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3 Warning Signs That Your Boss Is Abusive

Koralee is a retired legal assistant/paralegal turned online writer and author who works part-time as a virtual legal assistant.

Life With an Abusive Boss

Life With an Abusive Boss

One thing is guaranteed in life, 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 and family.

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 health and soul.

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.

Abusive Boss, Bullying Co-Worker, Cliques and Hostile Work Environment

The 3 signs of an abusive boss discussed in this article also apply to co-workers and supervisors.

3 Key Behaviors of an Abusive Boss

This isn't an exhaustive list, but the following types of behavior are three main indicators that your boss is abusive.

  1. Demeaning
  2. Isolating
  3. Untrusting

If your boss practices these behaviors, it has nothing to do with you. There is nothing you can do to appease them because you can't change them. Make sure you don't internalize how they make you feel - it literally has nothing to do with you.

If a co-worker displays these behaviors they're intimidated by you; probably because they don't feel valued or have low self-esteem. If a co-worker causes you issues in your workplace you might be dealing with an office snake.

Signs Your Boss is Abusive

What you need to watch for are certain behavioral traits that are signs of an abusive boss.

While abuse is generally considered a behavior that only takes place within domestic relationships, or with children and adolescents; it also rears it's ugly head in the workplace.

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 or in condescending ways 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.

Demeaning Others Around you

Be aware when your boss demeans other people who aren't present. It's a bad sign if they're constantly bad mouthing your co-workers or previous employees when they talk to you.

It's a sign your boss is abusive if they tell you old employees were constantly making stupid mistakes, spent too much personal time at work, or were dishonest.

One specific behavior to warn you that your boss is abusive is if they look for minor issues to complain about.

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.

High Turnover of Staff: If there's a high turnover of staff, this is a sign that there's an abusive boss and/or toxicity in the workplace.

Toxic Workplace Environment: If your boss is abusive, or there's any abuse in the workplace or management it creates a toxic work environment. It's not to.

These lion dens are full of infighting and drama to the point where productivity suffers. Toxic workplaces are motivated by mean-spirited behaviors.

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.

Abusive Boss and Office Bullying

Isolating and ostracizing .behaviors.

Isolating and ostracizing .behaviors.

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.

Controlling and Isolating Behaviors

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. This goes with others in the office and is a sign of bullying co-worker.

Unnecessary Drama: Untrusting people and thieves spend a lot of time and energy pointing fingers at others saying they're dishonest. As a result, they tend to create a lot of drama by telling stories and spending too much time watching what others are doing.

Your boss may have some reason to withhold their trust. Maybe they were burned by a previous employee who was untrustworthy (not able to be relied on as honest or truthful), 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're deceitful, it may be that they are deceitful themselves.

It's impossible to go to work every day and feel safe when you always have to watch your back.

Lack of Confidence in Your Abilities

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
  • How many tasks you've finished

Micromanagement is not the same as your boss objecting to you spending company time on personal matters such as playing Facebook scrabble or texting your friends. Your boss has the right to request you refrain from these activities while you're working.

On the other hand an untrusting boss acts as if you don't have what it takes to do your job. If you believe what he or she is telling you - you'll never thrive in that environment. This is probably part of your abusive bosses plan.

Harvard Study Why Some Bosses Bully

According to studies posted by Harvard Business Review, some bosses bully poor performers as well as high performers - but for different reasons.

"Poor performers are challenging to deal with and often cause frustration and angst for their supervisors."

You would think bosses and supervisors would want their top performers to excel and give them every chance to shine. However this isn't always the case.

"This is because high performers represent a threat to supervisors who place a high value on their dominant position in the hierarchy."

This type of bully boss would see a top performer as someone who might replace them, surpass them, get status or attention from higher-ups.

Neither reason excuses bullying but it does demonstrate a bad leader.

The Motto of a Great Boss

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

Female-to-Female Abuse

Abuse crosses genders and can be exhibited by, and directed to both males and females. Male bosses may abuse 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.

In the Queen Bee Syndrome, a female in a supervisory or management position treats female subordinates more critically.

In the Queen Bee Syndrome, a female in a supervisory or management position treats female subordinates more critically.

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.

Where did the Term "Queen Bee Syndrome" Originate?

The term “queen bee syndrome” came from studies done by University of Michigan researchers in the 1970s.

In their study they looked at female bosses working in male hierarchies who tried to keep their new standing by stopping attempts by other women seeking the same position.

Their work was published in 1974 in Psychology Today magazine.

It's important to note that female bosses are also abusive the males at work, but the 'Queen Bee Syndrome" was defined based on how these women treat other women in the workplace.

A perfect example of this type of abuser is Meryl Streep's character, Miranda Priestly, in The Devil Wears Prada.

Look for these Abusive Boss Signs

Look for signs of an abusive boss.

Look for signs of an abusive boss.

Look for Signs

As with abusive spouses, your abusive boss' 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.

Does This Sound Familiar?

Hopefully, now you're aware of what signs to watch for so when you see these types of abusive behaviors, you don't internalize them. It's not you, it's them. As I said earlier it's hard to change someone else; especially when they probably don't see anything wrong with their behavior.

If you're not in a financial position 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.


Abusive Boss Summary

Abusive bosses and bully coworkers display certain behaviors with the intention to make you feel bad, unskilled or worthless. They do this by:

  • Demeaning you
  • Untrusting of your intentions and actions
  • Isolating and controlling

Demeaning: When they demean you they disrespect you, yell and degrade you.
Untrusting: They act like they don't trust you.. They lack confidence in your abilities and try to make you second guess yourself. They want you to always second guess your abilities or they don't want you to succeed.
Isolating: They keep you away from support, or single you out and exclude you; often they get others to do the same.
Controlling: They try to control how you spend your time in the office including breaks.

You're Not Alone - Woman Suicidal Over Workplace Abuse

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: When I am abused emotionally at workplace, what must I do?

Answer: There are different types of emotional abuse that require different actions. I have another article on here titled "What is Bullying at Work? How to Survive a Hostile Work Environment." I have some suggestions for how to deal with emotional abuse in the workplace.

Question: What if you have to ask an abusive boss for an intercompany transfer? How do you address it?

Answer: I'm sorry I don't know the details of how your company works, or where you live. You should be respectful when making the request and go through the usual channels. It's a good idea to have a well thought out reason for transferring within the company, and try to somehow make it sound like a good move for the company or your boss.

© 2011 Koralee Phillips

What Abusive Bosses Have You Had?

