Nov
30

 

Jesus made a distinction between the way He gives and the way the world gives. In John 14:27, when referring to the Holy Spirit, he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” I want to use this article to describe the manner in which the world gives, particularly in reference to our relationships with others.

In my last two articles I have emphasized that each of us attempts to control the world around us, including our relationships, to have positive feelings and avoid negative ones. This is our worldly, fleshly nature. Thus, when discussing how the world gives it only makes sense that “giving” is due to our having positive emotions or stopping negative feelings when doing so. In this sense, giving is a selfish act. Please remember, I am not making a value judgment, only stating facts. I am in no way telling you not to give, only recognize what the Bible emphasizes: Not one of us is righteous. Therefore, none of us can come close to the perfection needed to exist in the presence of a perfect God. We require “Grace” to have eternal life with God.

I have referred to those individuals who experience positive feelings by giving in relationships as Givers, or Type-G individuals. In this case “G” does not mean they are “Good” people (cf., my last article discussing only God is good), it only describes the motives for the worldly behavior of these individuals. Therefore, when I describe givers, I am using the term “give” in the worldly sense. There are predictable patterns of behavior shown by givers, some of which people generally find positive and some that are generally viewed negatively.

Givers have two primary motives: They want to be seen by others as being a good person and never want to be viewed as a bad person. In their earlier years, this means that givers attempt to please and avoid displeasing everyone. Obviously, this is not always possible to do. For those who continue to follow this basic rule as adults, they are viewed as very agreeable people who find it virtually impossible to say “no” to others. Unfortunately, they pay a heavy price in relation to internal turmoil. Other givers develop rules that define for them what it means to be a good person and a bad person. These givers are often viewed as being very strong-willed, but uncompromising, individuals. By following their rules, they find it possible to displease others and still maintain their self-image of being a good person.

Not surprisingly, Givers who believe they are Christians usually turn toward their particular denomination and/or the Bible to develop the rules used to define being a good person. They truly attempt to live their lives by those rules, experiencing guilt when they fail to measure up. In this case it is turning off the guilt that leads to their behavior and is based on their worldly nature. I am in no way saying that is not reasonable or acceptable, only that they are behaving in their natural, human fashion. These individuals are typically those that work a great deal and look for little in return. They often fail to get credit for everything they do. They do not feel comfortable being the center of attention. If they commit to doing something, they do their best to do it.

The take away message I hope those reading this article is simple: Every human, including givers, is a worldly, corrupt creature and the only manner one can have eternal life with God is though faith in Jesus Christ. For grace to exist, the relationship with Christ must be more important than any other relationship. Grace is the aspect that separates Christianity from all other religions.

Prior to discussing a particular giver in the Bible, let’s first look at what this take away message means in relation to what Christ told us in the Sermon on the Mount. I have heard some say that Christ brought a new message and new requirements during His physical existence in the world. I sharply disagree with this conclusion. He starts the Sermon by clearly saying He did not come to negate the law, but to complete it. If someone could complete the law, then they are righteous on the basis of their behavior and motivations for those behaviors. By being righteous, that individual has earned the right to exist in the presence of a perfect God for eternity. Jesus then goes on to discuss that the law goes beyond one’s behavior, but at its core has to do with a person’s motivation in his or her heart. He says that the law demands not only that we not murder, but we cannot have resentment and still be righteous. He says that we should not only avoid adultery, but we also have to avoid any lust if we are to be righteous. In his discourse I do not believe that Jesus was telling us as humans what we are expected to do, I believe He is telling us why we are incapable of fulfilling the law based on the behavior we show in the world. He is explaining why we need to have faith in Him as the only one who could complete the full demands of the Mosaic Laws if we can have an eternity with God.

One of the most apparent givers in the Bible is the apostle Paul. Notice that he always followed rules that defined being a good person. Initially, he persecuted the Church. It is clear that he truly believed that he was doing the Lord God’s will since he viewed Christians as misleading God’s people. I hope you can see that the behavior of a giver may not necessarily be consistent with God’s will and that givers can commit some pretty nasty actions when their rules are consistent with those actions.

