How should I handle my “bully of a boss”? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

How should I handle my “bully of a boss”?

by on
in Admin Pro Forum

Question: When my boss assigns work, I try to go over it with him to make sure that I understand the task or offer suggestions. He often stomps, shouts, uses foul language and belittles me by interrupting and saying, “ I’m worth more than your time.”

Management apologizes for him, but takes no action. I’m not in a position to change jobs because of my age and because I need the insurance. How should I handle the situation? - Anonymous


Comments

Ask "Management" to be reassigned, poison the jerk or leave. How many assistants has this guy been through?????? If you feel like you can't leave, bullies LOVE that! A punching bag! Don't be one.

I would have someone witness the next act, and then stand up for your rights.
Sounds like he has gotten away with alot and is acting in a pre-school behavior.

I wonder if "Management" would be so appologetic for your manager if you mentioned "harassment". In the mean time, stand up for your self. Remember, bullies are usually the most insecure people around.

I have the same kind of boss and most of the time I take a deep breath and try to remain calm while he is acting like a 3 year old throwing a temper tantrum. I am also of age that I can't afford to leave. I have found that when you bind your time, evidently you can find the right opportunity to get your point across.

I was in a very similar situation and can relate to what you are going through. Ask your supervisor if you can have a one on one conversation with him and approach the subject in a way that let's him know you want to do the best possible job. If he isn't receptive to that then carry a mini tape recorder in your pocket and play it for management to hear. Then play it for the company lawyer. That should get some attention.

YOu mentioned age if you are over 40 and feel that these offensive remarks and tantrums are being demostrated due to your age you may have a "hostile work environment". I would make sure everything is documented, I know in our workplace we can only tape record as long as a notice is placed that all conversations my be recorded this way if an individual does decides to go off they have been warned. I would file a formal complaint in writing to upper management and file a request for location to a different department.
the comment “ I’m worth more than your time.” while performing his tantrum is degrading to you as a person and seems to me he thinks Assistants are nothing more than a fingernail filing airhead with nothing better to do. Don't let your age and insurance discourage you from what is right.

File a formal written complaint with your HR VP and cc the company attorney, if you know it. You might also want to cc the President of the Company. Don't be silent and take it. If the only way he hears you is to raise the volume of your voice to be heard over his tirade, then tell him point blank that you will not accept that type of treatment/language and walk away. Don't take it by any means. I hear you about the age, but no job is really worth that type of abuse.

Bite your tongue, breath deep, and look for something else while you are at it. There is always another bend in the road.

Go to http://www.eeoc.gov/. This may be your leverage. You do need to know that the EEO complaints and resolution process is lengthy, but if management and your HR department are unresponsive, this may be a route to take.

This is tricky. When you are young, you can blow this off and look for other work. When you get to a certain age, you can't (and level of experience) and shouldn't.

A lot of great suggestions. Depending where you live, you could take legal action. Harassment isn't acceptable and there are fines.

If any of this has been via email, print them out and keep them at home.

Life is to short to put up with this stuff (transfer within company if possible so not to loose seniority) and it stinks when you feel stuck.

Seek the advise of an attorney, who will probably advise you to document this inappropriate and unpreofessional behavior and language, get witnesses,& present to management. If management does nothing - that will just add nore fuel to the documentation. A letter from your attorney outlining your document history might shake management up a bit. If they let you go because you made a legitimate harrassment complaint, and you have all this documented with witnesses - you could have good cause for a lawsuit against the company & individuals. You've already complained to management - have you ever told the jerk or management that this must "stop" or you are going to seek legal intervention? Let them think about that - could mean State or Federal authorities, or ???

I too have put up with an abusive boss and felt trapped becuase of my age and insurance issues. I started looking for another position when they decided to let me go. According to them I was a poor performer. My work career expands over 40 years and never in this time span have I ever been fired from a job. I was so humiliated. But I picked up the pieces and continued to look for a new position. I am now working for the President of a fortune 500 company and have found the most wonderful boss in the world - and believe me I've worked for some real jerks. Hang in there, but do what you feel is right for you. Life is too short to be miserable.

What an awful thing this person has put you through, I feel badly for you. It's understandable that you are careful because you don't want to be fired but I hope you understand that he is getting away with it because he can. Does he have people that he respects that you could talk to about this? Also, you should never confine your future with what you "know" - there may be an ideal job for you with decent people just waiting for you but you will have to put yourself out there to find out. Lastly, there are some bosses (like the ones I have now) that respect when pushed back upon because then they know you won't take their less than professional behavior. This guy sounds like he is digging his own grave; however, you probably don't want to stick around for the funeral.