JohnDoh2 on March 01, 2020:

One thing I noticed from people that are crushed by their bosses (usually in an office or education setting) is that they are overly concerned with what their boss (and people generally think of them). Don't get me wrong I have suffered horrendous abuse from a couple of bosses(wa#k#rs) and a colleague who was a narcissist and who had their backing and I ended up on medication because of them. At one point I was thinking of jumping out of the window just as a spontaneous decision that is how crazy they made me. I am a laid back person and for them to get me to this stage over3 years was an achievement of a sort for them. But I never for one moment gave a hoot as to what they thought of me or how I would look if they presented me in a certain way. I got out. I managed to cause maximum financial destruction to their company and could have if I had been more cunning walked away with a six figure sum. As it was I got compensation. Not enough all told but the reason I am on here is that I have a toxic boss but this boss is pathetic in comparison and I laugh off their attempts to ridicule me. I would choose "Bullying" over constructive dismissal anyday of the week. A bully is generally a coward and while we can't all be David to Goliath as the office workplace is complex there is nothing to fear from a supervisor who calls you names or says you aren't working hard enough when you clearly are. I infuriate mine, the more attention they give me the more I smirk in their face. I guess I am the nightmare of a narcissist bully boss as I have reconstructed myself. I still would fear constructive dismissal though because some employers are not afraid to claim an employee committed a criminal act in order to get rid of them and destroy them at the same time so always be careful what you say and especially what you write but never be afraid of a frustrated loser who is trying to put you down in front of your colleagues. Really don't!

JohnDoh on March 01, 2020:

One thing

Jean on January 30, 2020:

When I started my job, my boss had me convinced that she was a very nice person, but I soon came to realize the truth.

She would task me with things that are quite literally impossible to achieve (like fighting with the local government to get her electricity bill reduced). When I wasn't able to achieve this, the abusive behaviour got worse.

She would openly demean me in front of clients and my co-workers. She even went as far as telling my mother untrue mean things about me.

She constantly looks for faults and I'm actually afraid to come to work, because I know there's going to be something.

I am not allowed to use my phone during lunch breaks or tea time unless I am using it to communicate directly with her.

If I communicate with other employees, it has to be on a work group or a recorded call. Never personally. She constantly tells me I am inadequate and she tells other employees this as well.

If I correct her, I get in trouble. If I try to stand up for myself, she restricts me more and finds other ways to make me feel worthless.

She extended my probation period (which was three months) to a year, because I used the wrong wording when answering the phone.

She screams at me and talks to me like I am not worthy of her kindness.

She constantly breaks me down and has taken away lunch breaks because she believes that they are counter productive.

It seems like the many people who have worked in my position before me, have had the same problem. If they resign, they are told that they are lazy and weak. I have witnessed her giving a bad reference for a former employee who left because of the abuse.

Her behaviour makes the other employees depressed and usually one becomes less productive and when that happens, she makes a point out of overloading an employee with work that seems to never be right :

Example: She would tell me to focus on ONLY her electricity bill. If I do any other work, I get in trouble. The next day, I get in trouble for only focussing on her electricity bill and not doing any other work. Because of this, my phone now gets confiscated when I enter the office so that I can work faster.

I am scared to resign because I know she will leave the worst reference for me and spread hanus rumours about me, like she has done with previous employees.

JET76 on December 28, 2019:

Years ago, my wife encountered an abusive boss, who had pretty much intimidated the entire section into fearful obedience. My wife requested transfer, explaining the situation and was denied. The abuse escalated, she filed a complaint and then it was open season on her. At every step, the organization not only failed to do the right thing, it did the wrong thing. It took three years, but the organization's reputation took a big hit and it cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars when all it would have taken was a simple transfer to another boss.

Now, a very close female coworker is in the exact same situation. Her supervisor is abusive, hostile and harassing, demeaning her work and levelling numerous false allegations against her. She brought his behavior to his attention, notified his superiors and requested transfer. This man has a history and pattern of abusing female subordinates and this was brought to the attention of higher management. Other women filed written complaints about this man's behavior. Upper management has steadfastly refused to do anything about it.

At every turn it seems that management wants to bury its head in the sand and hope that the problem goes away. That man seems to have a taste for abusing women and seems to enjoy it and that behavior does not go away on its own.

Deborah Irwin on December 26, 2019:

Thanks for all the private responses i got on this article and it was so good to have this outlet and to see that I wasn't alone in this.

I feel encouraged to move forward with my entire story with the materials I have collected and have submitted it to several news outlets...So thank You

Deborah Irwin on December 23, 2019:

the other employee used to tell the main boss all this stuff just really stir things up just to have them completely loose it with me normally in public...it was really humiliating the neighbors behind us always asked if i was ok.

Deborah Irwin on December 23, 2019:

I am still in shock about how much power these people had over me and I allowed it. I allowed them to break me and they tried hard to do that. They put a lot of effort into demeaning me,into talking down to me,what i wrote earlier about her exaggerating when she talked to me moving her lips extra slow because i'm hearing impaired that was all day long that she did that everyday.There is another employee that did the tours(and is good friends with them) who they allowed to bully me who had the power to change my breaks. They went out with her a few times a day for coffee or beer while I had to stay at the villa...It was Hell. And I felt broken and numb when I left...

Deborah Irwin on December 22, 2019:

This article really hit home!

My last few years have been all about this article...and for the longest time i put the smile on my face and held my head up but inside?I felt numb my shine slowly disappeared...the constant public humiliation,degrading comments,the screaming and being told and treated like i was stupid and worthless. I really loved my line of work and take pride in what I do and it showed with the guests and for a long time that was enough. But the worst part was the other side of the abuse the queen bee.Who lived for putting me down not a moment passed where i wasn't made to feel like i did anything thing right if i had to wash and fold the sheets i would do them and go back upstairs where they were only to have her waiting for me to redo them always in a nasty tone with her exaggerating how she spoke to me because i read lips because of my hearing impairment..that was the worst how she treated me and this is just a few things so i left i just couldn't handle one more day one more day of not really getting breaks one more day of being treated like i was worthless...the isolation..i lived where i worked and the pay? Was slave wages...simple i was done. so now i am jobless but i do have a job lined up for after the holiday and pretty much homeless....but saving my self worth and dignity? that was worth it.

Sophiea on December 08, 2018:

Jack in the box Spokane Valley , has been the worse boss ever I had , didn't even training for front counter like they should be doing yelling at all costs workers at day long in front of comsters when the big bosses come in she's nice as can be

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on November 09, 2018:

Hi finally Quit. That workplace sounds horrible. I'm so glad you got out. I really appreciate that you had the courage to leave and share your story. Thank you.

Finally Quit on November 09, 2018:

I finally got up the courage to quit my job, after taking four years of mental and emotional abuse from my boss. It was getting to the point that I was having anxiety and trouble sleeping and when I did sleep I would have dreams about the abuse I was enduring at work. I spent much of my personal time crying, and ashamed that I was letting a person treat me this way and that I was letting him make me feel the way that I did. He wouldn't even let me quit when I tried, he just said "NO" and walked away. as I was packing up to leave, he came up and started hitting my car and slamming my car doors...I later found out he told my co-workers of the whole ordeal "she's an asshole". needless to say, I made the right choice in quitting.

KDR on September 27, 2018:


My boss is abusive and doesn't allow me to talk. Even for giving updates on my work, he's abusive and keeps telling me that I'm not doing my tasks and makes me assist in his personal work. Everyday he calls me and says that I'm not doing my work and whatever I'm doing is not considered as my tasks. My immediate boss is supposed to delegate tasks since I'm new to me. But she doesn't communicate to me and doesn't update me on anything. I find it so tough to communicate with anyone at work since most of them are working remote and don't respond on time. In turn, I'm getting abused for what I'm not accountable for. I'm unable to take this stress and not really sure how to handle this.

Left job on September 27, 2018:

Hi. I had been seeking a decent job for a while. Finally got one, or so I thought, and after a couple days I realized it was the abusive Queen bee syndrome.