Paul then had his conversion and later would openly admit he was wrong in those actions. Please note that givers can take responsibility for their own behavior; they can change that behavior if new rules defining what it means to be a good and not a bad person are learned. Even though Paul clearly claimed that he followed the rules for a Pharisee to the fullest extent possible, he later admitted he lacked righteousness. It was his faith in Jesus Christ that was credited as righteousness. Paul clearly admitted that his human nature continued to exist despite his being a new creature in Christ. His behavior as a giver continued to be reflected in the things he did. He pointed out how he continued to support himself financially, not wanting to be a drain on anyone. He obviously took issue with those he felt were manipulating the message of grace for their own gain. In doing so he noted all the things he had endured for Christ. I do not see this as his consciously seeking his own glory, but simply explaining why others should not be mislead by those claiming their own glory since he exceeded what they had done. In other words, he was not seeking praise and others less qualified should not seek praise. Only God deserved the glory. However, it certainly comes across sounding like Paul is tooting his own horn. Givers have positive feelings about their accomplishments and want to have the purpose of their work known. However, when doing so they do not want others to see them as self-serving and bragging.

Givers can alienate many people by following their rules, and desiring others to follow those same rules. Over the past 40 years I have heard many a woman take issue with Paul’s “sexist” rules about how men and women should behave in the church. I say this not to say who is right or who is wrong. I say it to point out just how fast a giver can be viewed negatively despite that person believing he or she is being truthful and fair.

In closing, please remember the original intent of the past few articles. It has been to emphasize that we humans are worldly creatures and lack righteousness. We do only what we are capable of doing based on our minds and hearts. Only God is good, thus making us all bad. Our relationship with Christ is the only way we can become righteous. If any one of us truly accepts these points, then we are moving toward accomplishing what Jesus said about loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

This was an article I did several years ago for Rejoice magazine.

 

Nov
22

 

I am about to talk about half the people in the world, and why they do as they do. I suspect everyone reading this article will see themselves or someone close to them in the information I discuss. I will talk about the other half of the human race next time. However, I want to make clear a very important point. I will discuss matters as facts and with no value judgment being intended. As I said in the last article, every human is the center of his or her own universe, and desires to have positive emotions and to avoid negative ones. Thus, we are all selfish!

 

I do not use the terms good and bad emotions intentionally. From a Biblical standpoint, I firmly believe “good” refers to God, and “bad” refers to everything not of God. The Lord God is clearly described as having both positive and negative emotions. Our “native emotional language”, or how we act in our relationships, is determined by our emotional memories which start to form the day we are born. These memories are what lead to our emotional reactions. We also form memories of how we respond based on those emotions. An example may help you to understand this.

 

My wife was always a very coordinated individual when it comes to music, and she and her friends practiced dancing often. She became an excellent dancer. She had many positive experiences associated with dancing. I always had some evaluation anxiety and was concerned about how others see me. I never knew anyone who danced well, and any time I attempted to do dance moves, I had anxiety. I had only negative experiences tied to dancing. If I go out dancing with my wife, guess who has fun and who is anxious. Not very difficult to figure out is it?

 

It is our emotional memories we store on the right side of our brain (i.e., our “hearts”) which leads us to feel positive and negative emotions tied to situations and events in our lives. Our “hearts” are what make us be either givers or takers in our relationships based on what leads to positive and negative feelings. Both patterns are equally selfish. There has been only One who existed as a human and was perfect. Only He could give and take equally well under the direction of the Father, but never in an attempt to selfishly control the world. Only He could complete all the requirements of Mosaic laws. None of us can come close to this, whether we are takers or givers.

 

Now, let’s briefly describe a taker. In relationships, the goal of a taker is to get power, control, attention, and/or things. Their primary rule is “I win, I get my way.” If they have to give something, this leads to negative feelings. Thus, the times they do something nice for you, they are looking for something in return. There are always strings attached to anything they give to you or do for you. They will remind you again and again about their sacrifices for you. In actuality, those that most of the world sees as the most “giving” are typically takers. This is due to the simple fact that takers will make sure everyone knows when they do something for others.

