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"Do what you want in your private life" power move

Hello guys,

during our evening meeting where we talk about patients, this happened:


The conversation was about how a mother had a traumatizing moment. The tall smart chief physician (I think he's a disagreeable giver, but not sure yet) told me (same spirit, shorter sentences):

  • Him: that's when you do "TLC" as a resident physician.
  • Me: "what is TLC?".
  • Him: "Tender Loving Care": You support the parent."
  • Me: Ok. I actually said blabla
  • Him: (as a "joke"): it's not "THC". We started laughing.
  • Him: you do whatever you want in your private life (as if "it's not my business" but with a mocking tone)
  • Me : laughing out loud sincerely (as if "this is a good joke" but also as if "this is a stupid remark" and I find it funny).
  • Me and a colleague: start making sincerely a joke about a patients' CBD

What do you guys think about my defense?

Of course in my conservative context it's not considered positive to smoke cannabis. So wether it's true or not, it's viewed as a negative. I think me laughing was the best move.


For me, what he did is another way of either being nosy (see asking for religion) and/or being judgmental (people smoking pot are bad people).

Other solution

Let's say I would have admitted "yes from time to time I smoke pot" (taking away the power of the attack): it would have lowered my reputation among the key players (aka the conservative management team). As a reminder, one of the other head chief made a joke one day about me smoking pot because I stumbled on a chair (I was tired and still a bit drunk from the night before). So for them it's clear that cannabis = evil drug.

What could have I done differently or better?

This goes back to vulnerability and power. Also I had a look on Internet and Tender Loving Care is more for nurses. So it's also a power move from him as in: "that's your place as an inferior on the totem pole: reassure mothers". This guy has a big ego and during the meeting I said after him: "I like this idea" and he laughed as he interpreted it: "I'm the boss and I'm validating you" as he burst out laughing and said in a mocking tone: "Ah I'm glad you like it" as in "so, you're the boss now?". I clarified my intention: "I mean: that's been a long time I want to do this." and he said: "SO DO IT!!!" in a loud voice. So he's a bit insecure around his power.

Hey John,

Overall, it seems like he really wanted to force a joke to get a laugh, and maybe throw his weight around a little bit.
Not too bad, and could also be a good sign of him liking you actually, as you don't usually do those jokes with those you dislike. It's also a sign he feels power-up enough he can make those jokes, but him being the long-standing boss, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

If you wanted to hit back, you could have said:

Him: you do whatever you want in your private life
You: (smiling, and after the smile had died down:) yeah, exactly, so let's keep that private life out of it, and back to work...

As if to say "then stop making jokes about private life", and then you move on.
A great move, and very high-power, and that's also the risk with it: it might have put you on a collision course with the boss. So politically, it was riskier. But if it worked fine, then it would have increased your status, power and respect.

Another option could have been to ask "what's THC".
Then, if he replied, you could have said "oh got it, you know it, I didn't even know about that, anyway... " as if to say "it's you the one who maybe smokes weed here".
But that could have come across as insincere, and overly naive.

P.S.: moved this into the work subforum.

"Case studies" is more for analysis and/or how to apply specific concepts, without initial questions. It's something along the lines of "here's a report of a real-life case study where you can see this dynamic and/or where this concept was applied, getting this result".

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Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?