She also had a worker bee who helped with her agenda to micromanage, control and ostracize me every day.

I tried to go in every day with my head up, smile, be kind, and do my job, but it continued. They would talk to each other and not me. They would

roll their eyes, whisper to each other in front of me, wouldn’t offer to help me if they saw I needed help. It makes you feel horrible inside. It breaks your spirit. It’s a heavy brick on your back.

I tried to do nice things for them in hopes it would change their heart toward me: empty their garbage and vacccum their areas. They would notice when they got back from lunch, but would not acknowledge my attempt to keep peace.

They didn’t say thank you. This went on every day and kept worsening. Constant control and watching my every move. And no I wasn’t paranoid.

I would say good morning every day and they wouldnt say it back. If I tried to join in the conversation or say a cute or witty comment, they would just look at each other and they wouldn’t laugh with me - shutting me down basically.

But they would talk to each other and smile at each other all day. So I became more introverted and careful and untrusting.

When it got to be too much, I went to the owner for help.

He did not help me, but rather he held a brief meeting and discussed ‘seniority’

This had nothing to do with seniority!

So what happened was he had talked with the nasty bees and they portrayed me as being someone who didn’t want to follow their rules or instructions, and he bought into it.

I assure you that that was not the case at all. They were lying.

I worked hard every single day. These women were jealous, backbiting, whispering, micromanaging women.

It stressed me out so bad and I knew there was no way out because I had already gone to the owner for help. And rather than help me and stand up and do right, he was most concerned for his bottom line and gave them all authority

( aka seniority) to continue to bully me.

So after only 7 weeks, I quit. After quitting I have heard that they have a very high turnover rate in the dept I worked. No surprise.

The worst thing is after you get the courage to leave, and you have friends in your life who make you feel like you should just ‘ tough out’ situations like this. Or worse, that maybe it’s all in your imagination.

I don’t tough out abuse, lies and manipulation - nobody should.

I’m an educated and intelligent enough woman to know the difference between a kind, respectful person compared to a vindictive and destructive one. Know your truth. Know your worth. God bless.


Catherine on September 14, 2018:

Hi .. I’ve been so upset lately .. I’m a phlebotomist and everyday that I come into work my boss has something abusive to say to me infront of people .. it doesn’t matter how small the issue is it become condescending and embarrassing.. I’m a hard worker and always try to do my best .. I’m so sad and disappointed

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on September 13, 2018:

Hi Deny that's horrible. You're right that laws should be implemented. I just read an article http://www.healthyworkplacebill.org/faq.php about the United States and workplace bullying.

It's shocking that no state has an anti-bullying law for the workplace.

IvyBlues on September 13, 2018:

One of the vice president's where I work made fun of a neurological condition that I suffer from. She and my immediate supervisor--both of who are rather new to this organization--have demoted and isolated me and essentially dragged through the mud my several-years' long excellent reputation at this organization. Workplace bullying should be illegal throughout the US.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on September 08, 2018:

Hi QOBO LARRY Thank you for sharing your story. She sounds stressful. But, it's her problem, don't make it yours. Just keep doing a good job. It takes a lot of character and a good work ethic to put in all those extra hours. She knows even if she doesn't say anything. Your work ethic might intimidate her, or she's just an unhappy person and there's nothing you can do about that because it's up to her. Remember that she can't get to you without your permission :)

QOBO LARRY on September 07, 2018:

My boss is something else. She yells at me in front of guests. She tells me to do so many things in a short space of time. If she finds me doing something on my own that is work related, she starts yelling at me saying that i am sitting wasting time. I work at the Hotel reception. She has the audacity to insult me and say my name is too long like the name Jerusalem. I need this job but its becoming hard for me to cope with her behavior. so demeaning, untrusting, doesnt want to see my colleagues and I talking, she accuses us of gossiping about her, saying she is a bad person. I sometimes get to work at 6am and knock off from work at 10pm in the evening, and she doesnt even mention the over time salary, because i am supposed to knock off at 5pm.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 20, 2018:

Hi Jess Martinez13. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

I wouldn't worry about other positions because you will get more offers. This other position you mentioned might have been bad for you too. The best one for you will come up if you keep looking for it.

You probably think a lot about your supervisor and work situation even when you’re not there. Instead you should Imagine what it will be like when you're working somewhere like your current workplace was before.

Think about where your skills and talents will give others the most value. Where you’ll be in your element and look forward to going to work.

What you do for your family is incredible, they're so lucky to have you for a mom - don't ever forget that. What’s important is your family and making your families' life the best it can be; and you’re doing that.

Your supervisor, her attitude and opinions are NOT important. Think of her as just a pesky fly in your life. You just shoo flies away so try to do the same with her in your mind.

Don’t let her get in your head. Just because she says something doesn’t make it true. She’s not an all-knowing super human. For example, she says you can’t care for your family, your precious special needs child, work, and go to school; but you can, you’ve proved that for years.

You’re Unstoppable!

You have so much going for you - it sounds like your co-workers think a lot of you too, so focus on that.

As far as human resources go if discrimination doesn’t mean anything to them they don’t deserve you working there.

If you’re still at that job keep looking for a position that deserves you and remember what’s truly important. You don’t have to explain yourself so just try to go to work and do your job until you can break free – and you will get away. I have so much faith in you!

Try finding another job that offers free education or check out government funding to go to college. You deserve the life you want and a job that values you. Don't forget that either.

Jess Martinez13 on August 16, 2018:

This article sounds like it is describing my work life lately to the T. I have worked for my company for close to 7 years now and 8 months ago our department had a reorganization and I was given a new supervisor (someone who by the way did not have a clue or care to learn what our department does). In the time that I have worked here I was always treated well and commended on all the hard work and the above and beyond work I did. However, these past 8 months with the new supervisor leaves me feeling sick all the time. I am starting to question my own ability at this point. She plays a lot of mind games. And does a lot of things to make me look incompetent, even when I have emails, etc. that prove her wrong. Even though my previous supervisor and other coworkers try to lift me up, the days are getting tougher and tougher. I went to HR and they told me this was an issue between me and my boss and we needed to work it out. I have since reported incidents 3 more times and nothing. One of the incidents was because she stated that because I am a mother, especially that one of my kids is special needs, I cannot handle being a mom, working and going to school that it was too much and she would not sign the paper so I could take classes this semester. Even though I have been doing it successfully for the past years. But if straight out discrimination doesn't get the attention of HR, then I don't know what will. I have tried to tough it out since this job allows me to go to school for free, but have been looking for a new job. I was offered another position, but unfortunately the salary was considerably lower, but now I regret not taking it. Not sure what else to do at this point.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 08, 2018:

Hi Finn. Thanks for sharing how you deal with abuse at work (I'm sorry you have to deal with it), but you have a great attitude.

Yes, there is a fine line between escalating the abuse and validating it. It's a personal choice that should be well considered before taking action.

Thank you as well for pointing out how the actions of a queen bee boss is applicable against men too. I'm going to add what you said to that section of the article.

Fin from Barstow on July 13, 2018:

A well written article with some deep observations about characteristics to look out for.

