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How to Deal With the Verbally Abusive Boss

Updated on June 9, 2016

When times are good and you are young and single, quitting your job to find a new one is relatively easy. When times are tough and jobs are hard to find, especially later in life when you have a family and a mortgage to support, leaving a job is no longer an easy thing. If your boss is verbally abusive, using fowl language and yelling at you, and you cannot readily quit and seek a better situation, you have to deal with it.

Yet dealing with your abusive boss day in and day out is wearing and stressful. We spend so much time at work, it's a shame that so big a percentage of one's life should be so unpleasant.

Here are some strategies you can use to help you get through this difficult time.

The Professional Persona

It is important, not just at work, but in every aspect of your life to realize that no one can make you feel bad with words alone without your consent. People can say whatever they want to you, but your reaction to what they say is your responsibility, and potentially your problem.

Your best defense against the verbally abusive boss is the professional persona. The professional persona is a person that you fabricate in your mind so that you can be that person at work. In other words, you become an actor playing a part while you are at work. When the boss is abusive, it is directed at the professional persona, not at you.

To construct your professional persona, first you have to visualize situations that really bother you at work and think about how your professional persona is going to react to these situations. Think about how your professional persona will act and what it will say. Ideally your professional persona will be friendly, but detached and unemotional. When your boss, let's call him Dick, yells at you and calls you stupid or worse in front of the customers, your professional persona will have a prepared unemotional response that you think will most expediently mollify the situation. The response should be designed to convey to Dick that you agree with his assessment of your worthlessness, but also that you are eager to improve. The response should be delivered completely without sarcasm.

"I'm sorry, Dick. Would you mind if I observe while you do it so that I can learn to do it correctly?"

"Yes, Dick, I guess that was a pretty stupid thing to say. What should I have said? I want to make sure I say it right next time..."

and so on. Pracitce in front of the mirror until you can deliver the line you compose without any emotion whatsoever.

In addition to defusing the immediate situation, this tactic steals Dick's payoff for his bad behavior. You see, Dick wants to degrade you in order to build himself up at your expense. If your professional persona is there, deflecting all attacks with an eagerness to learn and a hair-trigger readiness to admit fault, it is really going to take all the fun out of it for your boss, Dick. Just like any bully, if his bullying is incapable of making you miserable, he will stop doing it because it will no longer be worthwhile to him.

Be patient, however, because Dick is not going to metamorphose into Prince Charming overnight. Your professional persona will have to wear him down over time. Whether or not you can wait this long is entirely up to you. However, if your professional persona is doing its job, you should immediately be getting a side benefit from it. That is to say that since the professional persona, with its enthusiasm for improvement and lack of reaction to abuse, is not you, you should no longer be taking work's problems home with you. You should begin leaving them at the door when you leave work, as you leave your professional persona there as well.

Confronting the Issue

Confrontation is best avoided with an abusive boss, because the abusive boss is seeking confrontation with you. To confront the abusive boss is in some measure to play into his or her hand. However, once your professional persona is firmly established in the workplace, you can use its professionalism to confront the boss's abuse on some levels:

"Excuse me, Dick. Can we keep our conversations professional?"

Dick may have a difficult time arguing with an employee who wants to raise the standards of professionalism at their place of employment.

"Dick, if I may say so, I really don't think it's good for the company for you to swear at me in front of the customers."

Once again, Dick may have have difficulty arguing with an employee who has the good of the company at heart.

You may think you would never dare say anything like that to your boss, but if you deliver each sentence politely, in a calm, reasonable voice, without any emotion at all, you can make a statement like that without incurring his wrath.

Appealing to a Higher Power

If your boss, Dick, is the highest power within your workplace, you can appeal to a government agency if the harassment your boss is subjecting you to meets certain criteria. In the United States, there are strict rules against harassment on the bases of many criteria. These fall under the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They offer protection for 'whistleblowers', that is, those who inform on their bosses' bad behavior. Your boss may find that even while they are being investigated and perhaps fined or prosecuted because of you, they will be legally prevented from firing you or taking any punitive action against you.

This action may mean that you will want to leave your job in the near future, however, since Dick's desire to retaliate may make you uncomfortable enough to want to leave.

If you work in a company where your immediate boss, Dick, has a boss above him, (let's call Dick's boss, 'Sheila'), then the logical power to appeal to is Sheila. This is risky, however, because Sheila may not offer whistleblower protection as does the EEOC, and Dick may find a way to terminate you for your trouble if you go over his head. Therefore you should only go to Sheila after exhausting all avenues with Dick.

Since Sheila most likely knows Dick better than she knows you, she may look for ulterior motives in your actions. Also, Dick's behavior is somewhat of a reflection on Sheila, so she may be somewhat defensive. Clearly, to go over your boss's head is to step into a minefield, yet you might navigate that minefield successfully if you are skillful and lucky.

If you decide to approach Sheila, you must make your reluctance clear from the outset at doing so, and make clear also that your motivation is on behalf of the company. Dick's behavior is unprofessional and is bad for the company. The problem is this: if you are a whiny little shirker complaining against just chastisement, you are wasting Sheila's time; if you are a diligent worker approaching middle management with a problem you have been unable to solve with your supervisor despite your best efforts, Sheila should (and may) take note of your complaint and decide whether she needs to have a serious conversation with Dick.

In all of this you must make sure you are correct in your complaint and are not, in fact, a whiny little shirker upset over punitive language you deserved, because if you are, your actions will only serve to expose your poor attitude and performance and likely result in your immediate termination.

Revenge

If you work in a small company where Dick, your boss, is the undisputed king, and you enjoy the work, there is another avenue you could pursue.

If every day Dick is bad-mouthing you in front of the customers, make sure you take extremely good care of the customers. Go the extra mile for the customer at every opportunity. Work with enthusiasm, learning everything you can about the business. In a very short time, the regular customers will realize that Dick is an idiot and that you are a find, and they will shun Dick and seek you out, because they know that you will take care of them. Continue to do so for as long as it takes for you to save up a six months' or a years' salary. Make whatever sacrifices you must - work an extra job if you have to - until you have accumulated this money.

When most of Dick's customers are depending on you because you are simply the best, that money that you saved can serve as the equity you bring to the bank to get a small business loan.

Arrange to meet with an attorney. Tell the attorney you plan to open a business in competition with Dick and send out an announcement to everyone who might need your product or service, including Dick's customers. The attorney will let you know what you have to watch out for.

In my experience, this is what you have to watch out for. First, don't make a list of Dick's customers. If you do, you will be stealing proprietary information, and Dick may sue you and win. Do not solicit Dick's customers specifically, but solicit them as part of a blanket solicitation from a list of similar potential customers you make using the Internet, Yellow Pages or other public resource. Dick doesn't own his customers. he only owns his personal list of contacts, be it kept in a Rolodex or in a Microsoft Outlook address book. So stay away from his Rolodex and his computer, but unless your attorney tells you otherwise, his customers are fair game.

After you leave and things get really, really quiet around Dick's shop, maybe he'll have time to reflect that he should not have been, well, such a Dick.

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      Great article 4 months ago

      We have a CEO who verbally abuses not only his employees, but he never listens to his customers. When you challenge him on a topic instead of providing an answer he will also try to turn it around onto you so that he is not left to provide an answer. It is unfortunate that there are still people out there that don't realize that when someone chooses to take a position with a company they come in with the intention of giving 110% of who they are. I no longer work there but LRC TEG CEXCHANGE is a dick!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 10 months ago from United States

      S.A.W. I am sorry I did not see your comment before. At the time you wrote you were indeed in a very stressful situation. It seems as though your boss went out of her way to make your life miserable, and because she controls your living space she seems to have a lot of power over you.

      If you are still in the same situation, I suggest you look into your rights as a tenant. I suspect it might not be as easy for her to throw you out as she would like you to think.

