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I have been doing meditation for long time and have felt a change in me. I have started developing strong compassion, and due to this I am speaking very politely to everyone and always agreeing with the views of others. In fact, I am helping others in their work. However, now people have started taking me for granted.

As I speak kindly with my subordinates, they are taking advantage of me by commanding me to do their work and are trying to dominate. They have started speaking in rude ways to me as they have started feeling that I am not harmful for them and cannot do anything. I am now becoming a victim of their politics.

How to overcome this problem? I cannot leave my post as this is the only way of earning my bread and butter.

Being on the path of Buddhism, how to maintain relations with your colleagues?

  • I think this question is probably a duplicate of (i.e. already has some asnwers at) Can Buddhists be good workplace leaders? – ChrisW Sep 10 '16 at 19:35
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    To not hold ill will against others should not be confused as compulsively saying "yes" to everything. Know that Buddhism is not in conflict with earning your living, with time and practice comes understanding, and questions like these you will quickly answer. – avatar Korra Sep 10 '16 at 20:23
  • This isn't really a formal answer, but I would say that it's just as important for yourself to be treated respectfully as it is for you to be respectful to others. What is important in buddhism is to also have strong moral courage and not to let people take advantage of you. (I don't mean to say that you havn't at all done that, but I just wanted to highlight it). – Morella Almånd Sep 11 '16 at 3:30
  • " always agreeing with the views of others"? What happens when they have conflicting views? – Quora Feans Sep 11 '16 at 15:42
  • ...always agreeing with the views of others. Seems to imply that previously there were disagreements. Did your views actually change? – user2338816 Sep 11 '16 at 22:30
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Every worker has a duty to become proficient in & do their work. A proper leader must nurture this. Also, rude speech is improper in the workplace; just as rude speech is improper in Buddhism.

In reality, the values in original Pali Buddhism perfectly fit a secular world. For example, if the Pali scriptures are read, it will not be found the Buddha speaking very politely to everyone and, particularly, always agreeing with other's views. Often the Buddha was firm (but always fair) to others in his speech & the Buddha always conformed with what is ethically & dhammically correct thus often correcting or even admonishing the wrong views of others.

Just like the Dhamma-Vinaya (Doctrine-&-Disciple) has clear rules, a workplace has set rules & delegation of duties. These should be adhered to, without prejudice, which results in a lack of confusion.

If you are a leader, you have the opportunity to nurture a clear, ethical & unconfused workplace. It is when workplace leaders become corrupt, prejudiced or too wavering when confusion arises & difficulties begin, particularly for ethical workers. Most people take any chance to dominate. A fair & ethical leader is rare.

In short, less focus on personalities (including your own) and more focus on rules & responsibilities.

Kesi, I train a tamable person [sometimes] with gentleness, [sometimes] with sternness, [sometimes] with both gentleness & sternness.

Kesi Sutta

Some references:

Right Speech From His Own Lips

A Constitution for Living: Buddhist Principles for a Fruitful and Harmonious Life

Sigalovada Sutta: The Layperson's Code of Discipline

Potaliya, four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. What four kinds? The four kinds are:

Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Some people praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time, but do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Some people do not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and do not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Some people blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time.

Potaliya, these four kinds of people exist and can be found in the world. Of these four kinds of people, that kind should be the most fair and right, the most refined, to you?

"Venerable Lord Gotama, of all those four kinds of people, the kind of person who does not blame those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and does not praise those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; is the kind of person who is the most beautiful and refined to me. What is the reason for this? Because this is fair and right with upekkha (equanimity)."