Not to disparage your perspective, but I happen to be a man in a female dominated profession and the queen bee syndrome definitely is applicable to female bosses against men. and the rest of the hive always joins in.

However, getting past that, you really have to be cautious how you respond as well to the abuse because you can escalate it if you say or do the wrong thing. However, if you do nothing, you can validate the abusive behavior as well...

I think it's best to keep tunnel vision myself when at work and not get involved as much as possible. Be friendly and polite and respectful and if someone snubs you, ignore it. It's just work.

very informative article, nice layout. I like the bullet points and you are brief but still provide enough details to get the point across.

Pepper on May 02, 2018:

I was legitamitly of sick do a few months with notes from 2 physicians...when I returned to work a couple days later... I got a written worning for talking to someone in the hall!!! My manager only did that because I was off!!!

Emma on May 02, 2018:

Wow. I cannot relate to this more. I've had a the Queen Bee boss for over 3 years at a Fortune 500 company. She has isolated me from everyone and made me feel like I am not good enough and should be thankful that I am in this role. That no one else will want me. She accuses me of not being smart enough, not enthusiastic enough, not supportive enough (after dozens of rounds of her edits), and her volatile personality makes it really hard to follow her direction. She persecutes me for things I'm not responsible for and reassigns my projects to other people without warning. It has gotten so bad that I almost want to quit this career path that I love so much. I know I am good at my job and don't deserve her abuse. I've been trying to stay patient while finding a new job elsewhere. I just feel so alone and unsupported here.

Rubybythebeach on May 01, 2018:

I am now and have been abused by a supervisor for the past 8 weeks. Most recently I tried to report him and to my surprise he had reported I was being insubordinate. The word hate doesn't describe how I feel and I am in a really bad financial situation and he knows it. He knows I won't quit. So he goes to HR and makes up stories to keep me in line. I cry everyday and I have even started taking something to help my nerves. I don't know how much longer this can go on. I am at my ropes end.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on April 24, 2018:

Thanks for sharing your story Rita. It is even more wrong for business owners and CEOs who are aware of it let it go on. There should be systems in place to monitor supervisors.

Rita Corr on April 23, 2018:

I know someone who is a supervisor and say things that are humilhating to me in front of other people, previous bosses i had would call in private but she does not care, she enjoys to humilhate, on the other hand, others that are not under her supervision she pretends to be nice, it is sad that people like that is in position of leadership, people who does not how to treat an employee does not deserve to be in charge of anything.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 14, 2018:

I am retired now, but your article really caught my attention. In my working life I had great bosses and I had a couple that were two steps away from hell. I will never forget those two. There were times when I sat at home and thought do you really want to go in today. A few times I didn't. Maybe a boss doesn't have to be perfect, but you should never downright hate them. However, sometimes you have to grin and bear it. The bills have to get paid.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 27, 2018:

Thank you so much for sharing your uplifting story Better on the Other Side. I love your attitude, and I hope others read what you have to say. You're right too many people are dying from stress related illnesses, and there's always something better.

Better on the other side on March 27, 2018:


I just quit a job with a boss who had all of these traits. Three weeks ago I went into her office to have her clarify a task she gave me and she yelled at me....for the last time.

The words "I quit" calmly escaped my lips -and I was free. Have no idea where the words came from but the last three days have been a special kind of heaven- even without a job- The job will come :)

While I don't recommend quitting the way I did (I'm a risk taker of epic proportions), I do recommend leaving.

I'm not one for documenting, recording, and escalating incidents. And CYA tactics are not for me. If I can't trust you, I can't work with you..Period. No matter the pay.

To me, your health is all you have. When that's gone....you know :) People should take thier health more seriously. Besides, stress-related illnesses kill way too many people in this country.

So, thank you for the content.I stumbled on this discussion after my former employer's HR Department left me a voicemail which sent me back to the proverbial "warzone."

I've ignored HR for the most part because rumor had it my boss has gone through 4 employees in 5 years: one she fired after a confrontation, one she tried to fire after a confirmation but the guy recorded her threating to fire him for his army reserve obligation, and two who flat out quit. The other employee who quit received a settlement from the company in lieu of litigation; as did the other two which is probably why HR keeps pestering me.

I don't plan to sue. I'm just happy to not be affiliated with such an organization.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 24, 2018:

The "why" can drive you insane in a situation like you're describing. When behaviors don't make sense and you can't control them because they are the thoughts and feelings of someone else, it's best to change your focus. Focus on yourself, your skills and what you put into the world. The fact that you're working with a disability is amazing. You're awesome and since they choose not to be awesome quit asking yourself why they do what they do.

Kkosel on March 22, 2018:

I have a boss that accuses me of being mean. I have always been kind and hard working. They never ask me questions or anything, just asscuse. I believe due to a disability they are making things very difficult. How can they just accuse and not even question you. The only time I ever even are contacted is through disrespectful and accusatory notes. Please help

19th Nervous Breakdown on March 16, 2018:

My life has been essentially ruined through horrible work situations. I have entered relationships I knew were abusive because of this. One obvious solution is to quit, but then what would I do for income? Another solution is to save money so I can retire early, but how can I do that if I can't earn enough to live on? Yet another solution is to come up with a creation and market it, but how can I think when I never know what's going to happen next?

This is what causes workplace violence - victims snap when they're forced into a corner and there's no other way out.

Jay on March 13, 2018:

In my current job, I have a boss who constantly singles me out, especially when it comes to large scale projects. He micromanages me, encourages my 1st shift counterpart to single me out as well (I work 2nd shift) and treats all of my attempts at voicing my grievances as excuses.

I would quit, but financially, I cannot do so without a job to go to. When I get home, I'm usually left too exhausted to look for work. To say that I feel trapped is an understatement.

The kicker to this is that when I was first starting out at the company, he was my first interviewer. He didn't hire me, so I went to another location and was hired on the spot. I even moved up to shift lead eventually. Long story short, the company swapped the boss that hired me with the one who didn't.

And here I am.

Gift on March 10, 2018:

I am always shouted by my manager and the own tell me bullshit or fuck you i Dont feel camfortble at work safe and the other thing I work as a waiter my salary us less than 2000 rand a month and they take 30% of my tips every week which is all most 4500 a month that he steal from me anyone could help me I will be happy my call number is 079 8286701

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 09, 2018:

Thank you Katherine you make a lot of excellent points. Especially with what you said about how much happier you are now since you started your own company. I believe that when something bad happens it leads to something better. If it wasn't the way it was at that administrative job you might not have started your own business. It pushed you to do what you really wanted.

It must have been frustrating not being able to get help because you're not a minority. She sounds like she might fit the Queen Bee, profile, and she definitely wasn't a happy person. Miserable people can't be changed.

You're also correct about administrative jobs. I took a job at the front desk of a hotel and it turned out to be a great place for abuse in the workplace research. The bosses aren't abusive per se but they didn't manage the place either. Many of the staff were abusive and it was a hostile work environment. I learned so much.

I'm very glad to hear how everything worked out for you and really appreciate your comments. Thank you.

