Sunday, 11 September 2016

Are you in a stressful “Dog eat Dog” work environment? How to deal with it?

I received a comment in my earlier blog post Happiness Vs True Happiness, from a reader. Below is the comment, which inspired me for writing this post.  

Hi Rolf, always enjoyed your enlightening posts. This post is something I have been struggling with as well. I work in the banking industry and it is a very dog eat dog* world. 

I have been backstabbed many times until I have learnt to guard against others. And have become sceptical, selfish and hostile to some people. To be honest I feel that even if I am nice to these people they will not reciprocate the same way too. So I have no choice but to guard myself against them. 

Recently I have fallen ill and it is a longterm illness. I also think that it is partly due to my inability to let go off work stress, money stress and stock stress.. 

Now I try to relax more, but still being in this industry it doesn't help. And it is not easy to change industry or down size my salary Coz I feel that I am still young and can earn more......but still I am good to people who I think are good or people whom are good to me..

* “Dog eat Dog” - if a situation is dog eat dog, people will do anything to be successful, even if what they do harms other people. In this case, the reader is referring to office politics where people step on each other's back in order to climb the corporate ladder. Also known as “Dog bite Dog” in mandarin direct translation. 

Not just in banking, it is everywhere

I am deeply saddened by the reader's comments that he/she had fallen ill due to the burdens of work, money and stock stress! I sincerely hope that he/she will be able to recover in due course. My sincere blessings for him/her. 

I am a victim myself many years ago and fallen ill due to work. Read here. The culture of “Dog eat Dog” in work is quite a common phenomenon today. It is not just in the banking industry. It is almost everywhere, although I admit that I heard more of this loathsome culture in the banking sector.

The stages.... 

The stages of evolvement in a person climbing for success are almost rhythmic.  It is depicted as follows. 

You started young and innocent, almost unblemished! You are kind and always trying to extend helping hands to others. The kindness is not reciprocated and often taken for a ride. The environment is rife with backstabbing, just like the reader mentioned earlier. You feel disgusted but helpless. Soon you become sceptical and weary in helping and learn to safeguard yourself more. In the process, you are no longer as “caring and charitable” as you use to be! You are more seasoned and sometimes can even become hostile and selfish.

The desire 
Then you begin to see what money and power can bring. You envy the special treatment received from colleagues when they are on top of the hierarchy. Next it is the material enthralments...the cars, the clothes, the watches, the house, and even the attraction from opposite sex with the allure of wealth. Your material desire grew and you work hard to attain it.

Conceit and jealousy 
There is absolutely nothing wrong, for you reap what you sow with conscience clear. Having said that, it will probably goes amiss when our humility recedes and arrogance grow in an insuppressible manner. We become oblivious of how others feel and it's everything for ourselves, everytimes even outside the "working system". We are blinded by conceit and wealth.  We are jealous about other's material success because, we feel that if he/she can do it, so can we. We yearn for more and more. Character and behaviour changed. You are almost a different person you fail to notice, but people around you feel it.  The group of friends you use to mingle is replaced by new friends who are very attached to the topics of luxury.

The thin line between arrogance and ignorance  
You feel on top of the world thinking so highly about yourself. The goals are set higher and higher. When the pursuit of greed, fame and power peaked, so is the ignorance. Just one misstep, moral values will be compromised too. 

Iniquity translates to calamity
As iniquities continue, darkness ahead is imminent. No matter how we comfort ourselves by lips that we will not blinded when pursuing affluence, the truth is you can never realize it when you are enjoying it so much the pleasures where wealth brings. Soon many bad habits will develop. This will lead to deterioration of health. Likewise, the evilness in one's heart will result in wrath which will lead to sore or broken relationships with your close ones. The worst calamity is when evil deeds will be handed down cursing generations after generations. 

Repent and seek for forgiveness
Of course there will be many who realize early along the way, seeking for forgiveness and repentance. Normally it is when they are apparently humbled along the way either by huge relationship or health failure. Then they decided to change path for the good. For those who continue their stupidity, the bigger misfortune will befall one day. 

