bullying by boss

Is your boss biased against you? And what if it is more serious? Bullying by boss is more common than you might think.

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Last Updated on April 15, 2019 by Lucie Klabanová

(For czech version of the post click here.)

Every day most of us get up in the morning and go to the office. We stay there usually eight (or more) hours – so bit part of our day. Actually more than we actively spend with our families.

We all are just humans, there are relationships among people. Each of us is different, therefore also the relationships differ. If we want it or not the relationship with our superior has a big impact on us. As said, we spend at work a lot of time and the boss and colleagues are part of it.

If your boss is a great one, he does realize this responsibility. And so he can initiate its correct creation and development.

But what if your boss does not think of relations? What if he has no interest in people and he does not want to engage in that at all?

And even worse – what if he actually destroys your relationship?

In the research I did for my e-book 5-star-boss (sorry, available only in Czech) it came out quite clearly that more than half of the people were demotivated by the wrong relatitons at workplace, mainly with the boss.

Bossing is a form of misuse by superior at workplace.
Bullying is performed also by women managers.

Bosses are like parents

Bosses are like parents – there is no 100% perfect manual, as well there is none for parentship. Everybody needs to fight it on their own. Just tries. And of course makes mistakes.

There comes the question if he identifies his mistakes, names them and learns from them. Or repeats them.

And now have a look from your point of view. You work under him, so there is a certain hierarchy given and you know, he is your boss.

But what if:

  • he is unfair to you
  • he repeatedly gives you work to do, that is not in your competence or job description
  • overloads you, asks you to do more work that is possible to do
  • bagbites you, speaks bad about you in front of others (and you)
  • behaves superior, vilifies you
  • Downplays your opinions
  • checks you too much, plays the “policeman” all the time
  • never says about what you have done: “good job”. But when you make a mistake he tells you immediately
  • he is vulgar, disconnects his anger with you.

Maybe you are surprised but all those are signs of abuse of authority, or bullying at workplace. The misuse at work does not mean only the sexual harrassment. (I do not mention it here on purpose, because I really hope you have never experienced it, but if so, please contact the police or other institution immediately).

My feeling is that most of the bosses do not realize that:

  • they do this
  • it is abuse

But what you can do about it?

Especially in our world, when we are often discouraged to say our opinion, we are afraid of any stepping out of the crowd?

I keep repeating it on and on: the communication is the basis.

Misuse of authority at workplace
Women are more often than man the victims of bullying from bosses.

Do not let yourself be misused by the boss.

If your boss is doing any of the above, what certainly hearts you, you need to solve it. The results of such bullying at workplace can be very serious, the timely defense against mistreatement from your boss is needed.

A good boss should initiate such talks. He should be willing to get an open feedback on himself. But if he doesn’t, there is no other chance than you take over.

Simply tell him. But be careful, as usual, it is important to prepare yourself very well. HOW you will share this can have a fundamental impact on the fact if all will be accepted or not.

So how to approach such discussion with your boss?

  • Fight your fear and decide to speak openly. This is always the biggest challenge that requires work on yourself. It can be of help to evaluate the possibilities: Either you try to solve it openly and change it or you let yourself destroy a bit longer and in the end you will have to run away. If you try to work things out at the beginning you have the will to change things. Later on, you might lose this motivation.

  • Plan a meeting in advance. Choose right time – to give you enough concentration. Do not postpone this discussion, if you are at the stage when you need to solve.

  • Write down points in advance. All that worry you and hurt you. Do not be afraid how they affect your emotions – we are humans. Maybe the counterpart will claim he does not mean it that way, but that is not important. If you explain what and why is impacting you, you have the right to ask him, not to behave that way.

  • Be careful about the tone of voice. Speak calmly and factually. Therefore it is important to prepare notes before. Discussion will be emotional (at least inside) and there is risk you would not transmit full message. It would of course impact the solution.

  • Be open to accept that part of the problem is on your side. It might be your higher sensitivity to some things or maybe you really do something wrong, not well enough. It can be brought up. Do not prevent that. Rather accept it as a feedback to you.

  • Close the discussion with suggestion of steps of solution. Try to set how in each of the areas your cooperation will continue. If you blame your boss for not praising you, ask him to do it sometimes, or if he is blaming you for mistakes, ask him to tell you next time with full feedback in privacy. Or if he gossips about you, ask him to tell you openly face to face (show him my post about openness ;-))

Did you manage? CONGRATS! You did a huge step to work on radical candor (see book of Kim Scott Radical Candor) in your company.

That is not all, though. Now you need to evaluate two things:

  • reactions of your boss during the meeting
  • behaviour of your superior after some time.

If already during the meeting your boss’s reactions are excessive, he is not willing to listen to you, is vulgar or bad and so on, I am sorry to say, but you cannot achieve anything with him. Just reconsider if / how long you want to stand the bullying, if it is worth it. You can change your job anytime. Consider that after this meeting he might even become worse.

If he does not try to change his behaviour, run away.

If his reaction is calm, he shows interest in your perception of his behaviour, he agrees to change some approaches, you are on the right track. You just need to observe how it will develop later. We are all humans so even your boss will not become another person tomorrow than he was until now. But if he is more careful in some situations you discussed, he tries to behave better, congratulations again! Not only you improved your own situation at work, but most likely you also helped some other current or future colleagues not to be faced with the same problem. And your manager to be a better boss.

But if after all promises nothing is changing, you are just where you were before. Well, not really, now you know that the behaviour of your boss is not unwanted but intentional. So same as above, consider if it is worth it for you. If it destroys you so much, that it has impact on your health, private life. If so – run away.

There are many recommendations how to try to solve bossing officially – internally in corporate companies or public offices. If you wish to do so, just google it. But think over well if you are really willing to do so. The mental difficulties are huge during misuse, even higher one that you would have to face when proving bullying from your boss can just be too much. But certainly I do not want to discourage you! If you feel like, go for it and annouce bullying at workplace.

Same as any other sort of misuse also bullying by boss has an impact on mental and physical health, self-perception. Do not allow it to go to far. No job in the world is worth creating you such problems.

I am a mentor, leader and pioneer of business process improvement. I help companies and individuals to find effective ways to achieve their goals. More about me you can find here>>