What is this idiotic, 'learned helplessness'-type behavior called?

We have a new boss at work. Hot babe, to be sure, but I don’t think that accounts for *all *of it.
So, people speak of her as the 8th wonder of the world. Now, her boss is obviously hot for her, so, that explains his great regard for her performance…he can’t say ‘She has great jugs, so I’m promoting her.’ And, she *is *competent. As are many of us.
Jealous? Me? You bet, but, I don’t resent her. I rather like her, as a human. I don’t care what she does, because I’m semi removed from her sphere of influence, and I’m being distanced even more. Also, I’m not asking about how to deal with it, because I’m getting what I want, currently.
What I am looking for is a short way to describe the way people are acting in regard to herI. My co-workers, mature, having had what I would call mature lives, and careers, are acting as though she is the only person competent at the job. What is horrifying, is the way people, male and female, are throwing themselves under the bus, groveling…I don’t mean groveling, wow, you’re a hot babe! Please, may I spend time in your company!!! (I’ve done that before, and can’t blame any weak-willed horny little geek that can’t get a date for being paralyzed in the presence of hotness.) Or even the “Good one, JB! You’re hilarious!” It seems that they are clinging to her, as if she is the new gold standard in the industry, if not life itself. The eerie thing is, they don’t speak of how she helped them with an issue, and there is very little talk of her magnificent body…they just act helpless. “OK, guys, ‘Nurse Anna’ (fake name/job) says that if we crap our pants, we should clean up and change! Wow! She’s a natural at knowing what to do when we take a dump in our pants! She must have done this before, and is not telling us! I think we can all learn a lot about keeping our underwear clean from Nurse Anna.” "Wowee! She said 'Life is like a box of chocolates! Just like Forest Gump! You know, guys, I really wonder if she taught the Coen brothers about film producing, because she knows all about this movie stuff! Life is like a box of chocolates!!! Ha ha! That Nurse Anna! What a hoser! Tee hee [chuckles to self '‘Life is like…’…pauses to wipe tears from eyes.]
I know, I know, hyperbole…well this ain’t hyperbole!
I won’t quote to you all what one person said, out loud, to the Great One, because, a. It might identify me and b. I would throw up, just writing it down, 2 weeks after the event. Suffice it to say, the aforementioned quotes are NOTHING compared to what was said. Milburn Drysdale, in the presence of Jed Clampett, can learn lessons from these people. Again, not hyperbole. NOT HYPERBOLE.
So, I’ve mentioned, in the thread title, the term ‘learned helplessness’. I’ve read about that, and I know that it isn’t that. So, my question is: Isn’t there a term/phrase for this kind of behaviour, this exaltation of a normal person, coupled with their own self abasement/agnegation/disregard? If so, what is it?


so who is being helpless here, learned or otherwise? It sounds like “halo effect” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect


Could it be that she really knows her shit, and that - combined with her hot-babeness - causes people to afford her extra respect? I know a woman who has been an extraordinarily hot babe all her life. She also has a very high I.Q. and is an extrememly competent manager of multiple clinics in a technically difficult health related field. Off duty, she’s pretty much a big time narcissist and party girl, rarely without a glass of wine in her hand and going through men like water through your fingers. I’ve known several people who’ve gone to work for her who knew her only by her off-duty behavior and regarded her with not a great deal of respect, only to do a complete 180 after getting to know her on the job. Now, having established that she knows what she’s talking about better than anyone else around there, they speak of her in pretty much the same way people are talking about this woman you know. Their respect is genuine and based on her considerable competency and not on the way she looks.

Now, none of this is to say that none of these people who work with her don’t want to jump her bones if they can, nor that she doesn’t get hit on regularly by other bigwigs at her company’s various out-of-town national meetings, but the respect she comes in for from her subordinates and superiors is based on her abilities and her knowledge, not on her sex appeal.

Apparently a good many people don’t mind playing dumb if it gets someone’s attention.

Being really good looking is a kind of superpower that makes people of the opposite sex who are around the good looking person behave in a deferential to borderline fawning fashion… up to a point. If the looker is incompetent they can easily become the butt of jokes, but to be both good looking and competent is a huge power up for your life prospects.

This is as old as humanity. This is why it’s sometimes a huge body blow for some very attractive women (and to a lesser degree men) to lose their looks with age or hard living, if that’s the main coin they were trading on.

Thanks for all of the answers. I was thinking that my question-rant would scare some off, or was a bit too rambling.

At any rate, I know how good looks can effect men/coworkers, but this case is to an unwarranted extent. Say, for a hot, killer babe, Sophia Loren-class, one would reasonably cut off a finger. Well, these people are cutting off their limbs, and own heads, and tearing out their own hearts, as well. And while this one is hot, she ain’t no Sophie. Ooops, forgot to add: there are plenty of hot babes in the office. At least 7/10ths are in the hot category. And her ‘competence’, and I pointed out that she is, isn’t that hot. I’m about 9/10ths as competent as her, and the rest of the people are at least 8/10ths as competent, because the job isn’t that hard. That is why I find their fawning just this side of phenomenal.
Thanks again for your replies, and I’ll get on the links right away!

Best wishes,

A thought just occurred to me: maybe she just has “charisma.” There are certain people in this world who have a personal magnetism that makes both themselves and the things they do seem especially interesting and admirable and cool. Maybe she’s one of those people.

Disclaimer: A charismatic person’s magnetism doesn’t necessarily work on everyone, and clearly if she has it, it’s lost on you. :slight_smile:

It could be.
However, I don’t think it’s charisma-my own character is so weak, that even those with very little to no charisma impress me!:eek:

Best wishes,

Maybe they appreciate her topical references.

It reminds me of the way dog packs work. You know, how the lesser dogs roll over and act submissive to the head dog.

I don’t know what you call it, but I have a relative like that. This person has been the mayor of a town for over 20 years, and has sucessfully quashed all political threats to the office.

I think a lot of politicians are like that, TBH.

I think fawning comes closest to any term I can think of.