5 Types of Bad Boss and How to Handle Them

Science attracts so many different and quirky personalities that you are bound to have a problem with some people. But when your boss is the problem, its a big problem for you.

So what do you do when you don’t get along with your boss?

Well sometimes the best advice is really to just move on to a position or environment more suited to your personality. But in many cases, if you can understand your boss’ personality trait, and how to deal with that personality type, it can help.

So here are some of different types of particularly difficult personality traits I have found in managers I have worked with, along with a few ways to get along with each type of person.

1. “Did I hear that right?” The passive aggressive personality

Passive aggressiveness is a strategy used when a person basically isn’t able to confront issues directly so instead will use indirect means of criticizing you. It could be in the form of comments or actions that make you question yourself or cause you to make mistakes.

It is difficult to address because oftentimes it may be seen as you “taking it the wrong way” and so others may not always see the problem.
The only way to deal with passive aggressive behavior is to recognize it and address it at the time it is happening. You do not need to be rude or aggressive back. Simply let the person know that their comment was not ok and that their rudeness is not necessary.

The idea is to bring their behavior out into the open. You will feel good about defending yourself without resorting to back-biting or complaining and chances are that once they realize that it doesn’t work on you, they will stop.

2. Manipulative personality

Some managers can demonstrate qualities of manipulative behavior. This is particularly common where there is large power difference with regards to education or authority.

You are the reportee are anxious to make your boss happy and to prove your worthiness. You may find that you are saying yes to things without really wanting too. The problem is that this type of boss may not be looking out for your best interest but their own and so have you running off in multiple directions and not focused on your career goals.

In a way this feels like a compliment because you are taking care of so much and feel validated in your job. But it is important to know when it has gone too far and now you are not progressing in the direction you set for yourself. The most critical thing is to learn to recognize when it is happening and then to address the specific situation with your boss privately.

It may be uncomfortable if you are not used to speaking up, but you will develop great skills in managing others (managing up) and with a little skill and patience you can be sure to keep your career on track while still making the boss look good.

Setting boundaries at the beginning is key.

3. The unfocused boss

Having a supervisor that lacks focus can be exhausting for the people reporting to him or her.

This type of boss has so much energy and wants to do everything and wanted it done yesterday. They commit constantly to more projects without checking with the people who actually do the work. Their positive energy is infectious and it is great to be so productive.

The problem occurs when you start projects or experiments every day. Priorities change daily, or sometimes hourly, and you can’t finish a task before a new one is put upon you. The only way to keep up is to work very long hours and even then your head is barely above water. This type of situation will lead to burnout if not handled timely.

The best way to address this situation is to have a talk with the boss and have prepared a list of every project you have going and where it is at in terms of being finished and the deadline if there is one.

Explain how you prioritized the list and what you feel are the most important projects to complete before taking on more. If the boss wants to add more to your list, give them an honest assessment as to when it can be started. When they insist it must be started earlier, ask them which project on this list should we bump off?

The idea is to bring to their reality all of the commitments so they can understand the volume of work on your plate. You need to be firm when stating that you simply cannot take on another project until projects x, y, and z get done.

They want to keep you working hard for them and making them look great. You just need to restore your sanity and feel good about having a job well done instead of 20 jobs all done poorly.

This type of boss often does not realize the extent of your frustration until you discuss it so it may come as a shock when you finally draw the line.

4. The micro-manager boss

Depending on the type of worker you are, a micro-manager can be a benefit or a nightmare. If you like to have a lot of direction and attention, you won’t mind a micro-manager at all. However, if you prefer to work independently, you will not be a good match with a micro-manager.

This type of supervisor will check in with you every 5-15 minutes to see how you are progressing. You know you are in trouble when the boss positions your desk or cubicle as close to their office as possible.

To survive micro-management, you can try a couple of techniques. One is to find another place to focus on your work; whether you need to read papers or work on a powerpoint presentation, find an empty conference room where you can focus without being disturbed. If leaving your desk is not an option, try putting on headphones or listening to your ipod (even if it is off) as an indicator that you are focused and can’t be disturbed.

If the constant interruptions are occurring in the lab, set the time to go off in a 1-2 minutes. If you are being called to the boss’ office while trying to get your lab work done, bring the timer with you and let them know you only have a few minutes before you need to get back to your samples.

5. The put-down boss

I saved this for last because this is probably the worst situation of all. It is difficult to handle a supervisor who rules by negative reinforcement. Most people will not last under these circumstances and who would want to?

The best approach is to make sure you do not work for someone like this.

During the interview, make sure to talk to others in the group or lab and also, you may want to check references for the boss with others who worked with this person and left the group.

But if you do find yourself in a situation where you have to be subjected to verbal insults, if you are not overly intimidated, try speaking to the person about it and give specific examples of when their language was inappropriate or crossed the line. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the situation, it would be best to leave, plain and simple. No job is worth the anxiety and stress of dealing with abuse.

