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Time to Take Action: When the Boss Is a Bully, or Worse

FlourishAnyway is an industrial/organizational psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

If you're tired of poor treatment by your boss and you're ready to do something about it, read this first.

If you're tired of poor treatment by your boss and you're ready to do something about it, read this first.

You have a boss who is a Tough Manager, Bully Boss, or Illegal Harasser. You've put up with the behavior for too long. You're tired of the treatment and ready to take action. Here are three important action items to consider.

Action Item 1: Correctly Categorize What You Are Facing

First, you need to be able to correctly label the treatment as bullying, illegal harassment, or simply bad management. To do so, take these steps:

Start a Written Inventory

Start a written inventory of what's already happened—significant verbal and written comments, as well as physical or nonverbal behaviors. Seeing it listed can help you clearly categorize what you are facing. The list can also help your organize your thoughts in advance of taking any significant action.

Documentation of your concerns is critical.  Even if you don't need it now, you may need the information later.

Documentation of your concerns is critical. Even if you don't need it now, you may need the information later.

Pay Attention to Apparent Motive

Note what factors seem to make his (or her) treatment of you better or worse. As you develop your list, pay attention to the boss's behaviors but also assess what seems to be the motive for his poor treatment of you.

For example, does he seem to have a personal vendetta? Is there an event that triggered a change in his approach towards you? Is he a first-time manager, facing a personal crisis himself, or does he seem to dislike a specific demographic group you represent (e.g., females, over 40, Jewish)?

Considering these very different motives can help you categorize what you are facing. Then, call the behavior what it is.

We've all met this character in the office. Every workplace has one. Maybe he's even your boss.

We've all met this character in the office. Every workplace has one. Maybe he's even your boss.

"The No Asshole Rule"

Look in the Mirror

If you think you have a tough manager or bully boss, it is important to look at yourself as well. Why? If you complain, your own performance history may be reviewed.

A target's performance often becomes an issue in HR investigations because it is so often raised as an explanation (or excuse) for managerial misbehavior. Therefore, as objectively as possible, try to accurately summarize your performance history.

Be Honest With Yourself

Have you been bringing your "A" game to work? Have you kept up with professional training? Do you understand the goals and expectations of your job? Do you have the resources you need to perform your job? Have you placed the boss on notice that his behavior is inappropriate and disrespectful?

A target's performance often becomes an issue in HR investigations because it is so often raised as an explanation (or excuse) for managerial misbehavior.

Know what you are facing—a tough boss, a bully, or an illegal harasser.

Know what you are facing—a tough boss, a bully, or an illegal harasser.

Get Multiple Perspectives Over Time

Consider whether you have a genuine performance issue that your boss is inelegantly trying to get you to change, or alternatively, whether you are the target of bullying or illegal harassment.

Pull out the last few years of performance reviews and reread the boss' comments. Compare his evaluative comments to your previous boss's written comments by relying on the actual documents, not just your memory. For example, do comments deteriorate from very glowing to extremely negative? Is there a legitimate reason for this?

Also examine information from other sources. These can include key emails, peer/customer/senior manager feedback you've received, awards, sales numbers and other "hard" data. Consider multiple perspectives over time.

HR is not your therapist.  Don't regard them this way.  Seek emotional support from trusted friends, family, or a counselor.

HR is not your therapist. Don't regard them this way. Seek emotional support from trusted friends, family, or a counselor.

Action Item 2: Seek Support and Corroboration

Even if you determine that you have a genuine performance issue that the boss is trying to address, being the recipient of persistent harsh treatment can be stressful. You'll need emotional support.

Tap a personal friend (outside of the workplace), a counselor, or other trusted individual to be your sounding board. Explore whether your workplace provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) as a benefit.

Go to HR for Policy Support But Not Emotional Support

Consult HR for specific policy, procedure, program or benefit questions but not emotional support. Unfortunately, HR is implicitly aligned with protecting the organization, not advocating for individual employees.

Moreover, depending on the information you share with them, HR may have an obligation to pass the information along to others in the company for investigation, regardless of your wishes. The same is true with other management officials.

Reading company policies is hardly fun, but it's important to know and understand the rules of the game.