 

Takers appear very nice and interpersonally attractive when you first meet them. They sell themselves very well. After developing a relationship with them, they eventually develop a characteristic pattern that only those closest to them usually see. When they can’t get what they want, they blow up. If you don’t give in, they will turn cold. If that doesn’t work, they can turn nice once again. The pattern is designed to get what they want at that moment. The more you give into them, the worse they treat you over time. Since so much of the rest of the world sees only the nice outside shell, who would believe their behavior behind closed doors? Takers are those that portray themselves as being the victims or martyrs, even though they often create the problem situations. They often get sympathy from others. Takers attack you for the very things they themselves do. They lie to get what they want. They take credit for things they have not done.

 

I can go on about many other characteristics of takers, but I would rather spend a little time pointing out takers in the Bible. The first was Cain. He got angry when Abel got God’s attention and favor, and killed him. He lied to the Lord to cover it up, taking on the role of the victim (“Am I my brother’s keeper?” And “My punishment is more than I can bear.”) Takers always feel cheated and can justify their behavior.

 

To see just how irrational a taker can be, one need only look at Pharaoh in response to Moses. He took pleasure in making unrealistic demands of the oppressed Israelites. He gave lip service to get the damaging miracles to stop, but then did not follow through with what he promised to do. Even after letting the Israelites go, he then changed his mind sine he did not want to lose his slave labor. His inability to stop pursuing all power and control led to his death in the Red Sea. Takers many times engage in actions leading to detrimental effects for everyone around them, including themselves.

 

Even the knowledge and wisdom men may know in their minds does not prevent the heart of a taker from making poor decisions. Take Solomon who had so much understanding, having excessive wealth and power. He even had the Lord appear to him twice. He could never have enough, and did exactly what he knew not to do in his mind. He pursued many women and this resulted in his following other gods. Takers can never be satisfied and always want more.

 

Whether one looks at the Israelites who saw the Lord’s power in the desert with Moses but still rebelled or the rulers who saw Jesus as a threat to their power with the Jews, takers cannot help but be the way they are. Saul could obviously know in his mind that David was loyal, but tried to kill him numerous times since he was a threat to his power and attention. Judas saw all the power of Jesus, yet he still betrayed Him. Takers do things that most people would consider illogical.

 

With these things being said, is it a surprise that many people would say takers are bad? Interestingly, those in society that would be the first to condemn takers are most likely takers themselves. If they were to admit to anyone they were this way, how could they get more from others. Takers will be the quickest to describe themselves as givers.

 

Before anyone decides to march out to mount a campaign to rid the world of takers, please remember that the other half of the world is equally selfish. They get positive feelings by giving. They fall equally short of being able to fulfill the Mosaic laws. Whether we give to the needy or offer our prayers to God, we need to be aware of our motives. Jesus said in Matthew 6:3, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” The right hand is controlled by the left side of the brain (i.e., the “mind”) and the left hand by the right side (i.e., the “heart”). If I give with my “mind” and get my reward by what I feel in my “heart”, I have done it for me, whether I am a giver or a taker. Wow, we once again see what was said 2000 years ago has a neurophysiological basis based on our current understanding of the brain. I will remind you once again, the Bible contains knowledge of everything.

 

Next time, I will discuss givers in more detail.

 

This was an article I did several years ago for Rejoice magazine.

Nov
10

 

In Mark 12:31, Jesus said that to love our neighbors as ourselves is the second greatest commandment. I believe an exploration of this commandment as related to other parts of the Bible and our current understanding of the brain can truly enhance our ability to understand all our human relationships. I would like to do that with your briefly.

 

I think it is first important to define what is meant by the word “love.” Over the years of doing psychotherapy, I have found that everyone considers love to be a positive emotion. Thus, they believe that loving one’s neighbor means one should have positive feelings toward others. If you really think about it, that would be impossible. If one uses this definition, then the next time you get angry you’re your spouse or a close loved one, then you no longer have positive feelings at the immediate moment. Did you fall out of love since you are not having positive feelings? Of course not! Even Jesus showed negative emotions toward the vendors when he chased them out of the Temple area.

