doesn’t work that way and so we are doomed to listen to stories about themselves and how wonderful they are.
If we see such a person on TV we can change the channel or turn off the blasted TV. But if we have to deal with them at work (Coworkers or managers we deal with regularly) we just have to suck it up and hope that our encounters are of a short duration.
Since they are a fact of life, should we let it bother us so?
While we are thinking about them, they probably are not giving us a second of thought. While they move around carefree, we are caught in the “How do they get away with it?” trap. What is worse is that others seem to readily accept them and may even praise them. What is it that they see in them that we don’t? Are they right and we are wrong? Something else that we think about that bothers us and causes more sleepless time.
When you recognize BS, what should you do about it? Renowned researcher Albert Hirschman suggests we do one of four things to deal with BS. These are:
Voice – Speak up and ask to see evidence that supports the suspected BS. Or offer counter-evidence or logic to challenge it. When people feel there is no penalty for speaking up against BS they are more likely to do so.
Loyalty – Show allegiance to the BSer, because we find the BS personally appealing. This obviously is not our solution as we are turned off by BS,
Neglect – In a work situation employees may react to BS by neglecting their work, withholding effort and disengaging from their jobs. In personal circumstances they disengage from the conversation and become remote to everyone involved.
Exit – Finally, a person may become so frustrated with the BS that he or she exits their organization, or changes their job to escape the BSing boss or coworker. Socially, they don’t hang out with groups that include the BSer, even if that means not being with certain friends or others they enjoy being with.
As business leaders we should do all that we can deter to BS by requiring communication that is clear, evidence-based and jargon-free.
To try to stop the BS, we should practice and expect careful analysis and presentation of information. If we are not in charge, we should discuss the matter with those who are and ask if there is something they can and will do to stop it.
We should also work to stop useless committees and meetings. BSers can and will exploit meetings that are poorly organized and run by using them to promote or legitimize their BS. Leaders should only establish committees and have meetings with clear terms of reference and agendas, and appoint members who have critical thinking mindsets and the appropriate expertise. BS should not be tolerated.
In the end, we cannot stop BS from occurring.
It is a fact of life that we have to learn to deal with. We cannot hide from it unless we want to be all alone in the world, cut off from those we want to be with and essentially dealing only with ourselves.
By realizing this and doing what we can to keep our contact with BSers to a minimum we won’t stop it from happening but we can keep from getting involved with and in it. And we should not fixate on it. Again, those types of individuals don’t think a whit about us, we should we be bothered by them?
Most of all, it isn’t worth losing sleep over. There are many good things happening in our lives. Fixating on the good things and people is satisfying and rewarding. And by doing so, it will give us a good night’s sleep.