The workplace is a dynamic place with many differing personalities all needing to work together. It is not uncommon that two people just don’t click or that personality clashes will occur.

The answer to any uncomfortable situation with a boss or co-worker is always to be positive and to be constructive. Focus on the problem and not the person. Focus on how to work together and not how to get the other person to change – because they won’t. I can’t stress enough how important it is to leave any job with relationships intact.

Never insult the boss or management or retaliate on your way out. That is the surest way to never be hired again.

I only listed a few personality types that I have seen during my working years or as reported to me by colleagues. How about you? Do you need help handling a situation at your lab or office?

Originally published 17 March 2009. Updated and republished 10 December 2014.

47 Comments

  1. Billy on May 8, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    I have a passive aggressive manager that doesn’t give a dang if you like his attitude or not. He makes inappropriate comments, sometimes even racist comments about every race or color group. He manages to get away with doing this because he is buddies with HR management so not really a lot can be said or done. This same manager will also not hire women or people who’s name he cannot pronounce. I have watched him for 3 years put down a coworker for his weight, his family issues, and anything else the manager can find to belittle him. I’m currently stuck in this situation until I can find a job that pays as well as this one since some of the passive aggressive behavior has now been directed toward me since I disaggreed with him one time in 3 years.

  2. N on May 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Recently I’ve come across a situation at work where I became very sick. I’m in the process of switching meds, (antidepressants) and the withdrawal symptoms are beyond horrible.
    My boss knows my religious affiliation, and he also knows the meds I’m on. Last week I said I can’t work like this I feel like crap. First he says ok go home, second he says starting 5/8 I need you to be here etc… I said let me see how I feel after taking a break in the next 30 min. His response was go see a Dr. and I dnt need you here if your worthless. Which really pissed me off. With all the crap going on that’s the last thing I need to hear, especially since I’m very hardworking. I’ve thought abt going to HR, and talking to them. But I need a job, I help my family and it’s hard enough to find work these days for minority. I dnt wish on anyone the symptoms I’ve had, or treatment I’ve had. U can’t change the religion or race you associate with. But some ppls asshole comments are ridiculous. He did come up to me after 10 min of that happening wen I was crying at my desk, Becuz any normal human being would feel hurt given they put their 110% in their work and my body was adjusting to meds.

  3. Narina Sigma on March 19, 2017 at 4:19 am

    Hi, I am a frustrated architect, worried about how to set boundaries to my PhD supervisor who has accepted my application to help him at his design class two weeks ago. Everything was fine during the first two classes although I was sceptical when, in what I at first felt as an effort to approach and get more friendly with me, he mentioned a few- not very personal – but quite detailed things about the house he grew up and lives in, his disagreement with local government about the high taxes he needs to pay – a common problem in Greece where I live that we all have to face. Writing this down I realise it doesnt sound awkward but what I felt was that my supervisor he was beginning to send mixed messages. He was chatting as if we were friends but Due to my position and relation to him I felt that I was required only to listen and be interested as i felt it inappropriate to talk about my own financial troubles.. I was a little bit stressed the following days but could not understand why. So far though i was a little bit worried but nothing more. The next time we met at class he asked me if I would be comfortable to address him not in plural but by his first name ( which in greek is used as a way to show respect and also maintain a kind distance). I was not very comfortable but i said ok. again the following days I was upset wondering if i am crazy to feel flattered but also worried and unsure about all this friendliness. During the next lesson while in class at some point he sat next to me and told me that I could participate and comment as much as I want and told me not to hesitate. I was not stressed by that as I felt that it was trully a suppottive gesture and I felt appreciated. At the end of the same day he elaborated and told me that he considers me to be an equal partner in this class, that he is not the typical proffessor worried about ierarchy and power and that he considers me to be his equal partner in this collaboration. But right after he was quite patronising telling me ” go girl, speak up and particupate more… Find some courage, go go go”. That night altough i was telling my husband what a cool guy he is not worrying about exercising power,I was feeling hyper and confused wondering and judging me for feeling stressed for no reason. I was also sceptical about the fact that he also told the students that they can address him with his first name and not in plural, which I found very awkward and uneccessary, even hypocritical as it would be very difficult for a student to actually do this and speak to their professor the way they speak to their friends. My anger and frustration were raised when directly after that in the next class he stood me and the students up and we had to wait for him for half an hour. I was placed in a difficult position, felt underestimated and had to wait with the students in a corridor unable to answer any questions about why we are running late as I was not informed. I felt that this was a power exhibition and it was totally opposite to his words. He appeard half an hour late but did not even say sorry. I was angry but unfortunately supressed it and this resulted in me having a panick attack during the class and struggling not to show. I was very upset and i felt unappreciated and insulted, taken for granted. The next time I had difficulty to go to class and I had to work hard with myself to find the courage. I did go and there was another attempt to remove boundaries. While in class and listening to a students presentation he leaned and said “i am attending a convention on Monday, so manage the class on your own. Ok? You are good, you ve got this…” At first I was surprised and by just announcing it to me in such a way he never gave me the chance to discuss this or ask me if I wanted to fo it or not. i I have 10 year teaching experience so my problem was not that I do not feel confident to teach the class, my problem is this patronising behaviour. I somehow managed to say that I am not so sure about thuis and at that point he told me to have a brief meeting at the end of the class. I went ti his office and he was very patronising again telling me that I exagerate by thinking about it, that i was very good so what was my problem, adking me ” isnt it a shame for the students to miss the class” as if i was responsible for the problem and not his absense. He was treating me like a child and a weirdo fir saying no to this opportunity. He was also sarcastic when I used plural agsin in an attempt to set some boundaries between us again. He was also saying “push yourself a little, show some courage” etc. i was very upset but said i would let him know soon. He was treating me like some nutcase and seemed disappointed when i was leaving so after a few hours I called and said i would do it. I regreted it the same minute. Anyway he said he was going to call me the next day after speaking to the secretary to let me know the arrangments for picking up the classroom key and laptop. This was Friday and i am still waiting for his call! I am extremelly angry at him and myself for not sticking to my initial denial and I am very very frustrated and agitated, unable to sleep as I simply dont want to go in on Monday. I am very angry and worried. I know i am quite sensitive as I come from a family with serious boundary issues and i am constantly questioning if i am over reacting.. I dont know what to do as he is attending a convention abroad and i trully, really do not want to do the class on monday… but now i have said yes and how can I go back on this desicion. Also i am worried because all this behaviour is suported and related to his left political approach, so he is exhibiting this, for me, lack of stability and boundaries as a free and liberating framework when I believe that these are only wishful words and idealised thoughts and in reality the lack of boundaries produces stress and anger. I dont know what to do. Felling scared, angry, guilty and questioning weather i am over reacting even if I feel I have a true point here. Thank you in advance for any help and comment…