      In terms of the situation, if you moved out you would take away much of her power over you, and you would have more freedom to look for a new job.

      I wish you the best of luck.

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      Tom Rubenoff 10 months ago from United States

      I'm impressed by the precision and depth of your obviously well-informed critique. Thanks so much for making this exquisite effort. :) Thank you, Candy

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      S.A.W 15 months ago

      I was referred to this position by a friend, my boss is her sister-in-law, I took what she said to heart about her being kind and sweet. I was as ignorant as a newborn calf. I have been here for a year and my boss has yet to train me in various areas of my job and when I try to ask her, such as coming in after work, watching her work, ect.. She says she doesn't have the time or finances. Her philosophy is train as you go. The problem I have with this is that she forgets this and thinks she has shown me something when she hasn't. I work in an apartment complex so there are certain circumstances or tasks that happen maybe once a month or less, such as filling out a deposit slip for rents on the first. I can do it normally and in fact have done it before in my past jobs but there is a certain way she likes it or wants it done, which is the case for almost everything in the office. Which is fine but she won't take the time to show me how she wants it done her way and becomes verbally abusive when I do it a different way or she will only show me once and in the next months time expect me to have it down pact. there are no official training documents since she has the office running the way she wants personally. She also finds it acceptable to yell at me in front of my other coworkers. This isn't an accident; we meet in the office for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes after lunch to plan out the day and she does it when everyone is in the office, not before, not after. every time. She also become forgetful about things she has told me or my coworkers and gets angry when we do it. For example if she tells me to do something such as put paper B in the C file instead of B file like you're normally supposed to, due to X reasons, it takes her about a couple of weeks or a month to forget she has told me and then berates me or yells at me for doing it. This has happened numerous times in different circumstances. She is very bitter and likes to talk down to people, this includes a lot of the younger residents who have left for this reason. She also schedules people to come to the office on the weekends when I am in the office alone without telling me which often conflicts with the schedules I make throughout the week; she refuses to communicate with me about anything so when people come to the office I have no idea what is going on which makes me incompetent. I have tried talking to her about it but she refuses to speak to me saying that she is too busy and far behind. Even if its just a few minutes. I live on property so if i quit or get fired I have 72 hours to leave, technically they have the choice as long as I pay rent but she made it clear that she would rather throw me out first if i ever decided to leave or if she fired me.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      I am honored that you have found my advice helpful. From my humble point of view you are doing everything correctly, including removing yourself from the situation when it is too much for you. It seems this may not be the best time for you to change jobs, though ultimately you may not have a choice, as you seem to suspect.

      I have a couple of suggestions. First, you dress as if you are going to an interview, mention to your boss that you are taking a long lunch, go hide someplace for an hour or two, then return to your job smiling as if you have just aced an interview for the job of your dreams. He may start being a lot nicer to you right away, or he might fire you on the spot.

      Another idea might be to ask straight out what is going on. It could be that he is feeling pressure about the downturn in business and is simply taking it out on you.

      In any case I wish you the best of luck and only good outcomes.

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      theassociate. 3 years ago

      i have been working with my boss for 21 years and fortunate enough to be promoted to this position after 7 years..we've been good and i have been enjoying my job (design associate/architect)not until the last 2 years when he started verbally abusing me and giving abusive comments on my work by emails and mark-up on my drawings/designs. He has been saying that there were no improvements on the quality of our designs the last 5 years. I know that there is a slowdown in the market and that's the main reason and not about our work, and there are very stiff competition among different firms. Just cannot accept him putting all the blames on me, where in fact we both work together for every project, and we have been very successful before..if there were changes in the concept, usually came from him, and i would try to deliver in a very impossible deadline. there were many times i walked out from the office because of disappointments with him, cannot even talk to him properly as he sees it as an argument. the following day he will calm down. I am just waiting for him to fire me, as I will lose a lot if i resign, re: compensation..I am already 50 yrs old and my 2 sons are still in secondary school and 1 is entering university. i applied this professional persona earlier and it works, but at my age, i can't keep my patience anymore. his son, a colleague has been trying to comfort me by saying that even at their home, his dad/boss has been saying a lot about me, his high regards/respect on me. i just don't understand why he has to do it to me in the office where in fact in their home he is telling the opposite. Is he pushing me to quit as he can no longer afford me? is it his way of dealing with it as he cannot lower his pride/ego? Please advise, and thanks a lot for this article.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Robin. If you punish your abusive boss by accomplishing less it will surely make him abuse you less, right? I mean, that's logical. Well, not really. Poor performance gives the bully-boss ammunition. In fact, the bad boss wants employees to fail so that s/he can abuse them more. Working harder (or better) accomplishes two things: it makes the worker feel good, and it makes the abuser's insults hollow and meaningless.

      Kind of like your comment.

      So you advise a lawsuit. Well, it might work - if you have evidence (a few videos for example), witnesses (who are not afraid to lose their jobs and will not cave if they get a raise), and above all, money. It costs lots of money to sue someone, pal. Naturally the workers who are being abused have lots and lots of money; that's why they work in an abuse factory for an hourly wage with a jerk for a boss.

      My 'stupid' advice is that you don't have to spend one dime to do something about your abusive boss. When they abuse you, smile right in their face. Agree with whatever bizarre thing they say and say, "Sure boss, I'll try to do better." Get past the moment and go do your job. Stop depending on someone else to make you feel good. Life is too short to waste time feeling bad about what some bad boss says. Take responsibility for making yourself feel good despite the situation. If you succeed, you will take all the sting out of the abuse and end your suffering. If you fail, you'll have lost nothing but a few moments of your time.

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      robin 3 years ago

      this article gave the stupidest advise I have ever heard. Take the abuse and work harder? that's absurd. You have a right to be free from abuse in the work place and if your not? Then sue the looser. God bless America, we do have rights here.

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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      Child of God, you can decide what matters to you and what does not. If nothing pleases your boss, he must have an unhappy life. Misery loves company, so he makes others unhappy, too. You do not have to make this your problem. You can choose to smile every time he insults you.

      You might well ask, "How can I smile when my boss abuses me?" That's very simple: just do it. Take a deep breath, smile and say, "Okay, boss." When you do that you will rob the bully of half his payoff for abusing you, that is, making you feel bad. You might still feel bad inside, but he won't know it, so as far as he knows he has failed in his mission to make you feel bad about yourself.

      And you will notice, after smiling at his abuse for a while, that it does not make you feel as bad as it did before. I have used this myself with this result. I trust it will work just as well for you. It does not accomplish justice or revenge, but if one believes in a Higher Power one can leave justice and revenge for the Higher Power and attend to one's own affairs.

      You are in an enviable position, just starting out in life and starting a family. I'll bet your boss would give a lot to be in your shoes and have a second chance. But lucky you! You are still on your first chance and you have time not to mess it up.

      What is important? Is it your abusive job or your loving home? If it is your loving home then one thing you MUST do is learn not to let your abusive job ruin your loving home. Therefore you must learn to deal with your abusive boss on your terms, not his, or you must be brave and leave this job and try again somewhere else. You are not too young to start over if that is what you must do.

      I hope my advise is helpful. I wish you the best as you navigate this difficult time.

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      Child of God 3 years ago

      I am frustrated and i don't know what to do.my boss is making my life hell.he verbally abuses me and makes me feel like there's nothing that I'm doing right and never appreciates the things that I do right.always blames me for everything,pretends to help me but always sabotaging me, I am depressed,It's a sunday morning today and I'm already thinking its almost monday,time to face him. I'm still very young 27 years old and I'm starting a family, I have a son, this is starting to affect my home life, I can't even quit the job,too many responsibilities, I apply on a daily basis,everytime i get a chance but finding another job is hard. Please help me before I go insane.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      What a moving story! Some friend he turned out to be. Not only is he a bad friend, he is a bad boss. Disciplining with humiliation does not make good workers, it makes angry, dispirited workers; it destroys hope.

