3 Warning Signs That Your Boss Is Abusive
In life, one thing is guaranteed. You will never have the perfect boss.
Even if your boss has many admirable qualities, and you think the world of them, they're never going to be 100% flawless.
Just as when you pick a mate, you have to decide what you will not put up with at work. Indeed, you spend almost as much time with your boss as with your mate.
If your boss has any of the characteristics listed below, there's a good chance your boss is abusive. If this is the case you need to get away as soon as you can. You'll probably end up leaving anyway, but the longer you stay, the more damage it will do to your soul and health.
Three Warning Signs of an Abusive Boss
I'm not talking about annoying personality traits, such as being indecisive, unfocused or arrogant.
Although these traits are unpleasant, you can deal with them. It's abusive characteristics that make you feel stressed and worthless. Abusive bosses are the bosses to watch out for.
This isn't a complete list, but the following types of behavior are three main indicators that your boss is abusive.
1. Demeaning Behavior
It's uncalled-for in any way, shape, or form to excuse the belittling or humiliating of another human being.
Your boss has no right to yell at you in front of others, or behind closed doors. Yelling should never be tolerated.
Talking to you disrespectfully and verbally trying to undermine your confidence should also be strictly prohibited. Whether your boss is in a bad mood or not doesn't matter, and it doesn't matter what they think you might have done: there is no excuse.
Those who take pleasure out of making others feel degraded, do so to achieve a sense of empowerment or superiority. This often stems from deep-rooted insecurities.
Once this behavior starts, it only gets worse.
And be alert for your boss demeaning other people who aren't present. It's a bad sign if they're constantly badmouthing your co-workers or prior employees when they talk to you, saying old employees were constantly making stupid mistakes, spent too much personal time at work, or were dishonest.
Of course the boss's complaints could have some element of truth; not all employees are focused and honest. However, if your boss claims they had all these bad work habits and no good qualities, it's likely you have a boss who brings out the worst in their employees or only looks for the negative. Either way it's not a good workplace situation.
2. Isolating Behavior
Setting policies and procedures in place, and making sure they're followed through is one thing. Trying to control you personally in the workplace and cut you off from your support is quite another.
Isolation is the most dangerous controlling tactic an abusive boss can use because it cuts you off from any support. A feeling of isolation is the most painful experience a person can go through.
Some controlling-and-isolating behaviors to watch out for are:
- Wanting to know what you do every second of the day
- Monitoring who you speak to
- Showing displeasure when you speak to others or certain people at work.
It's especially alarming when they don't want you to talk to family or friends when you're at work, even at lunch time or when you're on a break.
Isolation is the sum total of wretchedness to a man.— Thomas Carlyle
3. Untrusting Behavior
If your boss always acts as though you can't be trusted, this is often a sign they're the untrustworthy one.
They may have some reason to withhold their trust: perhaps they were burned by a previous employee who was untrustworthy, or they have a manager or supervisor above them who doesn't trust them, and they pass this attitude on to you.
But if they constantly act like you are deceitful, it may be that they are deceitful themselves.
It is impossible to go to work every day and feel safe when you always have to watch your back.
Micromanagement Shows Lack of Trust
An untrusting boss seems to lack confidence in everything you do. They demand to know every move you make while you're at work.
- What decisions you make
- Every email you send
- Every memo you send out
- When and why you left your desk
Micromanagement is not the same as your boss objecting to you spending company time on personal matters, playing Facebook scrabble or texting your friends. Your boss has the right to request you refrain from these activities while you're working.
An untrusting boss, on the other hand, acts as if you don't have what it takes to do your job and you never will. If you believe what he is putting out, you will never thrive.
A good boss makes his men realize they have more ability than they think they have so that they consistently do better work than they thought they could.— Charles Erwin Wilson
Don't Forget Female-to-Female Abuse
Abuse crosses genders and can be exhibited by and directed at both males and females. Male bosses may abuse both male and female employees. And female bosses can be just as abusive as men.
But a specific situation, involving an abusive female boss and a female subordinate, called the Queen Bee Syndrome can be especially painful and confusing for employees caught up in it.
What Is the Queen Bee Syndrome?
The "Queen Bee Syndrome" describes a woman in a position of authority who views or treats subordinates more critically if they are female.
According to psychologist Professor Cary Cooper, of the Lancaster University Management School, a Queen Bee is a woman who has worked her way to to the top in a male-dominated environment and probably got there by acting like a man, by appearing tough rather than soft and caring.
She is characterized as being successful in her career, but she refuses to help other women succeed. She is overly critical to her female subordinates and tries to sabotage them professionally.
A perfect example of this type of abuser is Meryl Streep's character, Miranda Priestly, in The Devil Wears Prada.
Look for Signs
As with abusive spouses, the negative behavior probably won't rear its ugly head in the beginning. The traits of your abusive boss will gradually sneak up on you.
You may not even recognize it's happening until it's a full-blown problem.
Hopefully, now you're aware of what signs to watch for so when you see these types of behaviors, you'll leave immediately.
If you're not in a financial situation where you can quit right away, start looking for other employment as soon as you can. Life's too short, and you're too valuable as a person to have to put up with this.