    • mallory on April 9, 2017 at 9:48 am

      As Nancy Reagan said, “Just say no.”

  4. Angela on December 26, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    I just started a job and my senior is so rude to me, always seeing the negative side, very controlling and wants things done in unrealistic times. All is crisis and Urgent. Besides that she is the bosses wife’s best friend. She cannot handle or complete any task I have to do but I can hers. I do more the financial side like daily cash ups, which she has no clue about. She lied to me on Friday and I could finally give proof. She told me our labour consultant said in his report that I did not see to the guests checking in. I just know this is not true and can confirm on our booking grid that we had no customers those two days especially cos it was our staff year end and we closed at 3. I do not trust her and lost respect in how she abusively manages. The problem is she has spun lies to the owners and making coming to work unbearable. I actually like what I do and work hard and always keep smiling but with her depression and serious unhappiness will be ripe.
    I wish I could leave and watch her struggle alone. Maybe she will appreciate what people Contribute towards a successful business.

    I am so tired of people that have seriously bad managing skills and still get supported.

    Besides her turning alot of business away she is purchasing expensively and can bring costs down considerably.

    Tried of having to start over but same time do not know how to keep working with her.

    PLEASE HELP ME MAKE SENSE OF HER PERSONALITY AND WAYS TO HANDLE A RESPONSE WHERE I DON’T WANT TO RIP HER HEAD OFF.

  5. soultana on November 25, 2016 at 1:44 am

    I work at a local company and my boss mentally abusing me. One day he called me gypsy. The Girl sitting next to me was shocked by his behavior, and she looked at me, like say something to him. I ignored him. only because I need to survive. Now he talk nasty things to me indirectly in front of other employees. I am looking for another work were I can be respected, and go home in peace at night, because this clown I work for, is not worth it.!
    I am also thinking in starting my own business from home cause I am tired working for paranoid mentally ill people. Most companies I have worked for, hire paranoid and rood people, who making you nervous. Thinking their fright will make employees better workers. This kind of characters, are alcoholics, paranoid mentally ill people! A reasonable manager will communicate well and he/she will make you feel comfortable mentally, and function with a clear mind. Having paranoid lunatic as your boss, in your mind, is not work going to work!

    • John on December 10, 2016 at 2:32 am

      SOULTANA – you have to stand up for yourself, simple as that. If you dont do that then it will never stop. You dont have to yell and get into a fight, but next time he makes a snide comment to you, simply say “please dont talk to me that way” and see what he says. If he is your typical bully he will not answer or walk away – he backed down. If he has a personal issue with you he may escalate what he said, but thats ok because he clearly doesnt respect you now and doing nothing about it wont make him respect you.