Katherine's List on March 09, 2018:

I was fired unfairly after working just under 4 weeks under my supervisor. When I first started, she wouldn't talk to me, answer my questions, and even forbade me to speak or ask anyone questions in the building except her. She wanted me to do her duties so she could leave at 3:00 to go to her son's "football practice". I wasn't even there for four days when she told me not to speak to anyone. She wouldn't train me at all for my job, and wanted me to do her work so she could leave early. Unbelievable. This woman was so cruel and abusive to me. I have never in my life met a woman this crazy. She also had her little minion steal things off my desk and hide them in hers. I went to the director and he told me that I should talk to her. I explained to him that she wouldn't talk to me. He said that there was nothing that he could do. A couple weeks later she fired me. She told me that I didn't have the skills to do the job. Frankly, I was way overqualified for the job. It was a receptionist position, and I had a BA in Psychology, along with 25 years of office experience. I went back to work when my daughter was 6, but this was 2014 and the economy was still in a slump. I took the job, and was excited about it, and then this happened. I believe women are targeted by other women, because they are jealous and insecure with who they are. This woman was not college educated. I was. She was going through a divorce. I was happily married. She was very unattractive, I wasn't. I truly think she hired me to hurt me. I have never met anyone like her in my life. I can see why she was going through a divorce. She was crazy. I didn't take the firing very well. I tried to sue the company, but 4 different attorneys said that because I was a white woman and my supervisor was white, there was nothing I could do about it, because I wasn't in a protected group. Which means, because I was white there was no case. What a screwed up world. Who makes up these rules? I never got over it, and I finally decided to start my own business. I am truly happy now. I love what I do, and I am very successful at it. I would advise people to either start their own business or go back and get a masters degree. These administrative jobs are very belittling and demeaning.

Jane on February 22, 2018:

I have been working for my boss for four weeks. He refuses to pay any wages and all the contractors don't get paid either. He is abusive to all staff and gets off at their reactions to not being paid. The contractors are painters, builders, plumbers etc so when they complete their job and are left without pay they react in anger. Then he just employees more contractors and the same thing happens. This is how he gets free renovations on his investment properties.

Anonymouse on February 07, 2018:

Oh boy. This is familiar. I am currently awake in the middle of the night, losing sleep. I'm terrified that I won't receive a job offer because of my previous boss, who, by these standards, was definitely abusive. I'm worried she'll lie about me to potential employers, because she lied to unemployment about me after firing me for a reason she just made up. (On the plus side, they decided that the reason for my firing as given by her wasn't just and I did get the unemployment money.) She might have been what you call a "Queen Bee", since we're both female, although I'm still confused about why she targeted me. She lied to me, accused me of lying when I wasn't, and used the company's disciplinary system improperly to punish me for things I didn't do or for breaking rules that she never told me about. I was kept in the dark about important job matters, although I got the idea fairly quickly that she didn't like me. I caught some managers from the same place who worked with her talking about me behind my back after I was fired... VERY unprofessional. I'm sure that if she could ruin my chances of finding another job for life, she would.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on January 28, 2018:

Hi, Mari Lane. That's awesome! I'm so glad the article helped raise your confidence. That's the best outcome I could have hoped for.

Mari Lane on January 24, 2018:

My last two bosses, definitely didn't have any training on how to manage people. One hit every topic you mentioned. No weekly meetings, because "they are just a waste of time" I got her to try but she could not handle collaboration, had not patience or interest in what everyone else was saying, she set up email so she got my emails too and would actually respond...that was a first. None of us knew what the other was working on and yet, we were a small civic organization that needed to collaborate...it was crazy. The worst, this was one of 3 jobs where board members said they had hoped I could fix things....after I left, rather than prepare me in the beginning and give me some leverage. Not sure I will ever work for a woman again. But your article validated my experiences, and raised my confidence as I am an effective leader/team builder, and just know I need to be somewhere that I have the support I need. Thank you!!

Anne on November 14, 2017:

This article is word for word what I am experiencing in the workplace. I've tried going to HR, tried writing it in the company employee engagement survey. Both made the situation worse. I can't leave the job as I haven't found another. Most recently I was called in because of a facial expression. My boss walked by the meeting room and told me that I had a "look" that was negative and angry. The supervisor that was running the meeting said she did not notice. I was also told my body posture looked awkward. ( I am currently under medical care for an inflamed spinal condition). I was pushed to disclose my personal/ medical information At that time. I was also told that I am not allowed to speak to a fellow employee supervisor socially or interact with other team members. These types of meetings with my boss are always done behind closed doors. I have no issues with my job or any co-workers, and exceed my job expectations. I'm frustrated and searching for suggestions. We are both female. Can you offer any suggestions?

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on September 23, 2017:

Thank you for your comment Curious . That doesn't sound like a very productive work environment -

for either of you. Perhaps leaving is a good idea, but doing it tactfully so not to create any problems between you and your children. Maybe it will work itself out. The article doesn't really apply to a personal relationship between boss and employee. It sounds like you work hard to do your job well, and that's all that should realistically be expected from you, don't you think? You'd know better what your ex is like and if it's a phase or not.

Curious on September 18, 2017:

Well my ex hired me as if she wanted to help me make a better choice in life so I took the job and its been very very hard working with her due to the fact that she's always mad. Every day I worked with her shes harder on me than everybody else. She won't even let a person change a garbage can for me during a busy moment when I could use the help. Other duties I had about a week of "training" before I had to do every task alone but I've had to train new people (which is okay) but I still have to assist them in the areas I only had a week to learn and when it could be the other way around it never is if she is the manger (other managers make them do their work now unless its her then she makes me do it). Another thing along with that is she will send me home (and this is from me asking one day I was off and she called and asked to borrow money) because I've made her mad and its not because of lack of work its because the only way she can make me mad is by messing with my money which stops me from doing my job as a father. So it even gets WORSE. Sex is wanted from me but I refuse to because I feel it will only make it worse at the job. So with me not doing that and the fact I work with other (attractive) women (who like me lol) every day its something but lately its just been get out idk I'm done typing and I just need an answer before I just quit my job

Liz on August 27, 2017:

I quit my job 8 months ago because I was being bullied my supervisor. She was so cruel when I left-- she made comments about my intellengence, personal attacks about my relationships with others in the office, and was gossiping about me to my coworkers as I was walking out the door. I tried to go to her boss and was told it was all in my head and to go away. I have been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder ever since. Even though I am not there anymore I am still having a difficult time with some bad memories. I am so tired of feeling anxious and depressed. I have a good job now but I'm terrified of something like this happening to me again. I have done everything I can -- therapy, anti- depressants. I feel like I am never going to be myself again. The worst part is that I feel like I didn't stand up for myself, though I really don't know what else I could have done.

P D J R on August 03, 2017:

This information is confirmation to me and my decision NEVER to return to this place again. What makes my situation worse, is that I gave up EVERYTHING to help her begin her venture. I don't believe our friendship will ever be able to mend

Cindylou on August 02, 2017:

I just quit a job that I loved because of a woman exactly like all of the above. So much of this is true and fits exactly what I just went through the last few months. Such vindictiveness and cruelty. And this is working in a Christian non- profit. My volunteers are heartbroken I left. They absolutely loved me. It hurts, but I couldn't take the abuse any longer or walking on eggshells.

