Just because your partner’s a bully doesn’t mean you should be too, argues The Survivalist

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Law firms can be brutal places. For every shining example of pastoral care, every avuncular, tender partner carefully nurturing his little charges as they make their first faltering steps in the world, there’s a hard-arsed b*stard who delights in tormenting his trainees, smiling inwardly when he makes them cancel a holiday to complete a deal.

But have a care for the b*stard. As with child abuse, the abuser has, more often than not, been abused themselves. The partner who deliberately arranges the project planning meeting on a Saturday morning when his female assistant is planning to spend time with her kids is, yes, a macho bullsh*t artist who should be strung up by his balls. But he is also a towering mass of insecurity, plagued by doubt, powerless in his own eyes, exerting dominance the only way he has been taught to.

So what do you do with these people? Becoming resentful – a natural reaction – is, as a wiser man than the Survivalist once said, rather like drinking a cup of poison and expecting the other person to die.

As teeth-grindingly, stomach-curdlingly difficult as it is to do, there is only one solution: you have to rise above it. You have to be the magnanimous one. You have to be the grown-up.

If not, only one thing will happen. Ultimately, you will end up continuing the cycle of abuse. When you get a trainee, all those stored resentments, all the little humiliations and annoyances will come bubbling up, ready to be inflicted on this poor, nervous little hedgehog-thing cowering in the corner of your office.

So next time the partner throws his toys out of the pram, cancels your holiday, gets you to pick up his dry-cleaning or shouts at you in the corridor, smile beatifically, take a deep breath and then exhale all that poison.

Time to stop the cycle. You know it’s the right thing.

Stay frosty. TS

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