  6. A.mercury on November 11, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Hi there . I have been working in a very good orginsation for almost 6 years happily with my managers and work friends . Till that bad moon day have arrived . A new boss just arrived . Well although I consider my self as survived employee with all the changes happend but with this boss I feel speechless and hopeless and my dreams just got killed. He always talk negative about any comments I made in meetings . He love to show that I can’t do the job and some one else can do . And finally he brought someone to be my boss 🙁 and close any chance for me to move forward in my career. Honestly After a good years of success I feel so down in away that I even don’t want to move forward any more . I even can’t sleep at night cuz of him ! Because I know how he is good to destroy my dreams every day and day. If any one can advise ! That will Eas the pain that I feel …

  7. DoDoingDone on November 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

    Interestingly, I am having a boss with ALL of the above 5 ‘personalities’, and they are (yes, two bosses) BOTH the business owners, and they are a couple. :-)))) I have been here for 3 years now and I was laughing painfully when reading your article. Well written! 🙂

    • A.mercury on November 11, 2016 at 5:25 am

      Well I can see your point. Well guess what I’m having same as you but with the flavor of making you not sleeping well.

      I had a good 19 years of wonderful experience and got demotivated simply in one month when the boss has arrived 🙁 and start to kill my dreams ….

  8. Toooldtochange on October 26, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Its a sad fact, but I feel better after reading all of these posts. I am a nurse and currently work in an environment that is fine if you never open your mouth and just do what you are told. If you do question anything, or politely express your dissatisfaction with something…God forbid, look out. And I am not one to not respond to these nasty, disrespectful mini attacks. And that really doesn’t go over well. I thought it was just me and maybe age. But I see it`s not from all previous posts. I don’t want to job hop. Too stressful starting a new position. Need to hear some ideas for just keeping my mouth shut, lol.

    • Ini Chow on December 20, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Try looking into agency work. They pay well and you can keep your regular job until you are ready to leave. Many have insurance and 401k now. I had that situation and had 3 part time jobs. I did not like my boss’ attitude in one and was able to say adios with no problem because the agency and other part time job could have me working 7 days a week if I wanted. I work 2 days and twice a month 3 and make the same money I used to working full time.

  9. Emma on September 9, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Sooooooo what about if your boss is all 5 of these types?

    • Jenna on September 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      I’m not alone!!Lol!!!

      • DoDoingDone on November 1, 2016 at 9:51 am

        Give me 5 too! Yeah!

    • Lee on March 14, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      What if your boss has all 5 traits and people just keep putting up with it for years and he only micro manages people that do not need managing? Is it to make himself looks like he knows what is going on? I see people that need to be managed and whom have even bragged of going to other job interviews on the bosses dime, but he manages and watches the ones under his feet while his “trust worthy, years of service person cuts him down to employees and goes on job interviews and runs personal errands on his dime, orders lunches brings them back and then starts lunch, I am not sure if it is a male favoritism thing or employee favoritism thing, all I know is it is wrong.

  10. Jeffrey on September 1, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    The manager keeps talking negatively with me and degrading the way I present information. My personalty is not rigid and he knows this and try to use it against me to show others how strong is he. I can feel that.

    Recently, he sent email and he altered my name. My last name for example is Jeffrey. In the email he wrote Mr. jeff rey. He makes the first letter small and put a space in the middle. Do you think I can use this email where he allitered my name against him? Is this a red lined crossed?

    I never react against him negativly but instead try to fix the issues and at the same time records in my notes all the insulations with date and time so I can open a case against him with his direct boss or with the personnel.

    Your suggestions are very appreciated.

    • Steve Winkler on September 19, 2016 at 2:36 am

      As far as the email issue, let it go. There’s no way you can prove this was done on purpose. In regards to record keeping, what you’re looking for is something that is a clear cut major violation of HR regs, not something that is more minor in nature. So choose your battles wisely and remember that while you may win one particular battle against this guy, you risk losing the war; i.e. HR may back you up for a major infraction but there are always multiple ways this jackass can retaliate against you. Because retaliation is strictly forbidden by HR, you had better not screw up in your work duties because guess who will be waiting to pounce if you fail. If you’re like me and you’re in sales, it’s REAL easy for these losers to retaliate against you. About 10 years ago I had a manager who was a real tool who seemed to delight in humiliating everyone on our team. Yeah sure, our numbers sucked but he loved kicking people when they were down. He really went after one rep in particular, accusing her of not working, so I told her to document EVERYTHING; i.e. sales calls, business cards collected etc. The next week she told me she did what I advised and presented it to him but he STILL accused her of not working so I told her to call HR. Right after she called them, this clown immediately backed off. He never mentioned HR to her but I’m quite sure they called him to make sure he was conducting himself in a professional way. Ultimately, one by one we were all fired for not hitting our numbers but he did us a favor. Who wants to work for a sick, maladjusted tool who can’t get beyond his own rotten childhood anyway…

    • caltranssux on May 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

      Could be he was writing from his mobile phone? My Dad used to tell me “this is not your first job and it won’t be your last”. And “they are paying you to put up with the a-holes”. I am looking for jobs which cheers me up when I see there are many opportu nities. You will always make a living and get by. Hang in there.

