By Albert J. Bernstein

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Don’t expect your boss to change in response to anything you or anyone else might say or do, and don’t believe for a moment that if you somehow read his or her mind and do everything correctly, the criticism will come to an end. The criticism is the source of a bullying boss’s power. It is an end in itself. Instead of hoping for a miracle, observe carefully and anticipate attacks. Don’t be disappointed—be prepared. Don’t Wave a Red Flag in Front of a Bull. When someone in authority is unreasonable, we all have the tendency to display the very behaviors that get under his or her skin.

Unless a tiger is approaching, your most immediate response is most likely to be wrong. There is always time to stop and think, especially when you think there isn’t. Before you decide what to Understanding Craziness 33 do next, take a few deep breaths, walk around the block to burn off the excess adrenaline, or talk things over with a coolheaded friend. Make Sure Your Goal Is Realistic. The beginning of any effective response is knowing what you want to happen and that it actually would improve the situation.

There are always strings attached. Their style of bullying—helpfully pointing out the error of your ways— arises from an unconscious competition with you and everyone else to establish who is the most virtuous person on the planet. They get to feel superior by making you feel inferior. If you get sucked into the competition, you will lose, because there is only one rule, and they made it up: You’re wrong. Helpful bullies get the information they need by encouraging you to tell them all about yourself, especially your problems.

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