      When you think about it, why would he withhold training and then berate you for not knowing your job? What other reason can it be other than to create someone to berate? Now you know why you have so many predecessors in QM.

      Speaking to a good attorney is a good idea. Be sure to get recommendations. You will benefit from the attorney's advice even if you take no legal action against your boss, because a good lawyer will be logical and pragmatic and will help you to begin to think that way about your situation as well. After all you are dealing with so much!

      You have feelings of betrayal (anger), fear over the prospect of losing your job, frustration at your seeming inability to free yourself of the situation (anger, fear), and despair because the situation seems so impossible, (again anger and fear). Your world is an unhealthy world of stress and it is harming you.

      Your anger-and-fear-based stress is a disease and it is treatable. If you seek out a mind/body medicine specialist they will help you. Mind/body medicine was pioneered by Herbert Bensen and Jon Kabat Zinn who through decades of clinical research have developed proven methods of combating stress and stress related disorders.

      Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than your health.

      I wish you strength, courage and peace as you travel this difficult path. I trust that only the best outcomes await you after these challenges.

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      GypSha 3 years ago

      I was hired by a long time friend after being a victim of the 2008-2013 economy crash! Jobs here in my area are hard to come by. I was an HR professional for 30 years before I was laid off. Finally, I was hired into this company as a Quality Manager - of which I had NO training or experience. My new boss had been my friend for more than 10 years and he saw potential in me -- He wanted a "blank slate" to train to do the job 'his way'... I was ok with that! There had been 5 previous QM's in the last 6 years, but I thought (naively) they must've been odd duck's to quit! I was promised training for the AS9100 Aerospace Standard, but after 15 months, that still hasn't happened. He is horribly abusive, screaming, cursing and refuses to listen to anything I have to say in my defense or explanation for my actions and/or decisions... I have repeatedly asked for formal training, even the AS9100 Auditor has told him I need it to be competent enough to do my job. He refuses, yet calls me horrible names because I can't do my job! I am considering getting an attorney, as I have aged at least 10 years in less than 12 months! He always does his "preaching" (cursing, screaming, spitting, etc.) to me in front of the production staff. He will tell me "I don't give a GD F**K what you have to say, so just shut the F**K up!) I am female, and emotional! I try and do the "persona" and distance myself inwardly, but he makes it impossible and gets my ire up and I react!! And the HR dept.? What a joke! It's his wife!!! GO FIGURE! We have a huge AS9100 audit coming up soon, and I really feel like even tho I managed to pull in a rating of 100% last year, he'll fire me this year if I don't pass, and according to the Lead Auditor I don't stand a chance without the necessary training! Lord knows he lets me know what a GD F***king stupid F**K I am every chance he gets..... and today I became a "measly cockroach". I am in my late 50's and it's too late to start over again -- and I really don't want to work at Wal-mart! I am so stressed out, I am literally home sick today... my boss actually makes me sick! How can I make this stop and keep my job and most importantly, STOP THE ABUSE!!! I am considering an attorney, as there is simply NO justification for this kind of behavior. Thanks for allowing me to vent my frustration!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      I partially agree and partially disagree. Professional detachment can be selective. One can decide to accept valuable criticism and reject meaningless insults. One can decide not to react to anger, but to enjoy excelling at one's job. One can choose to enjoy personal success and ignore negative aspects. And in being selectively detached, one can actually be better at what they do because one is not wasting time being sad or angry.

      However, using the professional persona does require strength of will and perseverance. Choosing takes effort, and enforcing choice takes more effort. If one's job is sufficiently unpleasant because of needless abuse, it becomes a question of, "is this worth it?"

      Thank you for your thoughtful and challenging comment.

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      Red-Indian 3 years ago

      The article is of great help who clearly stick to contracts and has great capability to detach the emotional self. But there are some people who do their jobs as service to a certain market just for improving the situation of a market for a budget-feasible salary. Such people need to excel and add the emotional self to provide extra finesse to their service and get a value added product. Such detachment may be detrimental for a good service and will reduce an employee doing the job for the sake of doing the job. But yes, trying this strategy out is not bad idea at all and check if this is acceptable and improve the situation. Suggestions in the article are definitely not for weak hearted or pessimists.

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      Tom Rubenoff 3 years ago from United States

      It is bizarre how things work out sometimes. Dick is clearly psychotic. Be sure to communicate with him by email as often as possible. Hopefully he'll put some of his pointless aggression in writing so that you can document it. You should document it anyway - times, dates, circumstances - so that you can let upper management know about this dirt bag in a coherent fashion on your way out. Thank goodness you can see the end of it. So many are trapped for years with idiots like this. Best of luck, I.T.

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      IlluminationTheory 3 years ago

      Recently I started working at a major retailer in a temp position, I'm only in my teens but I've had previous work experience. Well one of the assistant managers I was friends with was making a joke while we were having a discussion, the few of us there laughed as it was a hilarious twist on the situation we were talking about.

      Dick turned to me and said 'you better shut your f***ing face chuckles or I'll knock you out' now I'm not new to cruel bosses at all, but that was completely uncalled for. Dick already shouted at me before on my second day when asking about something. He has moments of being completely level headed and nice, and then starts shouting at everyone. Dick also insults multiple employees behind their back in the shop, I've walked in to his offices to discuss something before to find him insulting people currently working with another manager.

      His initial interview made him look incredibly awful as his attempts at jokes came across as him being incredibly rude. I don't want to leave this job as I really enjoy working and I get on really well with my coworkers and the other managers, but I also dislike Dick. Plus it's only temporary and I'm on a 90 day contract. I guess I just feel bad because I was offered another job at the same day where I got on really well with the manager and this was a job where I never really expected to hear anything back from.

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you, NiceHR, for sharing your perspective and adding dimension to this article. I guess if Cindy complains about Doug, she would sure complain about me, too.

      So much is contained in one's job - self esteem, identity, sustenance, security - that it tends to be a crucible for the self. But I don't think it has to be that way. I think we can take a step back from the drama of the job and simply do the job without looking for things like external validation or perfection in our coworkers.

      If we learn that the abuse does not define the abused, but only the abuser, we see that the abusive voice is not any kind of threat - it is only the animal sound of an ego enunciating its own pain. At that point, perhaps we can put our anger aside and have compassion instead.

      Thanks again.

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      NiceHR 4 years ago

      I'm just a nice an HR person trying to keep everyone employed who wishes to be, and to encourage everyone to play nice. Since it's a small company, the owners are right above me on the chart and the worst thing I can say about them is that they are not trained well in everything. Sometimes they get really frustrated and raise their voices and the Sensitive People get scared. Sometimes one of the partners swears and scares his staff. I wish he would come into my office and swear, and I would tell him what a Dick he is being. But he just got promoted, he is scared too. The economy being what it is, we are all scared, we only have time to meet the deadlines. We don't have time to take HR classes, get the SHRM certification, take the time to figure out if Cindy is correct about Dick abusing her or if she is Whiny Little Shirker. Well, Cindy complains when people fail to wipe the water drops off the counter and it got on her skirt, and she complained that Doug farts at his desk, all before she complained that Dick was verbally abusing her.

      Anyway, I am glad people are still commenting on this great post even 4 years after you wrote it.

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Good for you! If enough people walked out, maybe your bad ex-boss would start to get the message.

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      I am a somebody 4 years ago

      Watching people get berratted day after day I sort of wonder what's wrong with me it took so long for me to quit until the verbal and sexual talk and screaming fits directed at me during a one time "group" meeting just added up that I said to myself that I had more self worth than that of all who stood there listening!