  11. Fahad on June 5, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    What to do if boss is less educated and he is a boss just because of long experience as by luck he got a chance to start up his job with a company and then he never left.

    Now he behaves as he is the best and only one who knows the job.

  12. Chris on May 20, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    So I am a chef on a ship. So we have a rank structure on the vessel. However I can speak from experience that going to HR is not the best route to go. Even though they say it is anonymous it definitely is not. However this being said, I have a captain on our ship that is a complete jerk that falls under all 5 of those categories and more!!! I am a white man and the reason why I am saying this is because I have witnessed this white captain do completely racist things to my black coworkers and it obviously adversely affected me. So I reported this issue along with other problems we were having with him to HR about 1 1/2 years ago. Since I reported the incident he has done nothing but bully and retaliate for being reported to the company by a so called anonymous person which they told him it was me. Since then he has tried every way possible to make our work harder and much more difficult for the last year and a half. How do you deal with a person like this when the company doesn’t care and allows him to continue with this kind of behavior. Complaints to my union also go unanswered and unchecked please help I’m desperate and love my job other than this jerk!

  13. Katie on April 16, 2016 at 12:28 am

    I have only worked at my company for 6 months. When I started, there was one other person doing the same job as I’d be doing (business systems manager). It was the first time this person had ever had a co-worker at his same level. He was nice at first, provided me some knowledge transfer on the customization of this large CRM. I’ve done this type of job over the last 6 years, and i know I’m very good. We do software develop enhancements for a cloud based CRM, for internal customers.

    After a couple months, I noticed he was communicating with my customers without me, updating my notes, and doing some of the work, despite I was already working on these projects. I finally asked why he was doing it and he said he was just helping me. I didn’t need help. I needed him to provide more knowledge of what he had done and what he was doing, so I would better understand how people were using the system, etc. but he wouldn’t. He continuously withheld information from me, and it was a nightmare. Last month, he gave his notice. My boss knew he was being difficult to me. She said she wasn’t concerned. He was extremely controlling over this system and I didn’t agree with many of the unnecessary things he was doing and insisted I do. But I would bite my tongue. Anyway, he gave his notice a month ago and now he’s gone. Here’s where my real problem comes in. He left several projects unfinished and with no documentation. My boss instead preferred that he update a sharepoint site with what she thought would be valuable information in his last two weeks, but none of it helps me. It wasn’t what I wanted, but that was of no matter. So now I am juggling many large projects, including ones I had, far more than I’d ever handled at previous companies, or that any one person should be handling. I also cover service issues as well, and there have been so many because this guy upgraded a large enhancement right before he left, and I’m encountering odd issues. He naturally told me nothing about anything he did. I have never left a company with outstanding projects like that. I would never do that, but he did. I know he had many fans at this company, and I even think he was speaking ill of me. I also used to smell alcohol on his breath often.

    Needless to say, it’s been incredibly stressful but lately, my boss has been rude to me, demanding that I tell her when everything will be done. Our development consultant recently told me they could not do a project a business unit wanted, so in a meeting, I told the requester that I may be able to help another way. I don’t like telling anyone something can’t be done. So my boss said, when will that be done? I said, I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s possible. She insisted that I give the requester a date right then, and I said, honestly, I’m doing all I can to keep everything above water. It’s hard to know right now. She wasn’t happy. Maybe I shouldnt have said that, and just threw out a date, but I don’t lie. Other people wouldn’t have bothered to keep trying to find a solution like that, but I do. I don’t know. I was further humiliated today when she said in front of this customer right after that that I wasn’t being unfair to her by not giving her a date. I feel that my boss was being unfair by putting me on the spot like that. I have been working my ass off for this customer on several projects, and she’s very nice, never complains, she’s also new and other tech folks have said this department is incredibly disorganized, but she only compliments me. I am appalled over my boss saying something like that. She constantly cuts me off, doesn’t trust my solutions or suggestions, even though I know what I’m talking about.

    Overall, I walked in to a very long list of projects needing to be done, many that have been sitting waiting for 2, even 3 years. That is unheard of. Projects shouldn’t sit for more than a few months. So now I’m all alone, and suddenly, she’s cracking the whip. I am so frustrated I’m thinking of leaving. But her rudeness and lack of support for me, is the reason. I don’t know what to do. Sorry this is so damn long.

    • Sandro on May 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      I too have been in this position as have the hundreds of others of posts I have read, studied and internalized.

      My view is less than popular but it is the most satisfying and really, the only one that works. I advocate violence. Ahh before people jump up in arms, I cite that verbal abuse, derogatory remarks and generally being an ungovernable jerk IS violence (of a non-physical) type..after all it’s what these assholes do to you; and you let them.