Potaliya, of all those four kinds of people, whichever kind of person blames those who should be blamed, according to the truth, at the proper time, and praises those who should be praised, according to the truth, at the proper time; this kind of person is the most beautiful and refined of these four kinds of people. What is the reason for this? It is fair and right because such a one knows the right time in those circumstances.

~~~

Avoiding the biases: when an administrator is carrying out his functions, he should not allow the four biases, or deviations from righteousness, to interfere:

Chandagati: biased conduct on account of like

Dosagati: biased conduct on account of dislike

Mohagati: biased conduct on account of delusion or foolishness

Bhayagati: biased conduct on account of timidity and fear

  • The Buddha once asked several of his monk disciples how they were able to live together `in harmony, mutual appreciation and agreeability. This is found in the (Anuruddha) Upakkilesa Sutta. – Saptha Visuddhi Sep 10 '16 at 21:54
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    i'm afraid the sutta doesn't apply since in the case of the three monks all of them pursued the same goals and adhered to the same principles. Ven Anuruddha said: "We are different in body, but one in mind" – Баян Купи-ка Sep 11 '16 at 7:08
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Buddha is cited as Victor for a reason: a good Buddhist is strong and certain - not weak and doubtful. These strength and certainty come from standing firmly with both feet in reality (Tatha) - standing firmly with both feet in Dharma. A good Buddhist does not surrender to what is false, nor does he (or she) cling to what is false. Because there is nothing in him that is false, he can be strong and certain.

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and always agreeing on others view

very wrong message, polite disagreement is completely normal

try to overcome it by ceasing being meek and docile, because people are animals and take kindness for weakness, and then the following saying is at work

the willing horse gets the whip

without knowledge of the hierarchy and distribution of powers at the workplace it's difficult to offer suggestions, but if there're enough powers to effect a dismissal of such manipulative and brazen subordinates, they can be given a warning, maybe in an indirect form

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    Apparently English has sayings which say the opposite: e.g. that you should "never spur a willing horse". – ChrisW Sep 10 '16 at 20:32
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    maybe, but it has no known to me counterpart in Russian... – Баян Купи-ка Sep 10 '16 at 20:51
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I have experienced some brief training as a novice monk in a short term monastic retreat in the Chinese Chan (Zen) tradition, and I can assure you that you get a lot of tough love. The disciplinary monks are very stern and you can expect a good earful if you make careless mistakes. That is how they push the monks really hard into a disciplined life style. It's effectively a boot camp for mindful living. I have been unable to maintain the same standard of discipline in my lay life but it has changed me.

But as you get to know the teachers you realized they actually has a very soft side and are very compassionate in training us harshly even though it means they might not be liked.

Don't take abuse from people. It's not acceptable.

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I am speaking very politely to everyone and always agreeing with the views of others.

It is not compassionate to be overly lenient towards others and allow them to push you around. If you do this, you allow their egos to grow and their bad qualities to rise. A compassionate Buddhist should behave to others in a way that he believes will be the most beneficial to everyone. This means speaking clearly and openly to others. If one disagrees with something, one can say it clearly and frankly, but in a kind, considerate way. Repressing one's own opinions and wishes is not going to benefit anyone. Clear communication, interaction and occasional compromises are necessary for a harmonious work-environment.

Moreover, as a leader, it's your duty to take the lead and tell your subordinates what to do in some way or the other. That doesn't mean you have to be overly bossy, or refuse to listen to the viewpoints of your subordinates. However, it means you need to take both views into account and, in the end, make balanced decisions as a leader. Sometimes this may mean putting your foot down and say you disagree with some of the wishes/views of your subordinates. As a part of right livelihood you need to fulfill your obligation and agreement with your employer. As a part of that obligation, you have made a promise to be a leader. (It's part of your job.) If you don't fulfill that obligation, you are not keeping your promise to your employer. Thus, it would not be right livelihood, since you'd be breaking your obligation and word. You need to act as a leader, as you're expected to. The challenge for you is to combine this with being compassionate and kind. This is hardly easy, but it's what the Buddhist path can be like.

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You could also ask this question on Workplace.SE.

Here I'll try to give an answer that relevant to Buddhism .SE.


As I speak kindly with my subordinates, they are taking advantage of me by commanding me to do their work and are trying to dominate.