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Thank you for noticing that this article is not about politics. To me and I think most of America, the most valuable attribute of both Dick and Al are that they make great cartoon characters.

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      Jet 4 years ago

      I happen to know a military guy who worked for both Gore and Cheney. He said that Gore was two-faced and vindictive and treated the staff like servants. Nonetheless, they wanted Gore to get elected because they were afraid they would be dismissed if Bush won. When Bush did win, they weren't dismissed like their predecessors were, so he got to work for Cheney, who he said was the most professional and respectful boss he had ever had. Don't believe the Democrat smears on Cheney!

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      Why thank you. A blog is a harsh mistress - or is that Mars? This actually reminds me of a sci-fi short story in which a human plays a board game with an evil robot to buy time. The evil robot is able to manipulate the human's thoughts - through flattery and other means - so the human has his pet monkey play on his behalf. Fascinating story, really...

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      Stellar Phoenix 4 years ago

      This blog is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader entertained. Between your wit and your awesome content, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost..lol.) Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool! Stellar Phoenix Review

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      There was a vice presidential debate between John Edwards and Dick Cheney in which Cheney was compared to Darth Vader. But Edwards certainly proved to be no Jedi, eh?

      Thank you, Peppermint. I sometimes lose sight of the fact that I wrote this article as a humorous article as well as one intended to be helpful because it has attracted so many people who have real problems with their employers. I was perhaps naïve about the pervasiveness of abuse on the job. The commentary continues to be a learning experience for me.

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      PeppermintPaddy 4 years ago from The vast expanse of creative space (my brain)

      He was born for totalitarian dictatorship, that one. Even has his name in it. Funny article fyi.

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      PeppermintPaddy 4 years ago from The vast expanse of creative space (my brain)

      Didn't Bush joke that Darth Vader was Cheney's favorite character in Star

      Wars?

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image
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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      I think you're right, Peppermint! Darth Vader would get second billing next to good ol' Dick.

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      PeppermintPaddy 4 years ago from The vast expanse of creative space (my brain)

      Lol, Dick Cheney will always be the poster boy for mean. Kind of like the Scrooge is the poster boy for thriftiness.

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      Tom Rubenoff 4 years ago from United States

      People treat others badly mostly because of their own emptiness. I would say that your manager and your boss treat your friend badly because their own emptiness is so painful they can only derive pleasure by inflicting pain on those they perceive as being at their mercy. Your friend, however, spoke exceedingly well - better than your boss could have under the same circumstances, I'll bet.

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      dukes momma 4 years ago

      The boss hid the paycheck of my friend and told him he could not clock in until he found it. The manager stated that my friend was stupid! My friend clearly replied, 'NOBODY HERE is stupid." I thought it was a brave and intelligent reply. Later that evening as we spoke about our days, he looked so hurt & he felt like crying, he asked me, "why do they treat me like that?" I didn't have an answer for him however inside I was thinking to myself that those bastards!

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      At least you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, Melissa. I wish you the best as you move on into your future.

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      Melissa 5 years ago

      Thanks Tom I'm still there, I'll be working to pay for my course, once I'm done see ya later. It's such a shame I've had such great bosses in the past this is my first experience of a horrible boss and 4 yrs is to long should of got out sooner, my goal is to finish my course within 6 months and then hopefully the doors will open for better things, best wishes to everyone.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Exteacher. I can imagine that bad boss issues are made all the worse when the business is ostensibly to care for children! Your comment brings up a very important point: control. Most bosses feel they must control the employees, but they either feel unworthy when they exert control or are fearful that their control will be ineffective. Feelings of unworthiness and fear are strong negative influences that bring out the worst in people. The good boss enables and supports excellence in their employees and doesn't sweat the small stuff, but also, as with the son in your story, doesn't ignore the big stuff. There is a way to give a reprimand that is respectful and honest. And in a business that serves children, an employee that endangers the children must be terminated. To not do so for family reasons is certainly unacceptable.

      I am happy you have found a better place.

      And you, too, Melissa. I wish you a bright and happy future now that you have moved on.

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      Melissa 5 years ago

      Thanks Tom great advice, iam looking into doing a course in community service in my spare time to remove myself from this living nightmare.

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      exteacher 5 years ago

      Great article, that is what you have to do, try to be a character. I also agree with some others though who said it's hard not to let it eat at you on the inside. I worked at a daycare center and I loved the work and loved those kids so much. When you're responsible for caring about a child's development, it is so hard to remain emotionally distant from your job! I put so much of myself into doing the best thing for the kids but my boss usually did not agree with me. She was harsh with them and would constantly criticize me, her lead teacher, even though I was pretty great at the job and well informed, and unlike her, I could remember to be patient in times when she would lose her cool with the kids. She was threatened when i had good interactions with the kids in ways she could not, and did not have the patience for. I would make close relationships with kids who did not even like her and she would say anything to make me feel stupid, like i didn't know what i was doing and she would try to convince me that i was actually doing the wrong things for the kids. When i was new there i would attempt to listen and change but i soon realized that she was a very self-centeed, yet self-conscious woman who controled her whole family and all the kids and i was clearly stepping on her toes by being competent at the job. She needed to feel like the best at everything. She would tell me and the other teacher what to do differently, but then turn around and forget everything she said and behave terribly in front if the kids. She would also fight loudly with her husband when he was home, in front of the kids, and allowed her son, who put the kids in danger and behaved inappropriately with the kids often, remain employed. He even caused multiple families to leave the program by putting then in danger and in multiple cases, giving the kids foods they were allergic to. A classic case of a boss allowing their idiot offspring to be employed when they don't deserve it, and don't even know the job. I remained at the job for almost 2 years, but when it became clear that I couldn't do anything to make it better for the kids even after repeated attempts to talk to the boss about what I thought needed to change in regards to treatment of the children, as well as treatment of myself, I decided to just move on. I'm afraid to take any further action against the center because I know the woman so well and I know she would do anything in her power to try and Sue me. Overall, I like who I am a lot better now. I am not miserable every day like I was when I worked there, my fiancée enjoys being around me much more, and I've been able to concentrate on things I didn't have the energy for while working there, like going to the doctor, taking care of myself, cooking and eating well, etc. I am now pursuing self-employment by teaching the flute, which I actually went to school for anyway. Great article, thanks. It's nice to know other people went through similar things.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I know how a boss who doesn't treat me well can dominate my thoughts. When I let this happen I find it makes me feel anxious. If I dwell on this unpleasant person I must deal with to make my living, the person begins to dominate my thoughts, making life stressful to the point of being a living hell. Any doctor will tell you that stress will kill you.

      I have had this experience, but I have found out some things that help me negotiate the stress with less damage. First, I detach my ego from what I may think my boss thinks about me. Second, I realize that I will never really truly know what anyone thinks ever, because no one's thoughts are really comprehensible to anyone else. Therefore I know it is stupid to worry about what anyone thinks, especially the boss. Third, I realize that I give the all the power they have over me and I can take it all away anytime I want by walking out of the job and never looking back. Fourth, until such time as I can shake the dust off my feet and leave the job, I will work hard to excel at my job and please myself with the performance of my work. That way, when I go, I will go proudly.

      These things are hard to do when your boss is saying things that make you angry and using the power you gave her to hide behind. Nevertheless, she is not suffering because you are stressed out, you are! It is up to you to figure out how to ease your stress while you put up with their BS so that it doesn't affect your health.

      Good luck. I wish you the best.