 

This requires us to better define what “love” means if we are to understand our Lord’s directions. I believe a better definition of “love” is that we are perceiving things as they really exist and accepting that reality. If I love the Lord, I am accepting Him as all powerful, all knowing, all perfect, and as the most important relationship I have. I see that God is the center of the universe. Everything exists through Him and for Him. If I love my spouse, I am accepting the reality is it is the most important human relationship I have. However, I also accept that my spouse is an equally imperfect human, just as I see myself. If I love all other humans, I am seeing them as equally imperfect as myself. I know that all of us are born as the center of our universe and can understand things only as they impact us personally. Emotion has nothing to do with it!

 

For example, in Genesis 6 it clearly states that His Spirit would not contend (or remain in) man forever because man is mortal (or corrupt). He was not referring to just one man, but all mankind. Throughout the Bible we are told no one is perfect, and that the “heart” is corrupt and slow to change. To “love” our neighbors as ourselves is to accept our inability to ever be anything other than corrupt humans.

 

Now you might ask what this has to do with our understanding of the brain. The answer is “a great deal.” As I explained in the first book I wrote, The Brain and the Bible, I believe the Bible describes us as three parts: mind; heart; and soul. The “mind” refers to the “thinking” (i.e., talking to ourselves) we do in our heads and actually is the left side of the brain. The right side of the brain in involved with emotional processing (i.e., how we feel) and is the “heart.” Since we have these two separate areas, we are often unable to change how we feel simply by what we tell ourselves. I have called this the “think/feel conflict.” We Christians understand the third part is the eternal soul and is not a part of our physical being, but is connected to it.

 

The right side of our brain (i.e., the “heart”) determines what feels positive and negative to us. It stores our emotional memories. The left side controls our language and stores word memories. Just like we learn our native spoken language, we also learn our native emotional language. It is our native emotional language that controls how we deal with all our relationships, including our relationship with God and other humans. The “heart” is the worldly, corrupt aspect that is slow to change. The “heart” is what was hardened in Pharaoh when he refused to let the Israelites leave despite all the catastrophes showing him logically in his “mind” that he had no power over God. The “hearts” are what led the Israelites to rebel against God during the Exodus despite their seeing God’s majestic power. It is the “heart” that caused David to have sex with another man’s wife, and then have him murdered, despite his knowing God sees all. It is the “heart” that caused Peter to have fear and deny Jesus, despite in his “mind” having told Jesus this would never happen. I could obviously give many more examples, but I think you get the point I am trying to make. That is, our “hearts”, not our “minds”, determine our behavior in all our relationships. It is our “hearts” that we cannot control simply by changing how we “think” about things. If I “love” my neighbor as myself, I am accepting we both have corrupt hearts and these are what determine how we deal with each other.

 

Our “hearts” are what determine whether a person is what I have defined as givers and takers. Simply put, a giver feels positive when he gives to others, but not when he takes. On the other hand, a taker feels positive feelings when he takes from others, but not when he gives. Using this simple concept, it becomes possible to understand not only what people are capable of doing in relationships, but why they have to act the way they do. This allows me to truly see the reality of both me and my neighbor, and if I accept the reality, “love” them as ourselves. In my next article, I will fully describe the behavior of takers, and why they cannot do things differently.

 

This is an article I did several years ago for rejoice magazine.

Jul
02

 

Sadness, despondency, and feeling blue are ways we describe what is clinically referred to as dysphoric mood. When this has been present most of the time for two weeks in association with 5 or more other symptoms (e.g., sleep change, appetite change, low energy, memory/concentration problems, loss of enjoyment, etc.), it is called a major depressive episode. Most of you have probably heard depression described as a chemical imbalance (just watch antidepressant commercials on television) or a disease, though that is quite a deceptive statement. It simply describes a set of symptoms which can result from a number of causes. Given the right circumstances, it can, and probably will, be a condition we all experience at some point in our lives.

 

After 30 years of providing psychotherapy to depressed patients who are Christians, I have unfortunately seen an all too often occurrence; other Christians telling them that if they had enough faith, they would not be depressed. They are usually further told that they need to keep a “positive attitude.” When hearing such statements, the depressed Christian feels even more worthless and inadequate, feeling as though he/she fails to measure up to God’s expectancies. This results in a worsening of depression and more withdrawal. Prior to voicing such judgments (or judging others in any capacity), I think it is important to be aware of what the Bible says about depression. The answer is, “not much.”