      What I have read is that there is no end in sight for good employees and it is getting worse. Documenting: useless at best; I have documented 3 years of bullying and harassment and in the end, they just let me go anyway, not wanting to deal with it. You spend more of your work and home time documenting CYA notes than the actual job itself, which suffers and you get nailed for poor performance ANYWAY!….They also found an arbitrator that was clearly on their side from the beginning (bought and paid for by the government). Unions: horrible entities that are purveyors of this bullying themselves. Remember, they will fight for you so long as they have nothing to lose; but since most union reps are IN the workplace with you, they dont want to lose their jobs either. Witnesses: Useless. The least reliable of all types of evidence…UNLESS THEY ARE WILLING TO TESTIFY. Funny how I had about 50 ‘witnesses’ that ALL knew what was going, that felt it was ‘horrible what was happening to me’, that said ‘something should be done”..well when it came time to step up, not a single one testified; so therefore, it’s just a ‘personality conflict’.

      I took the matter into the hands of the only one I could trust ….me. (Not even my hooker ex wife gave any support; she was a coward and thought I should “just be happy to have a job”..which I was about to lose ANYWAY because of the DE-Structive Dismissal)

      I was at wit’s end: All the rules I was taught about playing nice, being the “better person’, treat others fairly and you’ll be treated fairly back, work hard and you’ll be rewarded all came crashing down along with my reputation, my career, my home (I was forced to relocate) and my marriage…all in the span of a week.

      So I became a prick. I mouthed off to my boss at every opportunity, citing how stupid he really was, often in front of his colleagues and mine and reveled in the uncomfortable air resulting. When he would approach with a write up, telling me to sign it, I would: “Fuck You, I’m Not Signing This”. Once, when his boss came into town, wasting company money to ‘address the situation’ even though he was on his side, I was asked what could be done to resolve the situation. I said get rid of this Boot-Licking middle Management Yes-Man and make me the boss. I’ll soar profits and repair any damage he’s done with our partnering stakeholders.” Silence. I turned around and walked away.

      I even told him to get away from me physically; He would enter in my office, trying out some management ploy his management scumbag buddies would tell him to do (because he couldn’t formulate a thought on his own) and try to intimidate me by getting into my space, leaning over my desk, etc. I would immediately call him on the ploy and tell him to get out of my face or I’d punch his ugly face. He said, “Are you threatening me?” Reply: “wow! The ONE conversational dynamic you are able to correctly interpret!” And I was serious too; I never did (sadly)because instinct and common sense won out and he would leave, because the look in my eyes told him everything he needed to know. And it felt good to recapture some control of this situation that had spiraled from under me.

      I ended up having to be moved to a new division in another city and ended up retiring early anyway as the whole place was poisoned. It’s been many years and I still mentally see some of the times where I was bullied and pestered so badly, I would break down in the shower, the things that were said…I don’t talk about it other than in anonymous forums like these and it helps to vent.

      The work world is stupid, flawed and in needs to be destroyed before it can work properly again. I feel for those who don’t have the power or capability to retaliate.

      Remember, wearing a pink shirt doesn’t stop the bully, it just centers you out among the other dark shirts as the target.

      Violence against bullies, it works.

      • Shakeel on December 19, 2016 at 2:47 pm

        I applaud your Strength and mentality – except when my manager got on my **** i literally punched him! take **** from no one!

        [Edited for language]

  14. Iris on March 24, 2016 at 12:40 am

    I came in looking for an answer to my situation and you have given the strength to face my boss the right way.
    I have worked for a boss for 20 yrs, who has been very good to me in times of need, but has no sense of how to treat and appreciate a good employee. Never sits down to discuss an issue with the employees but quick to humiliate
    in front of other. I have talked to him about but he has never taken the road of conversation or meetings with employees. When ever an error is made he jumps quickly to insult the person. I had it, walking out but I will follow your consuelin, I’m writing him a letter without insults but I will direct on how I feel. I will not meet with him
    as I have done it many times.

  15. Rose on March 9, 2016 at 2:58 am

    I’m so overwhelmed, I cry at work, my boss says things in front of others and hates me. Of course I am a good nurse, yet she keeps nagging at me. I have gone over her head won’t make that mistake again. I feel like a failure, I just feel pressured, and angry. Is tjis abuse? I am tired of crying

    • Dr Amanda Welch on March 9, 2016 at 11:35 am

      Rose, Do you have an HR department? It sounds like it might be time to get them involved. Also, make sure that you document everything. I hope the situation gets better for you soon!

      • Dr Jennifer Redig on March 12, 2016 at 11:46 pm

        I think there is a lot of good advice here. Document everything. Also ask around for who your Ombudsman/Ombudswomen/Ombudsperson they should be able to help you. Also not sure where you are. Also are you part of a union? (California Postdocs are unionized). If so, you should contact them for help.