Reading company policies is hardly fun, but it's important to know and understand the rules of the game.

Get to Know the Rules Yourself

Also examine relevant policies on your company's internal website to determine whether the boss's mistreatment can be tied to violations of specific company policies. Company websites are often a goldmine of compliance guidance that employees frequently overlook.

Based on your review of company policies, document the problem with your boss in a timeline fashion. Use information you collected in Step 1 as a starting point and log in detail each significant offensive behavior.

Document the date, time, location, who was present, and how you or others responded. Particularly note the reactions of other members of management who witnessed or have knowledge of the offensive conduct.

Gather copies of important documents, including copies of relevant company policies. Keep your log updated, and maintain the file at home rather than in the workplace.

You may not be the only one. It's very possible that others share your concerns.

You may not be the only one. It's very possible that others share your concerns.

Do Others Share Your Concerns?

Evaluate whether you are the boss' only target or whether there are others. If you are not alone, who are the others, and what happened to them? Document the names and relevant demographics (if known) of people he treats well and those he does not. Record details of how he treats these people differently. Are there possible trends?


  • Two employees resigned from the company unexpectedly within the last 18 months, citing his "management style" (provide names, demographics, and any details known).
  • When upset, he regularly throws items and yells profanity at both males and females (list specific examples and witnesses).
  • He regularly uses anti-female jokes and name-calling. He criticizes females in the office on their weight, appearance and attire (document specific details of incidents).
  • In the past three years, he has dated two females who work for him, and both have since left the company (provide names and any details).
Everyone has a limit. Do you really want to put up with bullying or illegal harassment?

Everyone has a limit. Do you really want to put up with bullying or illegal harassment?

Always remember you have options. You may not be able to control your boss' behavior, but you CAN control how you respond.

Action Item 3: Review Options and Act: Fight, Flight, or Freeze!

There are three strategies for dealing with a threat: fight, flight, or freeze. Always remember you have options. You may not be able to control your boss's behavior, but you CAN control how you respond.

The Option to "Fight"

The "fight" option can include a range of responses, from working through the issue to confronting the bully to registering a complaint. Some employees are able to successfully problem-solve their way through the conflict.

What will you do?  The decision can be difficult.

What will you do? The decision can be difficult.

Take the example of "Marie," an employee who realized that she had some genuine performance gaps that her tough manager did not have the experience to address, as he was new in his role.

Marie and her boss were able to do a "reset" when Marie acknowledged her skill deficit and the frustrated nature of their communications. She asked for his help, and they collaborated on training solutions that involved experienced co-workers. Together, they were able to fight the problem instead of each other. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Many employees daydream of direct confrontation, such as scolding the boss for his misbehavior. One employee actually did it, confronting her sexual harasser as he was retiring.

"Sue" phoned the executive at his office and verbally shamed him, explaining how she had previously held him in such high regard. She had long revered the business executive as a role model—until his illegal request for sexual favors showed disregard for her as a professional and as a woman.

Another example of direct confrontation is "Amy," who didn't tolerate being treated disrespectfully by a female manager in her office. The manager spoke to her brashly and shoved papers at Amy in a frustrated manner before retreating to her office in a huff. Amy followed the manager to her office and told her plainly that she would not tolerate unbusiness-like behavior. Startled, the manager apologized.

Reader Poll

Does your Bully Boss need a wake-up call? Bullies come in a variety of forms, and there are many ways to handle them.

Does your Bully Boss need a wake-up call? Bullies come in a variety of forms, and there are many ways to handle them.

Other employees opt for less direct "fight" methods. They attack the boss's reputation by sharing accounts of their negative experiences with peers in the organization. You may also file an internal complaint with your employer or a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other relevant government agency.

Note that if you choose to formally complain, the process can be lengthy. Information you have collected in your file will be helpful to you in reporting your complaint, should you decide to pursue this route. Depending on the basis for your complaint and the venue, strict time limits may be in play (i.e., often 180 to 300 days), so educate yourself.

The Option to Flee

Another class of options include "flight." A temporary escape from the problem can include taking a vacation or going on leave, although your troubles will be waiting for you when you return.