 

Let’s look at what psychologically may lead to depression. The first factor is current situations which are negative. If someone is in constant pain with no cure, is it surprising that person feels sad? If you just had an argument with your spouse who has disappointed you, would you not expect to feel despondent? If you are facing bankruptcy, would you expect this to have no effect? I believe most of you would agree that these things do cause despondency.

 

The second factor is related to negative emotional memories. People who had a parent who was physically or verbally abusive have negative memories that affect them in their later relationships, particularly with people in positions of authority (e.g., one’s boss). Children/teens who are picked on frequently in school find as adults they have anxiety around peers. In both of these cases, the person is made to feel inadequate. When current situations cause those memories to reactivate, the person feels despondent.

 

The final factor is loss of something/someone associated with positive feelings. Loss of a relationship (e.g., death, divorce) with someone who was close to you leads to grief/depression. Loss of your job and being unable to find another is an all too often occurrence in today’s economy. If you were previously a very active person and dealt with stress by getting busy, having physical problems preventing you from continuing to be active means you have lost the manner in which you cope. In each of these cases, depression is common.

 

With the acknowledgement of these factors as leading to depression, then let’s take a quick look at someone the Lord God said was blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil – Job. Obviously, Job had great faith in God. However, he not only lost his children and possessions, he had a chronic painful condition. His wife criticized him for holding onto his integrity and not cursing God. His three friends proceeded to criticize him as well. As you read Job’s comments, he clearly admits to his misery and despair, wishing he had never been born. In the end, the Lord God did not criticize Job for being depressed. He did make Job aware that he has no right to question God’s fairness since God’s ways are beyond a human’s understanding. In other words, it appears that God’s desire was to have Job’s faith independent of his mood, including despondency. Now think about this logically. If God wants my faith in Him to be independent of either positive or negative moods, how do you think He reacts to those speaking in His name who claim that adequate faith means there should be an absence of negative emotions? Instead of judgment, I think it is much more appropriate to show compassion and comfort to the depressed Christian, encouraging him or her to maintain faith in Jesus Christ. Instead of telling someone to keep a positive attitude in the presence of overwhelming negative situations, would it not be better to acknowledge to that person that it is perfectly understandable why they feel depressed. Don’t make the all-too-often error that Job’s three friends made by telling someone that if he/she does right, things will be fine. If you find yourself leaning in that direction recall God’s comment in Job 42:7, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right….”

 

Spiritual Growth and the Depressed Christian

 

How many times have you heard others question how a fair God could allow the things to occur that we humans consider wrong? Having a spouse leave or someone suffering physical problems despite their being “good” people, are just two such instances. Yet we see both Christians and non-Christians being subject to such “unfairness”.  Loss of close relationships, physical health, job, or other important aspects of our lives leads to grief and associated depression. How does this fit into God’s plan?

 

What happens in this world is temporary and ends. For Christians, it is important to remember that the entire basis of our promise of an eternity with God is based upon our faith in Jesus Christ. We have to admit we are incapable of ever being righteous on the basis of our own behavior. Thus, it is our relationship with Jesus that is important. He clearly indicated that if there is any relationship we have with any human or material thing that is more important than our relationship with Him, we do not have Him (e.g., Matthew 10: 34-39). With this fact in mind, how many of you have ever asked Him to increase your faith? I believe He will honor such a request. However this means the end result will be that He becomes your primary relationship in both your mind and your heart. Please don’t interpret what I am saying means He is your only relationship, but He is always the priority.

 

Our Lord clearly desires a one-on-one relationship with each of us. This means we trust that the situations and events in our lives can never interfere in that relationship, only enhance it. In our minds we are quick to say God is in control, but feeling it in our hearts is a completely different matter. For faith in God’s power and control to exist, we must first feel in our hearts that neither we nor any other human are in control. This is akin to the 16th century description of the “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross. The anguish one feels in the journey to trust more completely in a final union with God can be extreme, and for some, last for years. We must let go of the value of what exists in this world. For this to occur, we must lose those things of more value than our relationship with Jesus. If this is all true, are we given any directions in the Bible to assist us as we grapple with difficult times and events? I believe the answer is “yes”.

