We had some (not all, many where real nice) real peice of work toolpushers on the drillships. Real alpha dog assholes who were impossible to deal with.
I had a trick that worked every time. I would play Beta dog all the time. Always making sure I disn’t do anything that could be perceived as a challenge. They’d usually throw me a bone when they could but, every so often they’d say no just to be a jerk. And they almost always say no when you are desperate… at that point most people just start begging but,once you do that, the best he’ll do is meet you half way.
What I’d do is get the guy in a room, close the door and tell him to “sit the fuck down” and listen. I’d physically block the exit if I had to but I wouldn’t say a word untill he sat. Then, looking him straight in the eye - I’d state my case. If he hemmed and hawed I’d say “I’m not asking you to do this, I’m telling you!” Then I’d just stare him down.
The response was always the same. He’d say “I’ll give you what you want, but if you pull this shit again, I’ll hunt you down” or whatever other nonsense he came up with.
The trick is, the second he gives you the yes, sit down, look away smile and say yes sir. Go immediately back to being the beta.
What your doing is making it crystal clear that you don’t want to be an alpha dog but if he doesn’t take care of important needs you WILL challenge him.
The other critical thing is not to tell anyone. People use information to get bones from these assholes so no secret is safe… and if your behavoir becomes public he will look lkke an asshole (which will anger him).
I’ve done this a few dozen times (one guy required a biweekly “session”) but it never failed me. The real strange thing is, once the door opened back up (and I said “thank you sir”) he’d treat me like his new best friend. I could do no wrong after that and, while he himself would still withhold bones just to screw with me (and everyone else), his crew would be put on strict orders to get me anything I need.
P.S. Yeah, I know, it’s not easy (and certainly not “fun”) to pull out this trick but, if you have to work with a hothead you only have two options: fix him or quit. I always walked in ready to be fired.
P.S.2 These guys can smell fear and they may threaten to hit you (or give off strong body signals to this effect). It’s almost impossibl not to be scared if you’ve never been hit before. Your best option for not folding under intimidation is to take a few boxing lessons. It doesn’t matter if you learn o figut or not… what does matter is getting getting your bell rung a few times. Once you’ve taken a few hits in the ring the fear of getting hit at work will drop away.