In addition to the word harassment, I want to add the word retaliation! Don't put up with this any longer! Life is too short. I suggest that you submit a formal written complaint via email to the highest level of HR in your company mentioning hostile work environment. That should kick things into motion. Certainly remember to copy your home email address and work email address. Print a copy too. Then if anything happens to your employment afterwards, seek legal counsel. If nothing is done about his behavior you still have got a hostile work environment. Seek legal counsel. you do have options and I hate to say this but sometimes the threat of legal action is just what a company who condones this behavior needs to change anything! Good luck!

Wow! What a jerk! It makes me wonder what is so special about this guy that he's still with the company. If it looks like he's there for the long haul, I definitely would look elsewhere. Life is too short to have to deal with that sort of abuse.
Please try not to let your age be a factor in finding another job. If you cannot be transferred to another area of the organization, look outside. At age 40, I changed employers (after 22 years with the same corporation) and have never been happier! Sometimes the grass IS greener elsewhere!

Simple. No one can yell at you unless you allow them to. When his temper starts to flair, simply look at him, say (calmly), "I'll come back when you have had a chance to calm down" and walk away.

Your situation seems to have hit a nerve, from the responses so far. It seems to me if you were the kind of person to threaten legal action or file a complaint with HR, you would have done so by now. That really isn't a helpful suggestion for you, is it? Legal action is often extremely lengthy and very uncertain. I believe that almost every situation can be improved by using some psychological insight. I'm afraid I agree with Sarah that, to some degree, you allow this, even though I don't want you to feel like you're being blamed. Her suggestion that you walk away, calmly commenting that you'll discuss the project at another time, is very good. You need to absent yourself from him when he bahaves like a child. Get a cup of coffee and come back in 10 minutes, saying "Would you like to discuss Project A now?" Always CYA (cover your ass) by being totally prepared, taking notes while he's talking (maybe he feels like you don't listen sufficiently well the first time he gives you the instructions). Maybe you shouild try to start the project on your own, and then email him a brief list of questions. Always CYA by saying that you cannot start the project without further direction (but only if it's true), or that you won't be able to continue the project until he responds to your email questions. Try to figure out why the company keeps him on, since he's such a HR nightmare. He must be a huge rainmaker (generates huge profits) for them to let this continue. Use your insight to figure out how to make management see he's a liability. Just examine the situation from all sides and try to work it out so that the company doesn't see you as the troublemaker, but that HE is the problem. Good luck.

I'm reading these replies and thinking how sad it is that so many admins have experienced this kind of treatment. I had one of these bosses too. I worked for this man for three long years and he made my work life a living hell for each and every day of those three years. I stayed for various reasons, primarily because of the medical insurance and because I had worked for the company for 25 years. Finally, at the age of 47, with my career and my self-confidence in tatters, I finally threw in the towel, took early retirement, and started my job hunt, figuring anything had to be better than working for him. It's been 6 years now, and I'm working for some wonderful people who respect and appreciate me. Please start looking for a new job....you also deserve better than this.....I wish you the best.

If you can afford it, it would be wise to seek an attorney just so you may know what to expect if you filed a formal complaint at work. They will know your rights and be able to advise you through the situation. But once you say the word harrasment at work, people will respond, in a big way. If you're not up for that I would figure out a way to get through you day and look for another job. You are not giving yourself enough credit and looking never hurts. Even if he was spoken to, do you think he would change or would he continue to be a baby and make your life just as miserable because you had him talked to by his manager. Get out, you will be relieved.

Try setting up an appointment with him in which you describe for him how you react to his behaviors--that his berating, foot-stomping, etc., cause you to lose focus of the directions he is giving you. Tell him if he would present his information, direction to you without all the histrionics, the work you do for him will likely be improved. If that doesn't work, pursue it through your local HR, more formal channels.

Start writing down these incidents and keep them in a safe place---well, maybe several places. You have a lot of time in with the company and you are an older person, so I understand the position you are in. I have no idea where this manager is coming from, but he does breach the professionalism he is supposed to portray. If you can get witnesses, even better. An opportune time will come up (as it always does) for relaying these incidents to him. Try to be as diplomatic as possible while explaining that you do not appreciate his behavior (while you actually hate it). If that doesn't get his attention, then perhaps it will get the attention of his boss and so on. I agree that what you are experiencing is harrassment, and documentation is your best weapon. Good luck.

If you hate you job I know if can effect your whole life. I don't think it's worth that. Even though you say you won't take your job home with you the attitude goes. I know my husband hated his job and what a difference when he changed jobs and then wondered I he didn't do it 4 years earlier. It really changed life at home as well.

Good Luck!!!

It's unfortunate that there are people in the workplace with this attitude. I think you need to put him in his place in a calm and rational manner. Let him know that you are trying to save him time by getting the job done correctly the first time. If you handle yourself professionaly, but stand up for yourself, hopefully he will realize his own ignorance. If not, hang in there while you are looking for another position.