      • Juan on April 6, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        I would think twice on going to HR. I had a put-down and a very rude manager last year, and I knew that my days there were numbered. I approached the HR director as I was really worried about my future in that company because the work relationship with my boss was “cold” (I tried to use terms not pinpointing at him). I asked her not to speak with him because I feared any reprisals. Well, she did exactly the opposite and contacted him. When I came back from a 5 weeks paternity leave I was laid off. I didn’t want to fight back in court as I got a decent severance package (for the 14 months I worked there), but I still believe I was harassed at work by him (my supervisor). They hurt my self-esteem to much and took time to recover. Please document everything so in case they kick you out the company you’re able to fight back. Good luck.

      • Bradley Smith on June 1, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        No disrespect, but advising someone to seek help from HR is poor advice. HR typically supports management, and the employee often suffers worse. To think that HR looks at these issues through objective eyes is nonsense. No, the best course of action is to immediately contact an attorney and have the attorney contact upper management. Be sure the attorney includes in the conversation buzzwords such a racial and gender discrimination.. Once upper management senses that they may be on the hook, they’ll deal with the supervisor quickly. Thanks..

    • Julie on April 29, 2016 at 4:49 am

      Rose I am so sorry to hear that this happened to you I can certainly empathize because I am currently going through the same thing except my boss is an immature passive aggressive and down right cruel 20 year old whose step mom and dad are above him and I have no where to go and this is why I am trying to find another job as fast as I can to get out of there before I have a nervous breakdown. I have a child to support and literally cant afford to quit or I would. I am praying every night for a new job to quickly come along. I hope that things get better for all of us out there who go through this. Nepotism sucks!!

    • Sandro on May 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      I feel for you. I have been there. Just don’t let the work define you, it’s a just a job, there are millions of other jobs in better places that deserve you.

      Don’t trust HR. They are supposed to be “impartial” but are actually an arm of management; logically since their salaries are paid by the company so they won’t ever go against their employers.

      Don’t use the company Employee Assistance Programs either; since these are bought BY the company, I don’t believe for one second what you say is confidential. It has happened to me where I placed certain words only my manager would understand into the conversation with the ‘counselor’ (who was a full bore lunatic: she started to ask ME about advice about her drug-sampling daughter…yea…for real) and not 2 days later those words found their way back to me in a conversation.

      get independent help if you need it but DO NOT say your taking stress leave as this will harm you more than yelling at the boss and telling them to f-off.

      You’ll need to decide one day, to not take any more shit. Things will then change, until them you are trying to to use a system that is geared FOR the bosses and it will always work against you.

      Keep strong!

  16. Davelllogan on January 31, 2016 at 7:12 am

    How do you deal with a Manger whom I’d upset daily.

  17. Azzie on December 14, 2015 at 9:48 am

    my supervisor is a tribalistic, arrogant and obnoxious bully and it is pointless reporting him to the director because he is scared of him, so i have no choice but to endure this miserable old man and being from a different province and different ethnic group makes it even worse because he has a problem with people who don’t belong to his ethnic group. i feel hopeless and i’m only an intern, even when he has to assess me he always writes negative untrue things about me, portraying me to be this mentally slow person, i hate that old man. my first working experience has turned out to be a nightmare.

  18. Ming on October 18, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Thank you for your article. It was really inspiring! I really liked the last part where one should try find solutions to work together rather than exclude. It is really important and at times when things feels negative, this article was a great reminder. Thanks! 🙂

  19. Ashley on October 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

    What to do if your being bullied in a job position that I don’t feel comfortable in

    • Amanda Welch on November 12, 2015 at 11:38 am

      Since I don’t know what sort of position this is or where you’re located, I can only give you general advice. If you have an HR department, contact them. Also, start documenting everything now. After an interaction with your boss that includes bullying, type up the interaction and send it in an email to yourself (just make sure that you copy a personal email address along with a work one). After every conversation with your boss where you get directions about what to do, send him an email (and BCC your personal email address) that summarizes the conversation (as in: “I brought problem X to you. You told me to do Y. I will complete Y by Z date. Thanks for your help!”)

      A bullying boss is awful. I hope that your situation gets better soon!

  20. Ashley on October 16, 2015 at 12:59 am

    What to do if your being bullied into a position at work that you do not feel comfortable in

    • Walker, L on November 9, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      I believe that respect in a workplace works both ways, sure there is a business to be run. However, your boss cannot do it on his own- he needs his employees and as such should treat them the way he would like to be treated. I’m not too sure what field of work you are in but from my experiences talking to your boss about your stresses’ is a short term solution and if you believe that things won’t get better: Leave. The best way to do it is gracefully, but if you feel the need to make your dissatisfaction any clearer, make your exit effective immediately. The latter comes with its consequences though.

      I hope this helped.