Elemental23 on July 25, 2017:

Hi Everyone, I've worked in the corporate world since I was 24 now I am 47. I work with two other women, one of them is my team leader. The HR is based overseas. My TL is the most volatile & extreme personality I've ever worked with. She micromanages me, belittles me, does not praise me when I hit targets, put on my Performance Review without me knowing that I am an under achiever in the job role and oh she is social friends with our other colleague but still treats her badly at times also. My TL has the queen bee syndrome & is due to have a baby (poor child) in a few weeks. But endeavours to return in 12 months. The person who is standing in for 12 months instantly witnessed her rudeness & has made me aware that he is disgusted as he is aware of how bitchy & mean women can be in the work place. I have tried to gently in a pacifying manner address my TL's behaviours towards her in a one-on-one meeting but she just totally dismisses how I feel. Which is narcissistic. She also nit picks everything. She gets away with so much that she shouldn't be getting away with. She would not last a day or a week in other work places I've been in. I never mirror her & or meet her energy but remain poker faced because she is wanting me to react to her the way she treats me. I am also excluded from all social gatherings including her baby shower last weekend when our one other colleague was invited because they are social friends. I am feeling isolated & have been getting sick from stress. But on the flip side I really love my job & the Company Brand I work for. In time karma will serve her accordingly. Amen.

Catlady51 on June 01, 2017:

I worked on a farm for this guy, and he wouldnt talk, he'd scream at me. Then it got where he was belittling me calling me bad names etc. I couldnt handle it anymore. He fired me before i could quit.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on April 15, 2017:

Hello Hendu. I apologize for the late reply, I've been traveling. You need to keep your sanity and focus so you can do your job effectively. I think you've described a miserable person in general or miserable because they're dealing with the same behaviors from someone above them. Either way you probably won't be able to change their behavior unless they're open to suggestions - which is unlikely.

Thankfully, you can change how you allow him or her to affect you. If you're in a bind you just have to change your mind. Don't allow them to transfer their stress to you and try to ignore the tension. That's easier said than done, but how they feel and act is their problem. Your problem is not allowing their mental state to affect you. When they behave negatively just ask yourself if there's anything you can do, if the answer is no, ignore them and think of something that makes you smile - have a mental list ready before you get to work of places you can go.

You said you have a great job. Is there a way for you to transfer to a different department. You don't even have to say why, just find a reason why you'd love working somewhere else (if that's an option). This way you can escape the situation, but still keep a great job.

Hendu on April 04, 2017:

I find myself in this circumstance and the stress and tension that have come as a result of it have concerned me. Unreasonable, illogical, abusive, demeaning, untrusting, micromanaging, profane, just some of the words to describe this angry, unhappy, controlling individual. I am NOT in a position to leave, I find myself torn between a great job and escape. Advice please.

Stacy B. on February 09, 2017:

I am in this situation right now. I've been with the company for 13 years and it was sold to someone else. This person is sooo abusive. He will tell you to your face that he is trying to force you to go. He has actually said to me I don't know how you can handle so much rejection! I very politely stated that he continues to test my resilience every single day. I have absolutely no respect for him at all and he knows it. I have just become hard as a rock and don't let him know it bothers me. But it does. I am looking for another position but I want a position that is right for me and not just a way to get away from him. He is giving all the accounts that come in to others - even incompetent ones. So in turn they try to ask questions and he sends them to me to help them. He has yelled at me in front of others and is constantly degrading. I have told him he speaks condescendingly to people too. One time he did something really crappy to me and I looked at him and said. Lets look at this from another standpoint....do you really think that what you just did is going to motivate me to be a better employee?

I think he is the worst manager that I have ever encountered. He is basically a trust fund baby who thinks he is a big man now.

Georgette Haviland on February 05, 2017:

This site was very helpful. I realize even the small, passive and what may seem to be "petty," behaviors are bullying tactics. TY

Workerfedup on November 28, 2016:

Boss abuses is also treating other employees with kindness and respect but ignoring you unless it's to just micromanage and also blaying you with no proof

I'm bring abuser in front of staff.

The head manager compliments my accuracy in my work and has told me she few mistakes is no big deal since my work load a very heavy and demanding.

Yet the abusive manager does this

1. Announcing the littliest mistake I do. She says it rudely and publicly in front of staff. It is said loudly and not nice, more like snubbing.

2. She is friends with 2 other staff members, she let them mess with my work after I left and then in the morning accusing me of doing something with my work only a child would do. She said I threw all my work through the store.

They have cameras and can see I didn't do it.

She then just believed them or was apart of the set up and now has said to entire staff I am not organized and they need to organize the things for me. She now makes me do things in very small steps

3. Every day she greets everyone, laughs and talKS to them, but she shakes her head at me or rolls her eyes and don't speak

4. She gives emplayers hired after me light duty if they want it and also the chance to change their schedules at will and over time. I get none of this.

5. She change my work schedule at last minute making me work five straight graveyard shift and then put me on for 7 more says with one day off between, so it wouldnt count as over time.

She has lunch with staff, and they whisper and when I come out they get quiet. If I try to speak to anyone they don't speak or say while walking away "I don't know" even if it is about what something about the job I know they know cause they suppose to be training

The people I was told to go to help me with my work now refuse to help. They are the same group of people that she likes and jokes with and who she front on me around.

When no one is around, sometime she says "you are not going fast enough, u r taking to long"

I am not on time deadlines or quota, and there is at least 2 hours left in my work.

I'm done with my work ever day with just 3 mistakes. I have no more than 3 mistakes out of an entire store pricing.

You can imagine what it was like around thanksgiving. Also she rushed me after she gave me 4 different job duties.

She keeps trying to make it like the new employee can do my job better than me. She tells me to do one thing, then interrupt me to do another and then another and then complain that the first thing was not done

When I tried to tell her I could not work 14 days withat one day off, she got very ignorant and said "I work 10 days"

She tries to make me come in extra days to do other people's work, stocking.

I know now she is trying to wear me down so I don't show up for work and she can give my job to the girl hired after me who she really likes. Although she stands and just gossip with her while I do most of the work.

The amount of abuse I go thru, is so much that I plan on writing human resources and resigning tomorrow.

It's just been to much.

Brenda on October 30, 2016:

Recently I have been pulled into the office and told I was demeaning my staff...when I've never done such a thing because someone did that to me. Every week my boss is bickering at me if it's not one thing it's another, then he tries to deny things he's told me yes to. He keeps sending his assistant to my store instead of himself, I have a hearing problem so I got into trouble for my loud voice also. Every week it seems like they are riding me...and last week they had me into tears more then once...I'm wondering if they are trying to push me out on purpose so someone else can take over.

Dee on October 27, 2016:

This is a very good article. I'm three months into my new job and have been made to feel incapable, untrustworthy and actually downright stupid. The good news is I know its them and not me. I listen and watch the ridicule of others, talking bad about current and past employees and continuous micro managing. Since I've been there one employee walked out the door, two others were fired. You know whats incredible, I'm still hearing how terrible all of these past employees where when in truth its the boss and remaining employees (family members) that are the problem. Hoping to find a new job soon, that not only pays the bills but where people are valued.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on October 27, 2016:

“Uhh. What?” Thank you so much for your thoughts Liz, but I don't understand what you're saying so I cannot respond properly.