It has happened, when I was working somewhere, that a friend/colleague told me that he'd decided to leave and go and work elsewhere. Instead of being annoyed (that they were leaving), I wanted to be happy for them (i.e. mudita): that they were free to find another job that they preferred.

An opposite (a negative), to be avoided, is to have a "mind of ill-will". I think you can (should) "speak kindly to your subordinates" and avoid having ill-will towards them.

That needn't mean they "dominate you", though, for a few reasons:

"Compassion" means, "may they be free from suffering". You seem to be treating this as a zero-sum game (they win if you lose, and compassion means that you should let them win). Instead of "zero-sum" I prefer to see work as a cooperative endeavour, i.e. "we win if we cooperate". You can want them to be free from suffering, without wanting them to dominate you. You might also do this with children or animals: if you know what's good and bad for them, you tell them and insist on that.

Also, "equanimity": part of the Buddhist teaching on equanimity is to reflect that everyone is the owner of their kamma. For example once, when I was working as a software developer, I had one colleague, who couldn't do the work, and who smelled of alcohol at work. I told my boss, and he was fired. I didn't have ill-will towards this man, and it wasn't my fault he was drinking: but this wasn't the right job for him.

Buddhism has a concept of "right livelihood", i.e. that in order to be moral you shouldn't have immoral employment. Buddhism doesn't have much to say about it for lay people, there are very few rules describing right livelihood for lay-people. Nevertheless I think that one of the rules is "not cheating": for example if your employer hires you to be a manager, then you owe it (to your employer) to be a good manager. This needn't mean being a cruel manager (if it does then maybe you need a different employer), but IMO your job as manager is to balance the needs of the employer with the needs of the employee (and the rest of society too, i.e. the employer's owners and customers etc.).

So for example you define work, assign it to employees, supervise the quality of the work, integrate their output with other people's work, etc. The fact that you're trying to do right livelihood means that it's inappropriate as a manager to be a push-over, to be too dominated. You might find it help to read this collection of definitions of right speech ... which even permits some things said which other people don't like, which they find "unendearing and disagreeable":

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, but unendearing & disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.

That quote is taken from the Abhaya Sutta, which also includes this line:

What do you think, prince: If this young boy, through your own negligence or that of the nurse, were to take a stick or a piece of gravel into its mouth, what would you do?"

I would take it out, lord. If I couldn't get it out right away, then holding its head in my left hand and crooking a finger of my right, I would take it out, even if it meant drawing blood. Why is that? Because I have sympathy for the young boy.

Another concept more-or-less related to Buddhism might be being impersonal. For example when I was the "chief software developer" at a company, I didn't think of it as my job to supervise the people: I saw it as my job to supervise the software that was being created. I'd talk to people about the software (e.g. "this software which you wrote is good and/or bad"), not try to dominate the people (e.g. "you are good and/or bad").

When reviewing their software I tried to have three (not just two) categories of comment:

  1. This is good: acceptable, well done.
  2. This is, in my opinion, not (yet) good enough, for this and that reason: please change it in this and that way before I accept it.
  3. Well, OK; I wouldn't have done it that way. FYI I would have done it so and so. If you like/agree/prefer you could change it to include my suggestion, or we can keep it the way you've done it: it's acceptable.

Giving my opinion on the software was something I was relatively competent at. Because I was focused on the software, people couldn't easily "dominate" me except my giving me high-quality software, which is what I (and my employer) wanted.

Similarly you find it better to be shoulder-to-shoulder with your subordinates, assessing the work, working together, instead of face-to-face and trying to dominate each other.

Also I remember, just once, it happened that someone wasn't willing to let me review their changes to the software. Well, responsibility and authority tend to go together. In this case I was (part) responsible for the quality of the software and I had the corresponding authority (e.g. I had the Administrator password and authority to use it). Instead of arguing with the person, I used Administrator functionality to remove their write-access to the software, so that they couldn't (so that only I could) write their changes. That was kind of forceful but it was the really least amount of force, harmless, an appropriate response to the risk/threat of unreviewed software being written.


They have started speaking in rude ways to me as they have started feeling that I am not harmful for them and cannot do anything.

It might be worth telling them: "Don't be rude to me. I'm trying to do a useful job here, and trying to help you do a good job."

If that doesn't work, you might talk to your boss about it. Note that "X is rude to me" and "X is rude to others" and "X isn't doing their job" and "X doesn't accept my advice" are various different statements you could make to your boss.

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