Busting chops is one way to garner respect in the workplace.

Unadulterated, blunt, truthfulness in critiques and criticisms of the work of others, flying in the face of adversity the whole time – it’s very empowering. Ball-busting on that level makes it look like you’ve been here, done that, got the t-shirt and what you’ve just been presented with is amateur hour. Nevermind that it’s the most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen, you just want to challenge your team for something better.

Busting chops garners respect, but it also incites back-talk, defensiveness, and doubt in those being busted. It’s not a matter of the relative strength or weakness of your coworkers to “handle it”, all fear-based leadership tactics share these same self-defeating pitfalls.

If you go the chops-busting route, you’d better go all out: full-bore busting of balls 24/7 – no matter what the situation or the players. The problem comes when the veneer eventually breaks down.

If those you busted ever see you break down (particularly after calling you on the carpet), you lose all the respect you’ve earned. Worse yet, your team has a basic human instinct as an urgent and rewarding incentive to break you – revenge. Nobody wants to get their chops busted by someone who can’t take a little chop busting themselves. It’s pathetic and the power-play game is exposed for what it is – nonsense.

The best policy then seems to be: just be nice. You don’t have to play power games to be effective.

Show respect to earn respect.

(Header image: Nutcracker by House of Sims)