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      Melissa 5 years ago

      Hi everyone, I hate my job soooo much, I hate getting up in the morning cause I know I have to go to work I physically feel sick just thinking about it my boss I s the biggest meanest cow that ever walked the earth I really think she's satans wife lol se yells,swears,cuts back hours if she doesn't like you that week, bags all my work mates behind their backs sits in the office on her fat ass talks and gossips to other managers about staff, I've been so sick in and out of hospital and I've been back at work for a couple of weeks she's giving me hell about my illness staff aren't always showing up so she throws comments in like all I need now is for you to be sick again, it's out of my control sometimes I wake up and cant walk who does she think iam a miracle worker, over the 4yrs I've been there I would have had 2sick days off for the year maybe not even always on time never late and she gives me attitude I've had about all I can take, I've been looking for jobs even courses to do after work to get out, feel like pulling my hair out or smashing her in the head seriously, she wonders why she is single HELLO your a bitch love no one at work likes her,

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Careforyou, my heart goes out to you. You had a boss who was unworthy of you. Your boss protected his friend at the expense of another employee, even though his friend was clearly wrong. He is not only a bad boss, but a bad friend!

      A "Rate Your Boss" site sounds like a good idea. It would give people a place to vent. What many employers don't seem to understand is how trapped the employee feels when they are abused at the place where they make their 'living.'

      I congratulate you on your ingenuity, getting the friend to actually abuse you on camera! Next time, though, have a friend film it. Then you have evidence that maybe you could take to an attorney. You still might be able to, if the attorney could legally get the tape away from your employer. Clearly, your employer has violated your civil rights if you live in the United States. It might be worth your time to see if you can get a free consultation. I'll bet you can.

      I wish you good luck on your journey. You have a good heart and a will to work. Any employer would be lucky to have you.

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      careforyou 5 years ago

      my heart goes out to everyone who has lost a job or two dealing with unfair bosses who seem to think they own you, because you work for them! and what's sad to say is that most of the jobs are protected by state laws such as a right to work state( which if they don't like you because you complain about how unfair you are getting treated by the yelling and name calling they can fire you and without regards to what this has done to you and your family, when all you wanted was the harrassment to stop!) second ( look how bad this looks on your resume', that after dealing with a boss who calls you names and makes your job hard to deal with, how do you explain to your interview that you had to leave because of the emotional abuse, i had a coworker who is best friends with my boss i had multiple times when i had to go to my boss and let him know that he's friend and other coworkers who were yelling at me and other coworkers because of our slow learning disability and the whole time my boss would laugh at me and say it wasn't true, the last time that this friend of my boss came yeliing at me i keep walking away in wich he followed me everywhere, then i say a camera and i stood underneith the camera and while he was yelling at me i had ask him repeatdly to leave me alone. my last attempt was i ask my boss to watch the video of his friend hassrassing me yelling and cursing at me, and my boss said i'm not going to waste my time and demanded i apologized for wasting his and he's friends time! all i could do was stop fighting the tears and leave! i wish there is a site to where you can rate the boss or work enviroment to prevent working with people who have no regards for people getting hassrass.

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      princesswithapen 5 years ago

      "After you leave and things get really, really quiet around Dick's shop, maybe he'll have time to reflect that he should not have been, well, such a Dick."

      Tom, that's a splendid way to finish an insightful post on a terrific high. The real life situation that you weaved together with the topic of the hub will encourage budding employees to work hard in their current jobs and pave the way for their very own start-up. Nicely done!

      Princesswithapen

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      The EEOC enforces federal laws that protect American citizens at American companies in America and overseas. You can contact the EEOC online, by telephone, by mail or in person. If one contacts the EEOC, their information remains confidential until such time as they file charges against the employer. At that time, in compliance with the defendant's right to confront their accuser, the person who filed the charge of discrimination is made known to the employer.

      You can read more here: http://www.eeoc.gov/index.cfm

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      denise44 5 years ago

      Excellent article, Tom - so, how does one go about reporting an abusive employer to the EOCC...and can it be anonymous?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Semore, your story is a testament to the negative impact an abusive workplace environment can have. Those who are free to leave such an environment should. Those who are not free must try to find a way to try to deal with it. That is the brutal truth. Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I wish you peace, strength, safety and ease in your life.

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      Semore 5 years ago

      I have the maniac boss. I have tried the actions you proposed ( similar ) to no avail. I have left and taken consulting jobs but eventually end up returning to the only game in town. In the beginning, there ranting, cursing, and I apparently frustrated him so much he needed to throw a chair my way. He goes out of his way to cause chaos. He curses, demeans, befriends for info, stabs them in back, etc. he is a raging alcoholic and the work environment is that of an alcoholic home. The one time I went to HR, he sowed up at front demanding to know if I was there. 12 years later, he is still employed but has HR on his back due to numerous complaints. Will not allow problem resolution and demeans employee efforts. He's grossly sexual, politically provocative... name it and he does it. 3rd time I resigned FT but stayed on as a PRN worker which allows me to avoid him, but caused me to lose bennifets and income. Has to be done. All the cognitive therapy in the world can't fix the "broke" there. People don't go to work to purposefully do a bad job. ( which I have never done). One doesn't spend 40 hours a week being humiliated without pretty severe problems. I am simply put, a different person. On multiple meds, including antidepressant. The hopelessness that goes along with this type work environment is devastating to the person who loves to do the work and do it well. He has mellowed with the rages ( had no choice, but to do them in private for most part). He is very sick, work is sick and I too am sick. I think the latter being demonstrated by my returns and continuing to work there. I will say, however , that I never gave him the keys to drive me crazy. I am the typical abused female. Typical outcome. There are others, However, I am one who really gave up my career in hospital quality improvement and risk management due to low self esteem that developed over the years. The emotional pain of constant verbal abuse and never being able to please the boss or allowed to do what you know because of micro-management ( he wanted to do my job), eventually caused me to devolve, quit believing in myself, and to create opportunities to work independently. It's lonely and not satisfying but I don't want to relocate for many reasons. I appreciated your thoughts and felt validated at least in all my efforts to handle the stress and degradation. I even spoke to an atty. re options regarding sexually inappropriate behavior abd the local " good 'ole boy" system was tight as ever. He basically responded with " so your boss grabbed his _____ and shook it at you..." No big deal, though many other incidents were discussed. just needed to vent. Was young then and now I'm old and tired. Little desire to return to FT work anyway. Thanks again

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I find it is always best to take what bosses say at face value and not to inject my fears or conjecture into it. "Who told you to do this?" is a simple question with a simple answer. If there is politics between the bosses involved, it is none of my business. I simply serve each as best I can, without judgment, if possible. If I get directions from one boss that conflict with the other boss's directions, then I would question both of them until I know exactly what my job is. Most bosses are happy to respond to questions from workers about how to do their job. It makes them feel important.

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      Cheryl 5 years ago

      During my notice period from my current organization there seems to be lots of transition and talks going on with my remote boss and local boss.

      I have shared some FYI information with my remote manager however seems like the wild fire spread rapidly and I was question by my local boss as to who have told me to do so. Here I am wondering now whom to believe and what to say. Anyways I am leaving so I'm thinking that someone is trying to play safe to save their ass. Please advise.

      Thanks Cheryl Mcguire

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I think a counselor is the best way to go. They are professionals and are trained in ways to help you. If you don't like the counselor you had, find another one. Eventually you will find one who can help you. May you also find safety and happiness.

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      Needsomeadvice 5 years ago

      Thank you Tom. I think I will see how I feel after the 2 weeks and make my decision then. I've already set up a job interview in a few days so we'll see what comes of that.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      In life in general I recommend taking the high road. Just because your boss is unprofessional does not mean you should be, too. There are, however, times when it is appropriate to simply walk out on a job - for example, if your boss threatens or otherwise endangers you.

      After your two weeks off, you may have a new perspective. You may come back and give them your notice immediately, or you may decide to wait and keep the job until you find another. But in either case you will have decided after due consideration instead of on the basis of feelings that may be temporary. Good luck!