Be reborned as a new creation
Nonetheless it is never too late to repent and be a “new creation” to see the light ahead.

The possibilities and how to deal with it

We cannot change the rules of the game in the system we live today. Similarly, in our workplace, there is no use crying over it. Tellingly, there exist several possibilities resulting from the encapsulation of the current “wicked system”. 

Scenario 1 – Become the devil 
Collude and become devilish as well. Short term happiness but long term tragedy! 
Scenario 2 – Stay weak and be crushed
Weakness or ignorance is equally sinful. You will soon be the unhappiest person on earth. Illness and depression fill your lives. Fears and worries at franked your bedside every night. Suicide is contemplated or will be resulted.

Scenario 3 – Give up for good 
I have many friends who gave up the “deemed-evil” work environment during their late 20s / early 30s.  This is when switching industry is still considered easier. One of them is my current stock broker who left the banking industry and he told me it is one of the best career decisions. Sometimes we need to learn how to give up and forsake to gain more. 

Scenario 4 – Hang on, but have a plan date to leave
Most will prefer to have this possibility. This is feasible only if you are discipline on the plan date. However the more we delay in getting out, the less likelihood we are able to do so because of "more" (higher income and position) we have to give up. 

Scenario 5 – Stronger than the devil and beat him in his/her own games
This is the most difficult but most effective. I will spend more time sharing because this sounds very similar to my own testimony.

To overcome the evil minds, first you have to understand the system. Then see from outside the system even if you are inside the system! Sounds a bit complicated? Maybe just like NEO, Trinity, Morpheus etc in the movie Matrix. 

Read my various series of Matrix posts. 

Once you are able to comprehend the rules of the game and see through the devil’s minds so clearly, you will then need to speak the TRUTH to ward off the devil in his/her own game. 

The WORDS of truth are so important. It has to be cleverly crafted too to be effective. 

However there must be no hatred or personal agenda that prevails over the overall benefit in a bigger picture. Otherwise you will be no different from the devil. 

Then, continue to shower with the right mixture of love and the truth, and righteousness will ultimately prevail. If it is defeated, do not be disappointed for it is likely that either you cannot be strong enough or it is pre-destined that you will be better off leaving the "system" and seeking a much better life elsewhere. 

The faith must be strong. On the contrary worries and fears weaken! 

You can only be fearless when you are clear conscience and the faith is so strong that you know you will be protected. And not just that. Somehow you will be blessed to comprehend and see “darkness” coming earlier than the rest and will already prepared way in advance for the worst. And when the worst come, you are not frightened or troubled, for this somehow must take place and it definitely does not spell the end of world, but perhaps only the end of era.

Focus on the goodness outside the system

Do not bring work stress back home. Admittedly, it is sometimes easier said than done. Do not mock me for saying this if you yourself are feeling the work stress.

This is a difficult time in the economy.

I know the stress because I am personally experience the most difficult time in my career being in the O&G sector. Many of my friends in the industry are already feeling so stress on the brim of breakdown. Even the veterans in the industry for decades are not spared.

Therefore, if we are unable to let go the troubles in work, what we can do is to focus/create more goodness outside work. Your parents, your loving wife, your children, your friends, your hobbies... You can also take up new interest, get to know new friends outside work. Develop spiritual well-being too. More importantly, strengthened relationships with people around you, whom you cared, through love and concern. Even if it may not eradicate our work stress entirely, it should help to relieve tensions. And at the very least it will not lead to health and relationship problems.

Rolf’s thoughts

Sadly, it is almost inevitable when we are entrapped in today's "system" climbing higher due to allure of wealth, power and status. Neither can we change this fact nor change the system we are living in today. BUT do not be frightened or troubled.

Yet, we can definitely OVERCOME EVIL with more faith, patience, perseverance, wit and more wisdom in life and remember to turn away from sins. Equally important is to speak the TRUTH with the showers of LOVE and the BELIEFS that we will be PROTECTED by DOING GOOD from the greater power beyond us. 


  1. How about Scenario 6?

    Made ourselves no longer a threat or obstacle to our peers who want to climb over us.