Liz on October 27, 2016:

It seems that this was past advise for women in abusive relationships. Get out of the environment. Lose tenure, income, dignity, status. Just run.

It can't be legal to be isolated, demeaned, discussed and reduced while your performance is on target.

Employers and their managers must have legal limits. This is not a matter of re-training, but an actual attack on a person.

Why should a highly competent woman move on as a cure to an Abusive Boss.

If you are in a customer facing profession, it can take years to regain clientele and income status.

And please do not come back with, which is worse, because that is not an argument, it simply falls into the old adage of 'until it happens to you'.

Where to go with this type of advanced problem other that the organizations HR department, whose sole purpose is to mitigate exposure for the organization.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on October 07, 2016:

Hi CJ, and thanks for your comment.

Your boss sounds like he's got some issues, and it must suck sharing space with him :( ... I hope you don't take his behavior personally, it's him - NOT YOU. Good luck on finding a new job :D

CJ on September 30, 2016:

I'm currently working for a boss that will not speak to me unless he has to, and it's mainly to tell/yell at me what I did wrong. Yet he refuses to train me! I dread going to work! Oh and we share an office! Praying my job interview went well today...fingers crossed!!!

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on September 30, 2016:

Thanks JS, and you're right about how to create and thrive in a work environment.

JS on September 24, 2016:

Respect, trust, and autonomy are three key elements in a work environment for employees to grow and share. Great article on the subject. These 3 types of bully boss behavior are often masked in form of silent sabotage.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 14, 2016:

Thanks Lynn and good luck with your research and finding a new job.

Lynn on August 14, 2016:


Thank you very much for your encouaging and kind words. I have been in a bad situation for too long and sometimes forget to try and appreciate the good that still exists there. I also do have some great co-workers which does help with the day to day. It is also refreshing to read the post from others on this thread because sometimes unless you have experienced it, it can be hard to understand. This experience has really opened my eyes to how the work environment can really affect our lives especially if a culture of bullying and mistreatment is allowed. I did learn something interesting...there is a bill called Healthy Work Place Bill...which is trying to make bullying in the work place illegal. I have to do more research on this bill but I found it encouraging.

I will continue to apply to other jobs and look forward to working in a healthier environment.

Thanks again for your reply and for this great article.

Brian on August 13, 2016:

I want to thank the author of this article. Though four years old. You know the net, the information is there forever. It's still helpful.

I have to come clean. My verbal abuser has tried to break me, reduce me to a broken man.

My abusers have been my bosses in retail.

I was a good student. I had a good gpa. I was thoughtful, kind, and liked by my classmates. I had alot of goodfriends. I had girlfriends. I played sports, I went to church.

I started to think there was a time before I was abused where life was beautiful. I was cared for by my friends and girlfriends.

And then I began walking into a dark trap set by abusive managers and co workers.

This trap had a feeling. It was bad. I was walking into danger. I was intuitive that someone at work was an abuser.

My sixth sense told me. Yet I couldn't pull away.

My abusers where the very people that I worked with.

My first abuser a woman, manager of a bowling alley. She would call me short behind my back with other male coworkers.

My next abuser another female spread false rumors that I was gay. I've to date have had 20 girlfriends.

My next abuser flipped out on me when a chair went off sale price. She yelled screamed, cussed, red faced, pointed fingers in my face.

She was again a white female.

My next abuser was another white female. She was full of nasty putdowns. I had bent over backwards to fold her shirts, put them in gift boxes. She had 20 items. She was nasty.

Then there was white female who turned security guards on me. Then another.

Then there was the white female who made threats to kill me. She said. Your

damn right I'll kill you.

Something had gone horribly wrong.

My abuser was the same sex and race of my ex girlfriends.

My abuser is white females.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 11, 2016:

Hi Lynn. It sickens me that you're so stressed and feel hopeless - there's always hope :) The best way to get through bad situations is to change your mindset. I don't have enough room, or information to list all the ways in this comment.

I'm a firm believer in what I call HAD - Hope, Amazing, Dynamic

There's always hope.Hope never leaves we just forget it's there sometimes - cling to hope that your life will change, for the better.

Remember that you're amazing. You have the strength to get through your job until you find another one. Try to look for things at work you can be grateful for; and cherish the blessings in your personal life. Focus on the future and what life will be like when you don't work there anymore.

Life is dynamic and constantly changing so a new job could come to you tomorrow.

Other Survival Strategies

You can't change your environment, but you can change your attitude and how you look at things.

Never blame yourself. Try to be positive and don't let yourself feel helpless.

Only worry about things within your control. See what things you can do, to survive or make your work environment easier to deal with, then do them.

Focus on your strengths

Look for something good, at least one thing. For example, the receptionist is great; the scenery outside the window is spectacular; your seat is extremely comfortable. Positive thinking always makes our view of the world better.

Be gracious and kind to others, don't let the hostile work environment change how you to treat people.

Guard your emotions. If you're easily upset or show your emotions, try to hide them. Bullies pick on people they can intimidate.

When you feel stress smile - it's weird, but it works - you feel better. Think of something funny, or if you can go online and find something you find funny, put a funny picture on your phone.

Get support from someone else at work. Even if you can't stop the toxicity, it's always good to have support; and someone to vent to.

When you're at home focus all you attention on the people, pets and things you love. Don't let the BS at work come home with you. A complete break will help you cope better with work.

I hope this helps, and good luck Lynn

Lynn on August 11, 2016:


I actually have a question..What should someone do that has an abusive supervisor but can't quit their job right away? I work in a very toxic environment and my supervisor displays the abusive behavior in your article. Myself and colleagues have complained to HR but nothing is really done. It is very stressful and at times feels hopeless. I basically spend all my spare time looking for another job but in the meantime how can I handle this situation?


Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on July 20, 2016:

Thanks Mel. You would have a very different view being a dude and all.

That's great you have the opportunity to work alone without a boss hovering.

Mel Carriere from San Diego California on July 16, 2016:

I have known Queen Bees. If you're a dude they're great - especially when they make a spectacle about demeaning a female boss that has been abusing you, which they make a point of doing to increase their popularity with the guys. But never having been inside a female's skin I wouldn't know anything about how a woman deals with it, except that it must be horrible.

I have had my share of abusive bosses, of every garden variety. Abusive bosses are why I went back to carrying mail, where I am my own boss, for the most part. Great article!

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on June 25, 2016:

Hi. That's a great point, and an entirely different article, Thanks.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on June 25, 2016:

That's great advice, thanks.

Liv on June 24, 2016:

You described a fellow employee who was trying to make our boss look like the abuser to everyone... we couldn't go to lunch without this employee or she'd throw a fit and lie to upper management about us - we couldn't leave work at a different time, she texted and called us at home after hours and if we didn't answer her questions she'd find a way to make us pay for it. Then she would really do everything she could to set up our boss to upper management to make it look like she was the abusive one.

It's not always the boss who is the abuser in the office!

dede on June 23, 2016:

Thanks for sharing the article. Don't even get me started on my boss. He is EVERYTHING you described in this article! He is one of the biggest Narcissist's that I have ever met!! I have great empathy for anyone who works for a man (or woman) like this.

I could go on for pages about his unacceptable behavior, inconsiderate manners and language (bordering on abuse) but space is limited.