  21. renuka.thampi on July 28, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Hi, Suzanne

    Thanks for this information. I am working with a new boss who i guess is working from donkeys years.I mean all what he want is respect like anything which he dont even desrve, iam his secretary i have many things to do, whenever i go to his room he will start his talk like never ending and all this i have to stand like a dummy and write also. he will never ask anyone to sit. i dont no what shit is this and if i sit when i am writing he will make faces which is clearly visible. i thought i will take advise from my husband and collegue they also say to sit who look all this now days, bla bla but i said that doesnt work with him coz whoever is working with him is treating him like a king. and irks thing is that there is no proper structure this orgnasition or post a HR i like a servant who bows his head in front of him, and if ii ask him any HR related thing he would be say i dont no only GM knows, same with finance dept,same with BDM. i mean in the mintues of the meeting i raised this issue in front of the CEO , he told that yes this is not correct. if everyone have to ask GM then no one needs different profiles. but no change. i cant take this stupid attitude what shall i do.. shall i stand or sit .. i no this should be a problem but i dont want to keep everything in heart and work for stupid people.

  22. Suzanne on April 4, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Thanks Dinesh,
    I really liked your article! Especially the first one “All-forget-no-regret” boss.
    Thanks for commenting.
    Suzanne

  23. Dinesh Rudra on April 2, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hi there Suzanne,

    Good post! I especially agree with you on this:

    “The answer to any uncomfortable situation with a boss or co-worker is always to be positive and to be constructive. Focus on the problem and not the person. Focus on how to work together and not how to get the other person to change- because they won’t. I can’t stress enough how important it is to leave any job with relationships intact.”

    Very well put. I should have read this before I wrote my own post (last night) on managing bosses who can’t stick to the decisions they make.
    http://drudra.com/?p=253

    Anyway.. good stuff. Hope to read more soon!
    Dinesh, Malaysia

  24. Suzanne on March 24, 2009 at 3:56 am

    Thanks for your insightful comments. You are right about multiple combinations of these traits being more problematic and unfortunately, that is common.

    I agree with your last comments although, in a large company, maybe a little less so, since there are so many managers and directors that you can have a problematic boss among a group of great ones. In very large companies getting rid of “bad apples” can be difficult simply because of HR rules and not because leadership doesn’t want to remove them. It is a lot harder to fire people in big companies. Conversely, it is a lot easier to move around to different departments too. If you are fortunate, you have upper management that recognizes a problem exists with certain personalities and will help you out when they can. I know this may not always be the case.

    In academics, it is worse because, outside of breaking the law, can a tenured professor ever lose their job? I don’t think there are any checks or balances for abusive personalities in academia (at least not when I was in grad school).

  25. Paul N. Hengen on March 23, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    On the positive side of things, I think people can be more in control of their work environment from the start. I am suggesting these books as a way to make people aware of a potential slippery slope before they fall down into a pit of snakes. There’s not much you can do once you’re stuck in a hole and staring at a tangle of vipers with fangs. Maybe the title of your article could well be: “6 Types of Bad Boss and How to AVOID Them”. And, bosses with multiple combinations of these traits are double-trouble. Also, what’s true for one boss is likely to be true for the entire company. From reading these books, I found out that much of what goes on is usually top-down. The company policies and the way they do not or cannot rid themselves of the bad apples is what causes many problems in the first place. Usually, the nicer people are the ones to leave first. Look before you leap!

  26. Suzanne on March 22, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Thanks Paul.
    Both of those books look like they could really help someone in a bad situation. Quitting a job isn’t a good option with today’s economy and so many people out of work. But possibly you can transfer internally to a new department or lab as long as you do not speak badly about your boss. When you transfer in the same institution, there will be questions as to why you want to leave and the new boss will get both sides of the story. So always be positive.

  27. Paul N. Hengen on March 21, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    May I suggest two books?

    1. Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace
    http://www.amazon.com/Mobbing-Emotional-Abuse-American-Workplace/dp/0967180309/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237661051&sr=8-1

    2. The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
    http://www.amazon.com/Asshole-Rule-Civilized-Workplace-Surviving/dp/0446526568/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1237661161&sr=1-1

    The bottom line is: If it gets this bad, quit your job and find some “normal” people to work with…

    • Andrea on April 25, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      I work for a startup company and we have no HR department. We have 3 mcon who are the owners of a company with 30 -40 employees. My issue is with 1 of 3 owners. He is very militant and sexist for sure. I would here 2 different (female) employees say this but I had never had an issue & outside of work these 2 are a little dramatic. We have an open door policy so I decided to use this when it came to a policy change, just to give him the reasons it negatively affected my department. This conversation ended in tears on my part add he became extremely condensing and speaking to me in the 3rd person as if I couldn’t be lower the him. The icing on the cake is this particular conversation was to hush me he stated he’d “talk to the other owners”. Cut to 2 weeks later, I asked another owner about a request a clIent made, not 2 hours later militant owner is in my office almost to a yelling point talking me to about learn my place or find another job. Taken aback, I asked for clarity regarding what I did wrong & apparently when he came in the office I was suppose to just say “yes sir” instead of yelling him I had already received permission from the other owner. Currently still fuming (this was today mind u) and debating what to do.

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