    For years, when I was telling my peers when I am around, you all are safe in Bell Curve moderation. But, recently, I am telling some of them; good luck to whoever taking over my position in the Bell Curve next year. :-)

    1. Thanks CW.

      I admit I totally miss this when writing, and you are spot on.

      It's my mistake when I am writing that I am over engaged in scenarios only considering those striving upwards or in the younger age group. Hehe :p

      You provided the balance.

      You colleagues will miss you but they will not miss your blog - for sure :-) !

  2. thanks for this post, you must have been an expert in this area and de-construct a lot. i learn a bit here.

    1. Hi Kyith,

      I am no expert but just personal experience of corporate culture struggle and how I overcome it instead of bottling it within causing sorrows.

      And also happened to meet more people where they relate to me their encounters and I observe that the truth and love without personal agenda is the most powerful against the wicked!

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  3. Think I am in Stage 5. This is really not easy and quite risky but I sleep better. My advise is not to retaliate but stay clam and low. Just focus on your work. Leave has been in my thoughts before but you going to face again else where so may not be a solution.

    1. Agree with Cory. Ignore and focus on what you set to achieve. Dogs are everywhere in any companies big or small.

    2. Hi Cory & SR,

      Indeed, focusing on the work is the key and staying in calm is the key.

      In fact in our entire life, that is the key isn't it. It is effective and sound simple, but how many when they have problems in work or life or relationships are able to do that? Human emotions always run wilder right?

      Maybe to add "while we focus on the work, or everything we do in work, always make sure the priority of the company comes first and not personal priority!" Most don't bcos of the inherent selfishness in human beings that they always come first more than anybody else....

      Then you have to have certain capability/knowledge and work earnestly before your TRUTH can be heard and be rewarded.

      End of the day, the "heart" must be wider also!

  4. I personally do not agree using the name- dog to describe inhuman behaviors. Dog's are the most loyal and faithful. Unlike human...very ungrateful and heartless.. some. I learned what is love through my dog.And I truly thank God for His amazing creation namely Dog-by turning His name around. Whatever the is the answer, and also the most powerful. Basically there's nothing much to worry about, if you hv control or you don't, then just relax. Life itself is so unpredictable, why worry ...We hv a choice, choose a happy one.

    1. Just today I have a "mad dog" barking on me again when the issue is totally not related to me ... wah lao ... lun ... lun LOL

    2. Hi Cory,

      Sure you will be all fine and the one barking will be the one who cannot find the inner peace possibiy being burdened by troubles in his/her life.

    3. Hi Anonymous,

      Apologies. You are right about dog and so enlightening to know about dog's word relation to God.

      Anyway, the phrase "dog eat dog" is actually a idiom or phrase in English dictionary (which u can google), so we are not trying to fabricate any new phrase to tarnish this loving animal - dog!


    4. Noted...
      By the way...if we don't like what we painted, we could always paint another one. The most important thing is not money, is our breath. God bless.

  5. Mediation works wonder to rest your mind. LKY is a strong advocate of mediation

    1. Mediation requires two willing party and it is especially hard when the person is already strong-headed to begin with... hais

    2. Yes spiritual well being is very impt. Medidation over medication even! LOL

  6. To add on, if anyone watched train to busan movie.. The theme was also a lot on 'dog eat dog' society.. The middle aged guy who is some chief officer in a big company, he pushed his victims to be bitten up by the the vampires...

    I hope that the society is a friendlier and caring one.. And extended well beyond our families and closed ones...

    1. wow... I like the movie Train to Busan! The script / story writer probably see the evil of this world too.

      Yes the COO is bad!

      Good news is there are still love and ultimately the good will triumph!

      the average low educated guy can be very caring and sacrifice for others too...

      The selfish father repented bcos of his daugther.

      Eventually the two kind ones - pregnant lady and the little gal survived in a pre-destined manner just because of a song sung!

      Great movie. The society is no longer that friendly... no choice due to the allure of wealth and success...

      Yet, I have faith that we can still do our part to influence those back to the right path eventually....


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