Just want to suggest to anyone with a boss like this, get out as soon as possible!! It truly is detrimental to your mind, body and soul.

prechie on May 03, 2016:

yooooo, you just described my boss

CATHY on May 03, 2016:


Yolanda G on March 23, 2016:

Totally my ex boss to a T. He was so abusive critical and controlling with me especially. It's like he felt I was beneath him.. And try eating at your desk. He would shove filthy patient charts in my face..hello trying to eat lunch...worse treatment I ever experienced from a boss. And when I complained one too many times I got canned. Total narcicism on his part. I'm glad to be away from him finally..get out before it's too late and they blame you in the end. Bosses are not supposed to act like that!

Lee on January 21, 2016:

Wow, great article - thanks. My boss does have some of these qualities, but it is extremely difficult - she thinks she is supportive, believes herself a great ppl person, but undermines you and condescends in such a subtle way that you often don't even notice, except for the fact that you feel upset and are not sure why. She is not like that everyday and outwardly she is very nice. I don't even think she knows she is doing it and I don't think anyone has ever told her - because it is so hard to pinpoint. She is extremely soft spoken and never raises her voice. Sometimes I wish I had someone who was so obviously dreadful that I could identify it immediately. Worst still she is completely incompetent :-/

Reena Dhiman on September 19, 2014:

Thank god my boss is not like that. But hey thanks a ton for sharing such a nice article.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on August 28, 2014:

I hope you're wrong Wms, and everything works out for you. Good Luck!!!

Wms on August 27, 2014:

I have this same problem at Cracker Barrel with 3 managers , so Monday we had a Mandatory meeting at the Holiday inn , and i brought it up to my General Manger .. Now i will sit back and wait to see what happens next.. the Topic of this meeting was the Guiding Principles , about dignity and respect , well like i spoke up and told the GM , How do you give respect to your managers if they dnt respect you , plus these 3 managers they dog me . im permanently disabled , i was ran over in 2007 . and these people know this . and they will hire a person with any kind of disability cause its in the policy. but they pound me super hard with a list then if it all dsnt get done , then they tell you that you suck . just like i got told last sunday . 2 managers are demeaning and controlling , the other is a woman that acts like a man and is a huge bully to us all.. and she hates men , i know ive heard her degrade them right in front of me . with out them knowing what she said ... she says men / boys are no good for nothing and shouldn't have been brought in to this world or put on this earth . i was only there for 3 weeks when she said that .. well like i said now i will sit back and wait for the storm to get worse ..

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on October 04, 2013:

I'm glad to hear DDE that you were able to quit before she tried her acts on you, especially since she was also physically abusive.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 04, 2013:

An easy to understand hub on this topic I had an abusive boss but quit before she tried her acts on me, she verbally abusive with her employees and sometimes physically abusive.

JeffMark59 on July 09, 2013:

My boss exhibits the first symptom - demeaning others, including me, in front of us - at times when he is not in a good mood. But he does not exhibit the other two. I've been with him for 18 years, and with 6 years to go before full retirement, I tolerate him. Mainly because except for that, he's been OK. At this point, he has to live another 6 years, becuse I could get a jerk replacing him. I have flexable schedule and good pay, etc. When I retire, I'll send him a copy of this, and mention it on my exit interview!

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on July 04, 2013:

Hi torrilynn. Thank you for vote up, and your welcome.

torrilynn on July 03, 2013:

Thanks for helping others to recognize the signs of an abusive boss. My last boss was verbally abusive and negative. Thanks for the insight. Voted up and shared!

FullOfLoveSites from United States on May 21, 2013:

I really really couldn't take it the most if my boss is prying over my personal life. That's going tooooo far! So far haven't encountered such extreme boss. Demeaning, yes I have come across some -- even if you're wrong they still have no right to belittle anyone.

As if they weren't once on the lower ranks before, huh?

Thanks for your very informative hub. Learning a lot from it. :)

Rupesh Malik on May 20, 2013:

Well written Kora... Reading all the above comments reminded me of my bad experiences of working under a bad boss. Over the time period, I mustered the courage to vent out all my feelings in the form of a Facebook page called "TheBadBosses"

Bill Tollefson from Southwest Florida on April 20, 2013:

I agree strongly with billybuc and creativelycc on their comments. Abuse in any form is unacceptable. Do not allow your soul to be eaten and then fill empty.

Carrie L Cronkite from Maine on April 19, 2013:

Excellent hub and I agree with you 100% If your boss has any of these traits, it will eat your soul and seriously compromise your self-confidence. No job is worth that. Voted up.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 03, 2013:

I left an abusive boss back in 2010 and became a freelance writer. Best decision I have made. :) Abuse of any form is unacceptable.

H C Palting from East Coast on March 23, 2013:

This is an absolutely useful and honest hub. There are many people that truly suffer at the hands of their bosses and bystanders at work. As for the suicidal woman, these situations are not uncommon. Most people will suffer if they don't have a job and standing up for themselves typically means they will no longer be able to work for that employer. Going even further, spiteful bosses and their minions will attempt to make it impossible for that employee to go elsewhere if given the chance. Darned if you stand up, darned if you don't.

lovedoctor926 on March 10, 2013:

Awesome hub! Useful information. I used to work for a boss who always had something negative to say about her previous employers. I remember this one young lady who she hired to work as her assistant. She was very impressed with her work ethics, but she was dying for her to leave because this person was very aloof. Then, she complained about another guy who used to take very long coffee breaks and who was too laid back. Thanks for sharing this gem.

Lois Ryan from Upstate NY originally from Long Island on March 10, 2013:

I have been lucky about bosses. Usually if a boss in our place was verbally abusive they did not last long. I have had bosses when they were new were untrusting. Then when they were there a while they understood the employees jobs better.

Sueswan on March 10, 2013:

Hi KoraleeP

"Talking to you disrespectfully and verbally trying to undermine your confidence, should also be strictly prohibited." I have experienced this from an ex boss. I went on to get a job in another department. The ex boss got fired not just because how she treated me because she was bullying others and was incompetent. I remember my new boss asking how I felt about her being fired. I told him that I wish her no harm but I have no sympathy for either.

Voted up and awesome and sharing.

Have a good day.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on March 01, 2013:

Great idea iguidenetwork. I guess that could be one thing obnoxious bosses are good for is to be example of someone not to emulate. Thanks for the vote!

iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on March 01, 2013:

I have seen and encountered few obnoxious bosses. Being a sort of a boss myself in my own little firm, I try not to become one. Voted up. :)

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on February 28, 2013:

Thank you wabash annie!

wabash annie from Colorado Front Range on February 28, 2013:

Great topic! Bullied people feel so very isolated. Thanks for writing about the situation.

Koralee Phillips (author) from Vancouver British Columbia Canada on January 21, 2013:

Thanks jpcmc For the vote up! I really feel for people stuck dealing with an abusive work environment. It would be great if more laws were put in place to stop it.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on January 21, 2013:

This hub is very important Koralee. Many employees fail to see the signs of an abusive boss. As such they simply endure the wrath of a bully boss. A healthy employee-boss relationship is the key to a productive work day. Moreover, it will help create better business. I voted up my friend.