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Tangling with Tyrants: Managing the Balance of Power at Work
by Tony Deblauwe
Pagefree Publishing, Inc.
March 9, 2009
Work for a bad boss? Has your productivity and job satisfaction suffered? It's time to make a change! Tangling with Tyrants: Managing the Balance of Power at Work gives you field-tested techniques to create an effective communication strategy with your boss, turn things around, and get your power back.
2009 Winner Readers Favorite Book Award
2010 Winner Rebecca's Reads Literary Award
2010 Winner Reader Views Literary Award
2010 Winner Axiom Business Book Award
"Tony Deblauwe's approach to dealing with an abrasive, domineering boss is both insightful and inspired."
—LAURA CRASHAW, author of Taming The Abrasive Manager
"Tangling with Tyrants offers hope and alternatives for people who may think quitting is the only option for dealing with a bad boss."
— FOREWORD MAGAZINE
"This book is a terrific and practical guide to dealing with bosses, and demonstrates a remarkable talent by Deblauwe to understand where key elements of power are focused in the workplace."
"Tangling with Tyrants identifies and explains dysfunctional relationship roles, what behaviors will adversely affect an employee, and actually changing the relationship dynamics with enduring, practical, applicable solutions."
— MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
Do you dread going to work because of your boss? Quitting is not always an option and feeling like a victim of a bad boss only robs you of productivity, job satisfaction, and—ultimately—power.
Career strategist and workplace guru Tony Deblauwe has spent years coaching weary employees how to be more effective with difficult bosses, and he has compiled his experiences into this indispensable guide. Tangling with Tyrants®: Managing the Balance of Power at Work offers practical techniques that show you how to build a communication process that will turn things around to help you build successful outcomes.
You’ll get guidance on addressing direct and indirect bad boss behaviors, developing the right approach, and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes. Employees, bosses, and coaches alike will benefit from the content.
Foreword from Tangling with Tyrants: Managing the Balance of Power at Work
Tony Deblauwe's book, Tangling with Tyrants, is a welcome addition
to the (too slowly) growing body of practical and effective strategies for
dealing with toxic managers and workplaces.
Tony combines personal insights with his experience as a human
resources professional, offering readers strategies for recognizing and
dealing with "Tyrants." His book furnishes employees with a guide to
understanding how their own behaviors and attitudes can, wittingly
or unwittingly, mitigate or exacerbate friction between them and their
Through the use of examples and short practical exercises,
Tangling with Tyrants offers readers specific techniques for managing
their manager where practical, for getting the job done despite their
managers, for avoiding the emotional battering that working with
a toxic manager can often precipitate and for moving on where
While some Tyrants are indeed nasty people, others are not.
As Tony accurately points out, these folks are not necessarily malicious
or out to "get" their subordinates. They may instead simply be badly
trained, poorly suited to their positions, under pressure from their
own managers or unaware of the impact that they're having on their
Indeed, as Tony also points out, the issue may not be one of
"Tyrant" versus victim, but simply one of differing styles. There the
choice becomes learning to modify style to work effectively with the
manager, or moving on to a manager whose style complements your
In short, Tangling with Tyrants offers a practical, level-headed
approach to dealing effectively with interpersonal problems in the
The worst job I ever had was last summer at an electronic retailer where I worked for a girl my age, half my size, and with a nauseating chip on her shoulder. She was a nice person, but a terrible boss; a tyrant, you might say. I certainly wish that I'd had Tony Deblauwe's book back then, when it might have saved me from a nasty breakup with what was otherwise a perfectly respectable, and even fun, job.
"Tangling with Tyrants" is a terrific and practical guide to dealing with bosses just like these, and demonstrates a remarkable talent by Deblauwe to understand where key elements of power are focused in the workplace and how to manipulate them to your advantage. The book is small (roughly a hundred pages), with compact chapters you can read during your break while you're huffing over your latest altercation. Each chapter ends with a short exercise that will help you gain control of your emotions by recognizing the specific source of the problem. Depending on whether your boss's arrogance, stress level, or just plain bullying is the cause of the issue will determine your response. And Deblauwe is eager to rush headlong against each issue with fearless vigor. His confidence in these methods is contagious.
Of course, like most books dedicated to self-improvement, the main point boils down to positive thinking, which is so often easier said than done. The author recognizes this, and avoids the cliched niche writing of offering you multiple breathing exercises and different ways of travelling to your happy place. "Tangling with Tyrants" is practical. It offers case studies, books for further reading, and the requisite Chinese proverbs. These elements dutifully draw from the book's predecessors (Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale) while also offering unique insights and helpful methods which can absolutely get you ahead, if well practiced.
Like any self-help book, you'll get out of "Tangling with Tyrants" precisely what you put into it. It can be your saving grace or just another dust trap beneath your pencil holder. The author offers several routes to success which are often dependent on your own personality as much as the boss that has become your albatross. In my particular case, "Tangling with Tyrants" might suggest that my boss wasn't a true bully, but merely responding to the pressures under her own boss who was a bully. (This, I witnessed several times.) In that regard, recognizing the balance of power would have helped me sympathize with my boss, and I could have responded more appropriately than I did. Later chapters will outline the process of coming up with a solution, and yes, quitting is among them, but only as a last resort. For those wishing to put forth the effort necessary to turn the tides of a negative working environment "Tangling with Tyrants" is a pivotal first step, and goes far beyond simply being a good read. This is a text book with a specialized focus on putting you one rung closer to the top of your career ladder, and once it's learned it keeps working, rung after rung after rung.