Focused businessman is reading through magnifying glass documen

Several years ago, my sister gave me a book about how to deal with the controlling perfectionists in our lives. She said I might benefit from an impartial description of — get this — me.


Okay, so I only had two standards: perfect and unacceptable. That didn’t make me a bad person did it?


I was the King of Malicious Compliance, and I wore the crown proudly.

Not familiar with the term malicious compliance? It’s a kind of organizational sabotage where the goal is often to get the boss fired.

Thankfully, I’ve been deposed from my throne, but here are some examples:

  • I’ve been known to rigidly comply with an order from my boss in a way I knew would cause him embarrassment. (Ask me about my M&M watch sometime.)
  • Knowing I had the correct answer, I might deliberately withhold my contribution in a discussion unless asked a direct question.
  • I could strictly adhere to mandatory office hours – just the arrival and departure times, of course – while spending the intervening hours in decidedly unproductive ways.
  • I might even do something I knew was counterproductive, just so I could say, “But you told me to do it.”

And I was pretty effective, because malicious compliance is contagious.