Please don't feel that you should not seek other employment because of your age. At 53 I also got sick and tired of my *poison* boss and am now working for a fabulous boss who respects me and treats me like a *real* person. My former supervisor would scream and berate me in front of other employees, threaten me all the time with insubordination when I tried to calmly stick up for myself, etc. What you must realize is that it's THEM, not YOU. I am the same person I always was, with the same good work habits/ethics, so why was one person so unhappy with me, and another so pleased? Go figure. You can also try temp-to-perm staffing companies, they are usually very good at placing experienced employees.

Please don't feel that you should not seek other employment because of your age. At 53 I also got sick and tired of my *poison* boss and am now working for a fabulous boss who respects me and treats me like a *real* person. My former supervisor would scream and berate me in front of other employees, threaten me all the time with insubordination when I tried to calmly stick up for myself, etc. What you must realize is that it's THEM, not YOU. I am the same person I always was, with the same good work habits/ethics, so why was one person so unhappy with me, and another so pleased? Go figure. You can also try temp-to-perm staffing companies, they are usually very good at placing experienced employees.

Don't stay. I agree with Sarah, that you should let your boss know that you'll talk with him when he's calmed down. If that doesn't work, start looking! I had a boss who was the owner in a 4 person shop. He treated me and everyone terribly. One day it was too much and I walked out. I filed for unemployment because he verbally harrassed me, and couldn't get it. I went to a temp to hire company and had a few assignments through that, and found a nice place to work. DON'T take it! Life is too short. I too was in my 50's when this occurred.

I agree with a previous poster. Sometimes it's just figuring out what's going on psychologically. I too once had a boss who was known for his temper tantrums. We worked fine together for the first few months but then I did something he didn't like and he began berating me, kicking things and swearing. Once he took a breath, I just calmly told him that if he was yelling, swearing and kicking things to make a point, there was no need. The point was made. Otherwise, I would appreciate it if he would calm down so we could move on to fixing the issue. Turns out, he thought that was an affective way of management (I also think he was startled to be told that he was yelling, swearing and kicking things). When I pointed out that it wasn't an effective way of managing ME, we got along great after that. I just had to continue to call him on it if he ever started backsliding again.

We call ourselves Professional Assistants, but I have never seen so many mispelled words (typos) as I see in these responses. (not only the ones above, but in all of the responses.) I hope everyone takes more care in proofreading their work. Typos make us look inefficient and keep us from moving ahead.

Now on to the problem at hand - I am 64 years old and recently started a new job with two wonderful bosses. Life is too
short to spend at least 8 hours a day being miserable. The money and insurance is very important, but there ARE other jobs out there. You just need to network and get out and start looking. Good luck.


Sandy,
You have to be kidding me. Mispelled should be misspelled. Your parenthetical sentence should be capitalized. I hope that you hope "everyone" takes more care with his or her work. As for me, the money and insurance are very important.

Lisa, you've just made my day. LOL!

I was wondering if anyone would catch my mistakes. They were intentional to make a point. Yes, money and insurance are very important, but at the expense of being battered? There are many jobs out there where you can have money, insurance and respect!

All the above comments are excellent. You should document everything and let him know that you're tape recording the conversation -- that will probably make him stop and think.

I would also come up with a strong statement of response. Memorize it and say it every time he begins his tirade. Here's an idea of what to say: "I won't be treated this way. When you're ready to speak to me in a calm manner as an adult, then I'll listen to you." Then turn and walk away. It will take all the strength you can muster, but you'll become stronger every time you say it, and he'll know that he can't bully you anymore.

Document everything!

I had a boss that called me stupid. I got up, got my purse, walked out and then started receiving phone calls from her on my cell, home, my parents home. Didn't return the calls. Came back the next morning and said "I will never be treated like that again - is that understood"...25 years later - I still work for the person and have her respect.

Everything I've needed to know if life I learned in kindergarten............seriously.
I was an aide to several wonderful mature kindergarten teachers for several years and they have to deal with redirecting bad behaviors all the time.
1) Document...when you email your issues to HR, management, etc. or take notes copy or print and send a copy to your home address. When it arrives DO NOT OPEN it. That way you have a sealed document that is dated by the postmark. Proving this has not been altered after the fact. This important fact was taught to me by the wife of a judge.
2) Find a simple statement such as one that Sarah Myers used... When his temper starts to flair, simply look at him, say (calmly), "I'll come back when you have had a chance to calm down" and walk away. EVERY time his behavior call for it use this method, and document. Step out for a break/breather, come back in a couple of minutes and go back to your desk. Before long your boss will be calling you back in to continue. Using the SAME EXACT words is very primary/kindergarten, but it works!!! Remember repetition is what taught us our ABC's and numbers that we have never forgotten. By repeating this EXACT statement everytime you are not allowing yourself to attack the person, only the behavior. You are detaching yourself from the upsetting behavior and taking control of your emotions.

NOTE: This works wonderfully on teenagers
also.

Olivia - you had a cell phone 25 years ago???

Leave a Comment