 

Both the Old (e.g., Isaiah 61 2) and New (e.g., Matthew 5: 4) Testaments tell us that those who mourn will be comforted. For anyone to mourn, they must first accept the reality of loss. This can be difficult, particularly for those of us in Western societies who believe that if we work hard enough at doing something, we should be able to achieve it. We believe that the world events should be fair and somehow make logical sense based on the rules we believe in. Whether you lose your health, a close relationship, or something else, it is important to accept the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, many times people try to avoid accepting the reality since it is not what they desire. Others feel betrayed and say they cannot accept a God who is not fair. Yet the true believer recognizes that losses are a part of our journey through this temporary existence and it is reasonable to be depressed/grieve without any question as to God still being in control. Remember Jesus’ words in Luke 12: 4-5 when he said, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.” Jesus did not say that things of this world cannot harm you or others if you believe in Him, only that such power is limited to this temporary existence. I remind you, our faith in Him carries with it only the promise of what comes after this temporary existence.

 

Recall the profound words in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, in which it is described that there is a time for everything. There is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” By maintaining faith in both positive and negative times, as well as times that are emotionally neutral, our emotions do not guide our belief that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Emotions are temporary and change, faith for the believer is permanent and does not waver. Support each other through life situations, always keeping in mind that God’s ways are beyond our understanding. At the same time, take comfort in the fact that in our eternity with God, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

 

These two article were originally written with Rejoice magazine several years ago.

Jul
01

Christianity and Science: Which One is Right?

This is probably one of the most misused and misunderstood questions I have heard. Though it is usually most used in relation to evolution versus creationism, it has been used in other areas such as archaeology and whether certain stories in the Bible can be accurate. Others have set up similar questions in relation to psychology versus Christianity. What such questions do is deceive the listener/reader into thinking only one can be right. Similar to the question of whether a glass is half empty or half full, it leads away from a truthful response; that being it is both.

 

If one is a realist, then that person is often on guard for such questions. As Christians, we are told to accept and seek truth. As a scientist, accepting and seeking truth is also sought. Unfortunately, both Christians and scientists often make the same mistakes as they try to defend their positions. This leads to disputes where none are needed.

 

For Christians, it is important to remember that God established the universe and all the laws that govern how it exists. If science’s primary role is to find those laws and describe them, how could anyone argue that this is not consistent with God’s creation. He is a God of order and consistency, not disorder and chaos. It is true that science does not always describe things completely accurately and theories do change. One example of this is that prior to 1998 it was thought that the universe was slowing its speed of expansion due to gravity. As of now in 2010 it is generally accepted that the universe continues to expand. You might ask what that has to do with controversy between science and Christianity. Well, very little, but it does show how quickly predominant scientific theories can change. However, let me now add that it is well accepted that the universe is over 14 billion years old and the Earth is almost 5 billion years old and I suspect this has upset several individuals who maintain that the Bible says creation happened about 6000 years ago. Moreover, many want to insist that God created the universe in 7 24-hour days, which is quite inconsistent with information from science. So, which is correct?

 

Read more…

Jun
26

 

One of the major problems in most peoples’ lives involves the workplace, with problematic bosses heading the list. I thought it might be helpful for me to provide a description based on the Clinical Biopsychological manual I wrote on the Taker boss since it helps to understand why these individuals create such a toxic environment. Here is the information and see if it sounds like what you have observed. Please feel free to share this with others who may have an interest.

 

Understanding and Dealing with the Tyrannical Boss

 

The first step in most effectively deciding how to best handle anyone is to understand the reasons for their behavior patterns. Based on a new brain theory, it is possible to actually do this. In a nutshell (and grossly overly simplified), the left side of the brain controls language, while the right side controls emotions. Just as we learn our native verbal language by storing memories of words, we also develop our native emotional language by storing emotional memories. Our emotional memories are the ones that determine what feels positive and what feels negative for us, and this in turn determines our behavior patterns in relationships. Thus, half the people with whom you have contact activate positive feelings when giving to others, while the other half activate positive feelings by taking from others. This is the basis of several books and CDs I have done, as well as an important part of a psychotherapy approach called emotional restructuring.