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      Needsomeadvice 5 years ago

      Hi everyone. I'm 25 yo and I work at a company PT...my supervisors have no clue what they're doing since they just took over the business. They are rude (speaking in a different language among the coworkers), disorganized, don't give paychecks on time, and don't know how to run a business. I got so tired of their BS I told them a few days ago I was going away for 2 weeks and they said it was alright. Well, just yesterday my boss makes a comment (in a sweet, yet insincere, bitchy way) that I lack common sense. It didn't occur to me that that's what she meant until I left the office.

      All of this tension has been building up and I don't care what happens anymore - I want out. These people are unprofessional and disorganized and I want no part of it. But I don't know what to do - I already said that I will be away for 2 weeks...how do I tell them I don't want to be there anymore?? I need a job to hold me over...I don't know if I should stick it out for a little when I get back or if I should use the 2 week "vacation" as a way to leave completely. What do you guys think?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      We spend so much time at work - life can be truly hell if our work makes us miserable. Here are a couple of strategies for coping. First, try not to think of work outside of work. Try not to think of it until you actually enter your workplace. While you are there, in your spare moments, think of the things you love to do, and smile. When your boss says something mean, smile and repeat the exact words back to them. "You're saying I'm stupid, Mr. X?" Or, "Excuse me, Ms. X, how should I do things differently? I want to improve." This may help change their attitude.

      A certain amount of this can be useful for personal growth. A certain amount of this can be too much. In the end you will have to decide how important it is to remain at the job if it continues to be unpleasant. You're young, so you are full of potential.

      It wouldn't hurt to quietly start looking for another job, too. Don't tell anyone, just see what's out there. It's always good to have options.

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      serah 5 years ago

      I work in an environment that really brings me down i have never been so unhappy.Every time i tell my parents how I feel they tell me that i am just being ungateful.My boss says the most mean things and the thought of waking up really gets me down.I am only 21 but im going through such problems.Please give me advice on how to deal with this situation

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I feel sorry for your boss. From your description it seems she has let her job totally take over her life. That is a sad thing, but it explains much of her behavior.

      There is a life span to a job. Even if conditions are ideal (kind of the opposite of what you have) they wear out after a while. It's often good to make a change after ten years in the same job.

      I wish you the best of luck and a bright, happy future.

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      End of My Rope 5 years ago

      I don't even know where to begin. First of all, let me say that I am someone (I am 40 and female, BTW) who takes responsibility for my own "stuff" and I know that I will carry my baggage to my next job (which I am seeking after 10 years at my current one). So, I am not JUST sitting here whining about someone else. I've made mistakes and done stupid things. That said...I can honestly tell you that the woman I work for absolutely has mental problems that she needs help with...and she has admitted it! She recently told me she wanted to see a therapist, and I applauded her for that. She fucking needs it. Anyway, she is a VERY dangerous type of boss (wolf in sheep's clothing) and here is why: At least someone who puts it all out there REALLY puts it all out there. Those of you who have someone ACTUALLY screaming and cussing at you...I consider you luckier than me. It's all put right out there, and I bet you can scream and cuss back with little repurcussion.

      What I am living with is passive agression and hypocrisy the likes of which you have NEVER seen. I promise. Nasty, blunt, sarcastic emails followed by generous gifts at birthdays and for major accomplishments (her way of feeling less guilty about how insane she is). We are talking about a woman who castigates people during staff meetings (and after board meetings) FOR THEIR FUCKING FACIAL EXPRESSIONS! I cannot even explain how odd it is. Then - and I watched her at a recent board meeting - she TOTALLY lacks the "poker face" she frowned and grimaced; I cannot live with that kind of blatant, shameless hyposcrisy anymore. And really? Facial expressions? Have we nothing more important to deal with? She is also - and this kind is always fun - one of those martyrs who puts in long, looooooong hours (sending emails to people late at night so they know she was there)but won't delegate anything to anyone. This woman OBVIOUSLY wants little to do with her FAMILY waiting at home for her. That is HER problem to explore, but the rest of us have to pay with backhanded passive aggressive comments about our own hours or whatever. It's just not to be believed.

      Now even worse is this: It's impossible to TOTALLY HATE her, per se. She is a smart person with a good sense of humor. If she wasn't such a psychopath she'd be a great mentor, and still has been on some things. But like I said, she is a hypocrite, a control freak, very unfair (she found a way to cheat me out of some of my bonus; I promise)and just an absolute mess. I don't expect my next boss, or any boss, to be perfect but I need one that is better for me. I have stayed ten years because for most of them, the bad things were less than the good. That's starting to turn around,and I am ready to leave. I am sad a lot of the time (and don't want my little boy seeing me that way), ALWAYS afraid this nut is gong to fire me (and by the way, SHE has no boss with any real clue what she is. Her boss is an offsite board of directors...think they know what is going on? No! Of course not. The money comes in and that is all they care about...and this is a nonprofit!). I've also gained a lot of weight over the years. I truly believe leaving will make things better for me and my family. Wish me luck.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Of course raising the voice to the level of screaming is completely unprofessional and is also stupid. Workers do not work better when bosses scream at them. Of course they don't. If I was working at a job and my boss screamed at me more than once, I would really doubt if my boss was smart enough to actually run a business. That alone would make me want to quit and find another job.

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      kulit 5 years ago

      my boss always scream not only me also with my co workers sometime i feel nervous to them i almost wanted to sue them they are persian iranian people with bad mouth and attitude

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Careful. If it is traced back to you somehow you might be looking at an unplanned change in your life. Thank you for the comment! :)

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      marriedwithdebt 5 years ago from Illinois

      I have a suggestion for the revenge section. Google "annoy a tron" from ThinkGeek, order it, then hide in his office. Almost guaranteed insanity will result from this. Make sure you tell no one. He will tear his office apart while you smile to yourself in satisfaction. I have a passive/aggressive boss and I think that is gonna be his new Xmas present

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      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      This is a very touchy subject. I had a boss just like you are describing. I started taking notes and asking everyone that heard him downgrade me if I could use them as a witness. I was in luck because no one else liked him so they sided with me, when I went to the higher authorities..I wish I would have read your column way back then.. this is an excellent article. thank you for writing it.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Yet they are still calling you. I would call them back and find out why.

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      Stan 5 years ago

      Thanks for the reply. My superior even admit he's a bad teacher. He even told me that before he started to use foul language. Even many times I told him that I'm trying my best to my best, and yet at times I tend to do mistakes. Because I can't work properly when he keeps rushing me to do the work faster. As a result, it turns out I'm clumsy. He said I should do work faster, but I just can't. I've tried my best and slow is my speed. So, that's why for his own good, better not to slow him down, it's better for me to leave.

      Besides, I did leave a resignation letter. Mentioning that travelling to work is a hassle, as I need to get up two hours before work hour and reach home two hours after work. So, it's kind of tiring and been feeling lethargic over the weeks.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      If you have (or want) a future at your job, you should call your boss back and remind him (if he already knows) that you are hearing impaired and tell him how this affects your ability to do your job. Instead of apologizing, make a habit of assuring him that you are trying your best and that you are doing your best to improve.

      If you have left your job, you should tell him exactly why because that is the only hope there is that your boss may someday learn that his verbal abuse has consequences.

      If a boss calls you names or uses foul language, ask him what, specifically, he would like you to improve. Perhaps he is smart enough to realize his behavior is not productive.

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      Stan 5 years ago

      Yesterday (7th Dec 2011) I've dropped my uniforms and my locker key in front of my kitchen door, which I've arrived before the rest of the guys arrived. Then I just left the place quickly. Today (8th Dec 2011) my employer misscalled me as I'm not sure should I answer the call or call back. Like the article, he is verbally abusive. I kept saying "sorry" to him for doing and repeating the same mistakes. I admit I got hearing problems, as I'm hearing impaired. But I respect him as my superior as I'm willing to learn and yet he kept telling me that he's tired of listening to my "sorry". Even he kept telling me to talk faster to him. Not everyone can talk fast like him. U can't expect your subordinates to be like you when they can't. It takes time for them to on par with the superior. I need help. Should I call back my superior or just ignore the call?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Thanks, I hope it helps :) Cheney is really the quintessential Dick, I think.

