How to Break Unfair Rules and Not Get Punished

Disclaimer: This article is about rules, not laws. It is not intended to be legal advice in any form.

To say that all rules in life are set to perfection would be an over-generalization.

There are rules which don’t have distant foresight guiding their governance over behavior. There are also rule-makers who fail to recognize their rules to be objectively irresponsible and unfair. This article does not encourage you to break rules, but it doesn’t cast judgment on those who decide to either. It is not easy for outsiders to judge your specific situation with clarity, thereby the decision of whether you should break a certain rule in life is entirely yours to assess and make.

The rules you have your sights on breaking may be rules at work, rules in school, or other rules which govern the behavior of individuals in a certain place and time.

Going against what is laid down by people of authority is a dangerous thing to do. All rules operate with punishment looking over their shoulder, ready to strike. Those who break rules are almost always met with some form of punishment for doing so. Punishment is what empowers rules in their governance of human behavior.

Escaping the punishing effects of breaking rules is thereby a difficult thing to do. If your decision has been made, then some pointers will help you sway those who wield the ability to punish toward adopting a kinder state of mind.


A Reputation of Following the Rules to a T

Building up a reputation of being a loyal rule follower will make a case for breaking a certain rule easier to make. Those we perceive to be great at following our rules, develop a certain respect from us. As someone who sets the rules of a certain environment, you’d be likelier to respect the thoughts of a person who has a solid track record of following your rules, rather than someone new to the setting at hand. The person who developed a track record in following your rules would have proven their desire to submit to your good judgment. Their outcry would perhaps send the message that your judgment in enforcing some of your rules may in fact be a little off.

When preparing to break certain rules in life, analyze whether you can make a solid case for having a reputation of being a good rule follower in that setting. Have the people who enforce the rules at hand seen proof of you being a good rule follower? Would you be able to use your experience of abiding by all the rules whilst explaining away your slight deviation from that behavior?

Developing a solid reputation of following the rules would help you not be perceived as a rebel. Rather, it will add onto to your case (which is mentioned below) of presenting an argument as to why eliminating the rule in question is more beneficial to the people who govern the environment you’re in. Maintaining a good reputation of following rules in the eyes of enforcers will do well in aligning you to be on the same “team” as them.


Be Sensitive to Rules the People Around You Dislike Following

There is power in numbers whilst making a case for why your breaking of a rule was a right thing to do. With particularly unpopular rules, there are often others who aren’t fans of the rule you broke. For instance, perhaps you had a conversation with a few people in the halls about the odd decision for your professor to ban all food and drink in your classroom. Your experience in speaking to those people would help your case if you decided to bring a bottle of water into the room and place it on your desk. Present the reasons other people gave for not liking the rule in question without outing their identities to the people who enforce that rule.

Having numbers on your side, even if they are anonymous, will only improve a case for a certain rule needing to be abolished. The people who take your stance on the issue will be grateful for you voicing their honest opinions without outing their identities. They will have their voices be heard without the risk in identifying who that voice belongs to. They’d be likelier to defend you and take your side should you receive punishment from the person who enforces the rule many find to be unfair. At the very least, they would be put off by your act of being punished for breaking a rule they agree shouldn’t exist in the first place.


Have Reasons for Breaking Rules Which Are More Beneficial Than the Rules Themselves

Lastly, strive to remain in the perspective of the people enforcing rules when you break them. Since you’re the one who would be in the wrong, all your efforts should be directed toward making a case as to why your act of breaking that rule is actually more beneficial to the classroom, office, or swimming pool that you find yourself in. Your act of breaking rules should be connected to the need to abolish those rules as much as possible. The role you’d want to assume in cases such as this would be a helper of both, the people who are expected to follow rules, as well as the people enforcing them.

Present reasons for why abolishing a certain rule would be more beneficial to the people who enforce them. For instance, continuing with the example above, make a case for why allowing food and drinks in the classroom would help limit the distractions of people walking in and out of the room to get a drink of water. Present your act of breaking rules as an opportunity to analyze whether the rule in place is indeed mutually beneficial to all parties involved. The key, is to focus more on the people who enforce rules seeing benefit from the abolishment of a certain rule. Try to limit voicing ways in which you would personally benefit, and stick to the benefits everyone involved would witness.

The breaking of certain rules is an effective method in communicating that you’re serious about the rule being unfair. In order to be effective in your presentation of that stance, maintain a good reputation, be in tune with others’ opinions, and present solid reasoning from the perspective of those who enforce the unfair rules in question.

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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.