 

Invariably, the difficult boss is a taker. He (though it could as easily be a she) initially has an attractive outside shell. He is very adept at talking to people and can fit in just about anywhere. Due to this ability, he has learned to say all the right things to please the people above him in a business, and walks on anyone below him. He activates positive whenever he takes power, control, attention, or things from others. The only rule he plays by is, “I win, I get my way.”

 

When you first meet this person, he can make you feel as though he will be supportive of you, often talking about everyone being a team player. Unfortunately, when you accept a position under them, things change quickly. Promises made to you never seem to materialize. He will take credit for any of your accomplishments, and always blame someone else when things don’t go well. He accomplishes this by controlling communication, so that the only information heard by his boss comes from him. He gets very upset if anyone does not communicate through the chain of command. This boss wants to appear indispensable. This often leads to his giving you limited information about things so that you will have to come back to him for more details before you can complete what you have been asked to do. He may then belittle you and rant about how he has to do everything.

 

When his boss is not around, he can be temperamental and toss temper tantrums. He can turn cold afterwards. Only if he wants something will he be nice. It lasts only until he has gotten what he wants and then you will be ignored. He will become jealous of you the more competent that you are. In other word, he feels that competent employees are a threat to his power and control. This is the reason that he usually surrounds himself with “yes men” who are not very competent. This type of individual usually climbs quickly in organizations despite not truly doing a very good job. They know how to talk a good game and how to take credit for others’ work. Though there is much more to say about this boss, I am sure this has given you a flavor for why you see the behaviors you do.

 

The healthiest thing you can do with this type of boss is leave. However, I realize many of you do not have that luxury and need to best deal with the boss. Therefore, for those who cannot leave, you would want to apply strategies that work to minimize the damage to you. Since the taker has mutually perceived power and control over you, it is very difficult to establish and maintain clear limits. The degree to which this is possible varies greatly from situation to situation. In the case where you actually have talents or abilities beyond those of others, and these are of value to the taker in control, there is an ability to establish some limits. If you have no exceptional value, limits are much harder to maintain. There are some things that you can do in this regard. These are (a) feeding information; (b) avoiding negative comments and making positive comments about the taker, particularly to his superior, if possible; and (c) letting the taker make suggestions tied to the client’s work.

 

Since takers in positions of power attempt to control information flow and exchange, they often are quite nosy and insistent that they know everything. Often, a subordinate may perceive this invasive control and attempt to become more secretive. Unfortunately, the taker perceives this and exerts even more tight control. On the other hand, if the subordinate starts the daily routine of simply conversing with the controlling taker and feeding him information about activities that are going on, the taker feels less threatened and is less likely to be as nosy.

 

Making negative comments to co-workers about a taker boss commonly occurs but can actually lead to problems for you since taker bosses do listen carefully to any office gossip. Since a client may have taker co-workers, the likelihood of comments being repeated to the boss is high. It is best that a client make negative comments only to trusted individuals not connected to the work situation.

 

Since takers always want positive attention and praise from anyone, making such comments can be beneficial in the client’s interaction with the boss. These are particularly helpful if made to the taker’s boss who is likely to mention the comment and the client’s name to the taker. Though the client may feel this is helping to solidify the taker’s own position of control, this is probably not a well-founded concern since the taker is already saying all the “right things” to his boss to maintain his position. The taker usually has the skill to impress those above him.

 

A final strategy in dealing with a taker boss has to do with his making suggestions tied to your work. If he feels he is involved, he has a vested interest in keeping the work moving as efficiently as possible. If you work for someone that rarely makes useful suggestions, then you can approach this with the solution already in mind. In this case, you would already know what you want your boss to say, and then selectively ignore any other suggestions made by the boss. Even if the taker has to be guided with a few hints, you can immediately respond in a positive way to the suggestion when it is finally made and then praise the taker for his input.

 

As should be obvious, these suggestions amount to playing games. The likelihood that you will continue to experience frustration and resentment is high. However, these would only be used if you decide to remain in the situation