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      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      I love how you used Cheney as the dick. Hehehe. My dog has a nickname: "Dick" and then after a minute I always have to add "Cheney". He just wags his tail. In any case, this information is great. I have a boss right now that I'm a little "afraid of". I'll remember this article. :)

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Ah, yes, the famous Cheney sneer!

      I think there is a basic problem with work as we know it. Managers should facilitate performance and encourage employees to excel, but instead they seem to concentrate more on consolidating and maintaining power. Much like our political system. Thanks, JT

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      JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Tom,

      I guess I just accept intolerable work places but you presented the article in such a fresh and appealing format. It made me smile a bit. Sorry if that was not your intention but Dick Cheney does seem like he would be awful to work for.

      All My Best,

      JT

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I think you are very fortunate, Missmjai, because you love what you do at your job. I think maybe if you try to concentrate as much as you can on how much you love what you do, the comments of your boss may not matter as much. However, if your boss makes personal comments, you might ask what that has to do with the job. You might say that you are interested in doing the best you can, because you love your job, and that you hope your boss will make comments that will help you excel at it.

      I wish you good luck, Missmjai

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      Missmjai 5 years ago

      It's great reading other people's experiences, my boss made me CRY today for the first time since I started (I have been there 10 months) I have had many servings before but this time it was a more personal bashing, I just felt like yelling take your job and stick it (way more obscene, but not going to on here) I just love what I do and don't want to leave!

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Emily, there are some bosses that are just intolerable. If you are losing weight because of job stress because of your boss, this must stop. Clearly you need, one way or another, to stop being his victim.

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      Emily Emo 5 years ago

      My Boss fired me once, asked me back. He gave me the okay to go to a wedding in NYC but the same day said if I go I am fired. He tells me daily, ' I am fucked in the head ' ...etc. He can't keep his story straight anymore. He tells me my co-workers all tell him to fire me. I am 23 and I lost over 20 pounds since starting to work here. I pay for all my own things- so I cannot be jobless. He is VERY much of a BS'er so if I go to labor board- he will come up with some very defensive things which will not be true. He has made me into a person who is unhappy and scared to come into work. I work hourly. He does not pay over time. He does not give me any type of positive feedback--- and never once paid me for the 5 miles / day of gas I use running errands.

      I do not know what to do. I am loosing my mind.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Such behavior is bizarre and unproductive. It does not cause him to make more money. It is a way for him to make his sad life look better by making others' lives less happy. Eight year olds behave like this.

      How does your manager handle it? Clearly your manager has the most at stake. If your manager has a method that works, emulate it. Do what your manager does to get by.

      If you need to flirt and build up the ego of the owner to get by at your job, you need to decide if this is too injurious to your personal dignity, or if the money you are making is worth the humiliation. It is a hard decision, but only you can make it.

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      AngelinaTorrey 5 years ago

      oh no its not just towards me.its to everyone especially my manager. i mean granted i work at an adult novelty store, but he yells about everything! if i dont flirt and bow down to his feet i am nothing to him. he comes in sometimes plastered and will yell at us for sales being down.something we cannot help.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Angelina, I guess it all depends on how much you have to deal with or listen to the owner. If he's there every day, all the time, then you have a pretty miserable job. If he's not there so much, maybe you can just pretend to take him seriously while he's there and then laugh it off (inwardly) when he's gone.

      You might try making an appointment with him to see him privately in a neutral space, a coffee shop, and just tell him how his behavior makes you feel. It might work, but then again it might not.

      In the end you must decide what is endurable and what is simply intolerable.

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      AngelinaTorrey 5 years ago

      I work at an adult novelty store and my manager is a sweetheart. but the owner on the other habd is a complete and total dick.he yells and cuses at us all the time. and he sexually haraases some of my fellow employees.we just hired a new girl, and she is using her body to get promoted and its working. shes as ditsy as they come. and a pathalogical liar. no one likes her.except him.because she is the only one that flirts with him. he calls us f*****g idiots ,stupid, and makes us feel like we are as small as an ant. what can we do?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      That is so fantastic. Thanks so much for letting me know, Justin.

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      justin 5 years ago

      Thanks tom, my boss actually texted me the other day and we had a 3 hour convo aout his behavior I became stern with him him te he qickly relized I. Wa a dumb nor slow kid and has since been a better guy things are looking up

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      That is the bottom line. Thank you, Sue!

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      Sue1116 5 years ago

      Oh, absolutely right - NO ONE deserves to be abused, and should never stay in a situation of abuse, if there is any way out.

      I have the ability to walk out at any time, and choose not to, because of the complexities of the relationship, and because I know him well enough to know that he truly does not see what he does - and I have hope that he could and will, if it is brought to him with honesty and caring. But I would never encourage anyone to try to "tough it out" in a situation of abusive behavior or words, if there is an alternative - everyone deserves respect.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      We are not in disagreement, Shajan. If for any reason a person's job deprives them of their peace, they should leave that job. Nevertheless, if for some reason they are forced to stay - they are putting two of their children though college, for example - they may find my article helpful. But we agree - if you have an abusive boss and you have the option to quit and find another job, by all means, DO IT.

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      Shajan Tony Antony 5 years ago

      If continuose abuse or continues stress from a manager affect the health, the employee will become sick. every one work hard for money. money for mental peace. so i did not agree with Mr. toms article. if continus abuse from a manager, better to search another job

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Sounds like progress. Thank you, Sue, for adding so much to my article by sharing your experience. I think it is very good point to make that ethical behavior - common courtesy, for example - should be universal, including between employer and employee. Thanks again.

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      Sue1116 5 years ago

      For a person to see himself realistically, and to hear his own words, is essential. In my case, bringing reality to my boss has been very helpful....not a "cure-all" but a step in the right direction. I am lucky in that I am able to confront him with his own words and actions, and he has actually listened to me and thought about them. By his personality he will continue to slip, but his intentions are not bad ones. Perhaps it is a "part of the job" to help him be a better leader. I just have a strong sense of every person having a dignity that is deserved simply by being human, and there should be a mutual respect between people, including between bosses and employees. It's not naivity, though it may be a struggle to find that in most places. I am in a position where I can demand that we strive for this kind of mutual treatment. My issues with him are nowhere near resolved, but I have resolved that he can choose - I can do this job despite him, or with him. I have no intention of leaving.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Hi, Paul!

      I don't believe it is in any way illegal for Dick to call you dumb. It may be really bad management, and not too bright, but I don't think it is illegal. However, it might not hurt to mention to Dick that you don't think that calling you 'dumb' is at all helpful. As a manager, it is really Dick's job to help those under him excel at what they do. If his criticism is unhelpful, that is a definite flaw in his management skill set.

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      That is really a tough problem, Justin. But you know you are not slow or stupid, so his saying so is not really important to your self esteem. It's just disturbing on a surface level. Personally I would make sort of a B.S. apology, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I'll try not to do it again," and then just forget about it if the job and boss are otherwise okay. Sometimes you encounter a boss who just has a different way of communicating.

      On the other hand, if you really find his behavior disturbing, you should probably do some active listening with him. That is, when he says your stupid, you ask, "I'm stupid?" When he cusses, you say, "I'm $%^&*()(*&^%?" Not in any smart mouth way, but just like you are trying to understand him. It sounds kind of like he may not really even know what he is saying and it might do him some good to have it played back to him.

