How to Cope With Bureaucracy – Free Ebook

many of us grow up in families that very carefully look after our needs but one of the ambiguous achievements of having been well parented is that a child comes to assume that other people all other people will always be alert to what they want and feel that our genuine requirements properly stated will always meet with recognition and understanding but inevitably as we grow into adults we slam into something much more frightening the rigid indifference of the wider world a parking ticket won’t be waived because you’re in a hurry and need to pop into the corner shop to buy a lemon the tax office won’t say we understand you’ve been a bit stress recently so why don’t you just return your details when you can we know how it is citing these kinds of needs makes perfect sense in intimate relationships but it’s hopeless as soon as we cross the boundary from personal dealings to a zone that dominates the modern world and can be broadly summed up under the term bureaucracy bureaucracy is an ever-present ever fertile source of agitation in our lives you’re calling the phone company to change your payment plan they want to know your online account number which you’ve forgotten but you do have your password your address your mother’s maiden name and information about your first pet a collie kelpy cross called Pippy unfortunately this won’t suffice the surface person doesn’t doubt your identity you both know it would be bizarre for an impostor to attempt to use your credit card to reduce a payment on a phone connection but without the particular account number you can’t proceed it’s maddening not just because it’s time-consuming and inconvenient it sets off fundamental alarm bells because it’s bringing one into a situation where compassion understanding and human connections have no power whatsoever to solve problems where who you are in other words a pretty decent honest and well-meaning individual doesn’t matter in the least the deeper stress is that the details of your life count for nothing against the purely formal requirements of an administrative system the evolution of bureaucracy is a major develop and of the last 200 years in traditional societies power used to be personal and the relationships to people intimate the clan chief knew and was related to all the governed there was therefore always a sense even if it might have been frustrated in practice that one might be able to sway the powerful to one’s cause the downside was that opportunities for favoritism nepotism and bribery were endless there was constant special pleading and exceptions to the rules but at least when you were up against it you had a chance that a real human might listen to your cries bureaucracy has on the whole been an enormous achievement a logical fair dispassionate machine for dealing with large numbers of people without fear or favor this was the point beautifully articulated by the German sociologist Max Weber at the end of the 19th century Weber argued that government and industry became modern when operating on a vast scale it introduced universal fairness instituting systematic processes and standardizing rules so that there would be correct ways of doing everything it would no longer matter who your uncle was or who your sister was married to bureaucracy is a fine achievement of maturity but it can appoints lead to very painful conflicts with the specific contours of individual cases this is the nightmare of being trapped in an unheated deaf cold cage but the apparent unresponsiveness of bureaucracy is rarely brought about by a deliberate desire to ignore people’s particular situations it’s an unfortunate unavoidable byproduct of good and reasonable intentions one specific needs are being ignored in a broad interests of fairness and keeping a big complex undertaking going it’s not as our panic reaction sometimes suggests that bureaucracy is out to get us or that those who manage it are in themselves soulless sadists the explanation is strangely banal it’s at the price of an overall drive to efficiency is that some small percentage of cases will become horror entangled and blocked but one can feel like wholly obtuse reasons the calming move is to see such unfortunate incidents as inevitable rather than as avoidable of France if we take it for granted that the bureaucracies we deal with banks utility companies Airlines governments will be significantly inefficient five percent of the time we will understand that every so often our dealings with them are sure to get tangled the foundation of a newfound calm is understanding an historical perspective being calm doesn’t mean that one thinks a situation is agreeable or interesting it just means that one knows one would only add to the difficulties by fuming and seething which stated in the abstract can sound like a very small development but when we recall the many times of soul churning rage at the hands of bureaucracies such calm reveals itself as a huge and deeply benign piece of wisdom to aim for you

Leave a Reply