Maire's Answer: When executives choose to act like children, employees need to be the adults. This means refusing to be mistreated, while avoiding career-ending confrontations. Here’s how to handle it:
• The simplest strategy is to deprive your volatile VP of the reaction he seeks. Abusers are rewarded by fearful or angry responses. If you consistently remain calm and businesslike during these tirades, he may eventually quiet down.
• A more daring approach is to politely call time out whenever he launches an attack. However, you must warn him about this plan. During a peaceful moment, explain that you can’t concentrate when he’s upset, so in the future, you are going to take a short break if the conversation becomes heated.
• Your third choice is to rat him out. Tell the president about the VP’s behavior and ask for his assistance. As the boss, he’s ultimately responsible for this guy’s job performance.
For additional Office Coach advice on dealing with explosive managers, see How to Handle a Hothead Boss. If all else fails, start planning your departure. As you have already learned in your personal life, continuing to tolerate abuse is not an acceptable choice.