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      Paul Patterson 5 years ago

      I work under a Dick in a very small corporation. I have been at this new job for about 2 months now. This dick is highly critical, compulsive, and extremely rude at times. The other day he called my dumb... to my face... and in front of another employee. Let's call this employee Lenny. After Dick leaves the room to attend to something else in the office suite, Lenny looks me dead in the eye and tells me that Dick can't speak to me that way. Lenny goes on to tell me that Dick can be brought up on charges as well! Is this true?? On the other hand, Dick is leaving to head up another sister office in another state in a couple months and I won't have to deal with him all the time... Except when he randomly Skypes in to see how we are doing. I fucking hate Dick, but I feel if I take this to the next level, I may be putting my employment at risk.

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      Justin 5 years ago

      Hey tom, i work for a guy, who i really think is bipolar, one minute he is really cool, and says im doing a great job, but man if i make the smallest of mistakes like putting something in the wrong place in the garage he freaks out starts cussing and yelling, and calling me slow and stupid and im far from it what do I DO?!?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      That sounds like a physical threat. Obviously I don't know all of the circumstances, but if someone physically threatens you, usually you need the police.

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      rj 5 years ago

      My mom is elderly lady that works for a verbal abusive boss.Recently, he cornered her and threatened her that she better not call the state about their Illegal acts if business. What advice would you give her?

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      I am actually in kind of a similar situation. I work at a family business, so family members are treated differently than the rest of the employees. To a lesser extent this applies to family friends as well. But also, management has made it a policy to make individual deals with key employees.

      If I compared my deal with everybody else's deal, I'd be angry all the time. Anger is suffering, so I choose not to be angry. Therefore I ignore everyone else's conditions of employment and concentrate on my own.

      If I have to punch a clock but Charlie doesn't, good for Charlie. I have to punch a clock. If George only has to work 40 hours a week, but I have to work 45, good for George. I still have to work 45 hours.

      You see, the only thing that need concern me is my deal and whether I like it. If I don't like it, I can work someplace else. Everybody else's deal is irrelevant and really none of my business.

      As for the endangerment of the business and the customers, you are only responsible for making sure that you do not endanger the business or the customers. You are not responsible for management or other employees endangering the business or the customers. So relax. This is management's job. If they don't do it, you can' t do it for them.

      You might try diplomatically pointing out to management the possible downside of their behavior, but this is risky. Before doing so, I suggest weighing the possible benefit against the risk of getting fired.

      Bottom line: unequal treatment at work is only an issue if you make it one. Try to look at your situation objectively. If these favored employees did not exist, would the treatment you are receiving bother you? If so, than you should act. If not, then you should concentrate on meeting the standards they have set for you and forget about those who seem to be exempt from those standards. Thinking about how much better off they are than you will only bring you pain.

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      alice 5 years ago

      And what can I do if my boss just applies the rules to me and another co-worker but not to the rest of the team, actually she gets along with them pretty good and she covers for them whenever they feel like being late to work or won't show up without prior notice, the manager allows them to take longer breaks and have other benefits, but she's over our toes every step we make and yells at us if we even forget to take a bag of trash out and tries to write us up for things like that but won't write up the rest of the team for bigger mistakes that could endanger the business or the customers

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      Tom Rubenoff 5 years ago from United States

      Perhaps it is a sign of better times to come, perhaps not. One can only wait and see.

      We give many people the power to hurt us - by permitting them to have authority over us, by fearing or entertaining other negative emotions about them, by having expectations, and by caring about them. In all relationships there is the potential for abuse. Yet it is what we think the abuse says about us that hurts the most. I say that is something we can influence if not control because it is internal.

      Also it can be difficult to accept that we bring as much power to a one on one relationship as our partner in that relationship. Often, if we exercise our power - as you did when you had your boss really listen to his own words - we can change a situation for the better.

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      Sue1116 5 years ago

      It seems hopeful, in that he saw his own actions/words, which is unusual - but I have to see it as part of the back and forth cycle of emotions; typical of an abusive relationship, I think.

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      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      The fact that he would be led and was able to hear his own voice from another point of view is impressive. The fact that you were able to lead him to this place of revelation is amazing, actually. I think you both grew.

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      Sue1116 6 years ago

      Yes, the relationship is complex. And yes, the relationship is certainly outside that of boss/worker.

      I spoke to him a few days ago, pointing out a couple of things that he had said in the past that were hurtful....actually, I led to them; he remembered and quoted them himself, and seemed to realize how they sounded. He was very apologetic, and moved into the "care-taker" mode. How long it will last, I don't know. It may be something of a gift for me to be able to point out his wrongs and for him to listen - though I have learned to read him well enough to know when he will or will not hear what I am saying. It makes me feel a bit manipulative, but maybe it's for his good too.

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      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Sue, I know exactly where you are coming from. You have a complex relationship with your boss. Yet it is hard to define whether the relationship is outside that of boss/worker. The boss may see an attempt to equalize the relationship as a threat to his authority, and in his job, his authority is all he has.

      Yet perhaps you can pursue a more equal relationship without threatening a position he feels he must maintain to continue in his own professional persona.

      I have found that individuals will often respond if I be the way I want them to be. If I am smiling and happy, I will attract smiles and happiness, for example. They may not come right away, but if I continually give off an aura of friendliness and equanimity, I know that I will attract the same from those around me. Friendliness and equanimity will always come within the framework of the individual's self image.

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      Sue1116 6 years ago

      I have invested so much of myself in my work for so long, that it is difficult to make an emotional withdrawal from my work. As a boss, he has good characteristics and bad ones. He and I have had a very close friendship, where he mentored me through many personal difficulties, as well as mentoring me professionally – he has a lot of talent and skill (and he will tell you so, without you even having to ask!). However, I sometimes think I have “outgrown” him now, and simply don’t need that kind of “parent/child” relationship. I have tried seeking a more equal friendship, but this would take him out of a position of power – and he needs that. I sense a lot of resentment in him, and I wonder if he is seeking to return to that previous position of power, by attempting to push me back into my earlier position of need and dependency. The most effective means he has, since he knows so much about me, is to use verbal abuse, so that I can feel emotionally beaten and thus move back into a position of fear and dependency.

      One of the most difficult parts of this is the inconsistency. I have barely spoken to him in a week, and then only work-related necessary conversation. Today is his birthday and he has already emailed me asking me to lunch. I have refused three invitations to lunch in the past week; he knows I am hurt, so he switches from abusive to caring and concerned. There is a long pattern of this yo-yo behavior, but I have finally admitted (though long ago, recognized) that I cannot continue in this way.

      But I am stubborn. And I was here first. And hard as it is to emotionally withdraw from him and from the work that I love, I will do that before I will quit and let him win. Except I think he actually loses too, if I do that.

      Yes, I will look at I Ching material. There is much ego involved here.

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      Tom Rubenoff 6 years ago from United States

      Good for you! I wish you peace and every success!

      As you see by the comments, the "professional persona" is not a cure all, but I have always found it to take the sting out of unprofessional management behavior like abusive language.

      Whenever I am confronted by stress induced by management, I seek wisdom from sources like the I Ching and whatever the Universe is prepared to bring to me in terms of advice. The I Ching almost invariably prescribes looking inward to improve one's own outlook through clinging to values like innocence (striving to see the best in others) and equanimity (trying to meet others halfway) while avoiding the influence of the ego (pride, anger, sadness, fear).

      This ain't easy, but it can help.

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      Sue1116 6 years ago

      What a great topic to address! I have a verbally abusive boss, maybe even bipolar, and this article along with the comments, has helped me see that it is time for ACTION. I don't have to allow myself to be hurt by his put-downs and snide remarks, or his temper tantrums and hateful remarks, tone of voice and facial expressions. The "Professional Persona" is essential - and it may be that he will become more intolerable because I do not react to his taunts. That's okay; I can quit, though I do not want to. I figure I can outlast him - I have so far.