How can I stop bosses from being really demanding and rude?
Discouraged in Denver
There are two general types of demanding, rude managers that you’re likely to come across and they need to be dealt with differently.
The first is a true “bully”. A true bully has emotional or mental health problems which robs them of their empathy and compels them to emotionally assault subordinates. These predators use premeditated tactics intended to control, subjugate or eliminate their “target”. They enjoy watching their target’s distress, that their abuse of power causes. True bullies think in ways that are inconceivable to most people, but they are skilled at mimicking normal emotions which makes them seem quite normal. These bullies use subtle tactics or abuse behind closed doors. They choose one target at a time. These factors make it hard for others to believe that the target’s reported abuse is real. This helps the bully turn coworkers against the target. By using lies, twisted or half truths, together with feigned concern for the emotional distress the target begins to display, the bully manipulates coworkers into participating in the abuse. This is called “mobbing”. Once chosen as a target, there is an 80% chance that the target will be forced out of their position within two years. These bullies then choose another target within two weeks after elimination of a current target.
The second type of demanding, rude manager is simply arrogant, believing the importance of their position entitles them to treat subordinates as hand-maidens. Their rudeness is not premeditated and is often intensified by their stress level. They do not intend to hurt others and often don’t realize that they are.
Arrogant bosses often respond to honesty and flattery. Tell your boss you would like to meet with them to discuss a “problem”. Start the meeting by acknowledging the importance of the boss’s role in the company and state your commitment to supporting them in their role. Give examples of positives things you do that supports them. Then tell the boss that sometimes you are spoken to or treated in a ways that you don’t deserve. Describe what you mean and how certain behaviors make you feel. For example, “When you yell at me it makes me nervous and less able to understand your directions”. Give examples of positive behaviors that help you help them. For example, “When you demonstrate the way you want me to do it, I can do it the way you want, correctly, the first time”. After the meeting, make positive comments whenever the boss behaves in the positive ways you suggested. For example, “Thank you for taking the time to show me how to do this, I know I’ll do it correctly now”. If the boss lapses back to old behaviors, give reminders. For example, “Remember, it makes me nervous when you yell, lets continue when you can speak to me calmly”.
The first type, the true “bully”, is obviously more difficult to deal with. These people are dangerous to a “target’s” emotional and physical health. It’s best, whenever there is a way possible, to just leave a job in which you have become a target of a true bully. There are many reasons why people can’t leave their jobs, if that is the case, as it is for me, there are ways to minimize the bullying.
First, reduce your exposure and interaction with the bully as much as possible. Do not get into an elevator with a bully, take the stairs. Do not enter the restroom, if you see the bully enter first. Do not sit near the bully during a meeting or at lunch. Do not try to reason with the bully or engage the bully in a discussion to try to find out the reasons for the abuse. Remember, this type of bully thinks in ways that are inconceivable to you. You cannot reason with this type of bully and there is no valid reason that they are treating you this way, other than their whim or amusement. If a bully goes into a tirade, simply state that you will talk with them when they can talk to you calmly. Then hangup the phone or walk away. When you can’t avoid the bully, be polite but brief, such as saying “good morning” and interact as minimally as possible in the course of your job.
DO NOT REACT to anything this bully says or does. This type of bully is motivated and is entertained by your distressed reaction. If you don’t react, they may choose a more entertaining target. No matter how distraught you may feel, NEVER show these emotions on the job. Cry at home. At work be a pillar of emotionalstrength and stability. Bullies will use any sign of weakness against you.
Build strong relationship with coworkers. Be supportive and go the extra mile to help coworkers whenever possible. Give no one a reason to complain about you. Then, tell select coworkers when you are treated badly by the bully, but do so carefully and calmly, not excessively or distressfully. Don’t seem angry or distraught, instead seem perplexed and concerned for the bully. Make coworkers your allies by showing them the nasty e.mails or telling them the exact words the bully used, then ask their opinion. Also, be sure to show them articles about work place bullying and mobbing.
If the bully states that someone else made a complaint against you, go to that person and apologize. Every time I took this approach, the person I apologized to, denied ever making the complaint against me. Respond in a perplexed way and if your bully e.mailed or otherwise documented the complaint, show them the documentation. This person not knowing the true nature of the bully, like you the target does, will want to straighten things out with the bully boss. The bully boss will be taken by surprise and will seem really foolish trying to explain why they made a complaint, on behalf of someone who never make a complaint.
Know this – bullies often choose a target because they are threatened by the target’s good performance and/or popularity which increases the bully’s feeling of shame or makes their feelings of incompetence seem more evident by comparison. Don’t point out your successes to your bully boss thinking this will gain your boss’s approval. Instead, keep successes to yourself and congratulate yourself, knowing that each compliment and/or positive outcome for your company validates your true value to the company as opposed to your bully’s lies. Know that positive observations by others in the company may win you a transfer to a better position and will make your bully boss seem foolish to others when he makes invalid negative comments about you.
The bully’s biggest weakness is fear that their true nature will be exposed to others. If you can muster the emotional strength, subtly and with confidence and courage, let the bully know that you have a knowledge of the phenomenon of “work place bully and mobbing” and that you perceive the bully’s behavior as that which the literature on the Internet describes as that of a “work place bully”. Like most people, the bully probably never heard of the phenomenon. When the bully sees themselves accurately described on the Internet, and learns that there is a growing momentum to spread the word about it, the bully will be filled with fear of exposure and hopefully will steer clear away from you and any mention of “work place bullying”.
Most of all, live well and be happy. No one will believe the bully’s lies if your performance, demeanor, productivity and emotional stability prove otherwise.
I know this was a long answer to a seemingly simple question, but work place bullying is really a very complex thing. Hope this helps some folks out there. ABC
Date: 4/3/2008 8:18:00 PM
Thank you so much for your insightful article. Having just worked for the President of a company who was a bully, your words about “true” bullies, resonated and truly made me know that I am not alone.
Date: 4/30/2008 2:22:00 AM
I have to say, it took me a while, maybe ten years of working, to figure out what I really wanted: a) to work part-time not full-time, even if it means less income bc it’s all I can do with my stress levels, and b) find good people to work with. Not perfect people, but people whose idiosyncracies I can stand. Last year, I was busy complaining on these boards about the hell I was in with my boss. I saved up enough money, then quit. It was scary quitting without another job ahead of me. I had to contract for awhile with no steady income but a little here and a little there. Then with my good luck and help from God, one of those contract people needed a permanent employee – that was me! I was hired about seven months after I quit. It was a hard period to get through, but within a year, it’s been a nice change. I can look back at where I was before and I just hated it. I hated the person I worked for. Now, my good boss seems even better knowing where I’ve been. It takes courage to walk away but I believe if you put yourself financially in a position to do it, it’s the best thing to leave.
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