‘Drill sergeant’ boss is killing my confidence

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in Your Office Coach

Question:  “For three years, I have worked for an attorney who makes me feel like an idiot. He is a former Marine who still has a drill sergeant mentality. His comments are so cutting that I constantly feel defeated and inadequate. Unfortunately, he is completely set in his ways and is not going to change. All his law partners know that he’s difficult, but they won’t do anything because he’s one hell of a lawyer. I’ve been a successful legal secretary for 25 years, but this man has me doubting my abilities. How can I keep my sanity?”  —Worn Down

Answer:
Your boot-camp boss may be quick to criticize and slow to praise, but if you’ve lasted three years, he must be pleased with your work.  Otherwise, you would have been gone long ago.  

You’re correct to assume that change is unlikely, because demanding, autocratic managers lack insight and resist feedback.  And since this guy is a highly successful partner in the firm, no one else has the leverage to demand better behavior.  

If you choose to stay, remember that your boss’s caustic comments aren’t personal.  That’s just the way he talks.  Since you won’t be receiving any accolades from him, look for other ways to bolster your self-confidence.  

But if working for this sharp-tongued lawyer continues to leave you stressed and depressed, begin searching for a boss who will make you feel valued and appreciated.  

Having a tough time with your manager?  For coping tips, see Five Types of Difficult Bosses.

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