In the worst of circumstances, you can transfer to another position within the company or leave the organization altogether. This may be reasonable if you've tried other options and failed.

Maybe your boss is looked at as a superstar, someone beyond reproach. Maybe this isn't the only bully or harasser you have encountered at this company. In such cases, leaving may be a good option if you have sufficient job opportunities elsewhere.

Evaluate whether it is beneficial to hang on to a job that is creating this much tension. Consider finding an organization that values your skills and contributions and respects you as an employee and a person. Regardless of your choice, take charge of your own personal and career destiny.

If you do choose to leave, determine whether it will benefit you long-term to take a "parting shot" by sharing your reasons for leaving during your exit interview with HR. It is a common and cathartic choice. For example, on his way out of the organization, "Ron" made an appointment with the senior-most HR executive and detailed his superstar boss's bullying behavior, sparing no detail.

Although he knew that management was clearly supportive of the Bully Boss and her lieutenants, Ron provided enough incidents and witnesses to be deemed credible.

He was leaving anyway but exposed an executive bully with a long track record and no prior formal complaints against her. (Someone has to be first.) By doing so, Ron effectively tarnished his bully's pristine image and bravely paved the way for future targets' complaints.

You may not be able to control the boss' behavior, but you can control your response.

You may not be able to control the boss' behavior, but you can control your response.

The Option to Freeze

A third option for dealing with a threat is freezing, or simply doing nothing. It's like playing possum, hoping the problem will go away. Some employees may simply hope that the boss will eventually move on. Others attempt to feign apathy in an attempt to ignore offensive behavior—not allowing yelling, name calling, or humiliation, for example, to register a visible impact.

The intent is to deny the misbehaving boss the reward of provoking conflict or fear. Generally, however, this option simply buys time until the problem grows so bad you must choose fight or flight.

Reader Poll

When you are faced with a bully boss, you have a choice:  fight, flight, or freeze.

When you are faced with a bully boss, you have a choice: fight, flight, or freeze.

Become an Active Decision-Maker, Not a Target

If you're like many American employees, you spend anywhere from one-third to one-half of your waking hours at work. How and where do you want to spend this time? Regardless of whether you choose to fight, flee or freeze, acknowledge that you have the power to decide.

Each choice involves trade-offs, but becoming an active decision-maker rather than someone's target will put you in a position of power rather than defeat. Understand what is happening, and name the behavior as "bullying" or "illegal harassment," if that is indeed what it is.

Share your story with others at the time, place and method of your own choosing. Seek legal advice, medical attention, and a competent therapist, if needed.

By making a positive change, you can find a solution that supports your health and career rather than harming them further. Set yourself up to flourish by realizing that you are only "stuck" in a bad situation if that's what you choose.

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: My boss is my ex-husband, the business owner and his family is the remainder of the Board. There is no HR department or senior managers I can plead my case too. Apart from leave -- I'm trying to find new employment, but so far to no avail -- what can I do and keep my job? The family (Board) won't listen to me, they demonized me during the relationship, and are not interested in what I have to say.

Answer: Why would you want to continue to work with these people? You're divorced, and it's not a positive work situation, given that you're neck deep in family drama. They do not have your interests at heart.

Redouble your efforts to find another job. You may need to retool your resume and look at what you offer external employers. Think about consulting a professional resume and outplacement service for advice on how and where to go about job hunting in the digital age, and brush up on professional networking, your professional image, and interviewing skills. You might also consider a stress-based medical leave or a severance agreement in consultation with an attorney. Also consider going back to your divorce attorney to file for spousal support, if necessary. (Hey, your husband had this it coming.)

© 2013 FlourishAnyway


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 31, 2019:

Jet76 - Thank you for telling your wife's unfortunate story. Although I'm glad her situation is resolved, her serial harasser is still allowed to torment others. If facts are appropriate, several female and/or minority complainants may want to band together to consider a "pattern and practice" type of complaint that sets the groundwork for a class action complaint. That will really get their attention. After a while, too many complaints against the same person becomes problematic and the company often tires of that manager, especially if the cases go outside the company.

JET76 on December 30, 2019:

Years ago, my wife worked for a hospital and was moved under a supervisor who was known to be abusive. She was targeted for abuse by the boss and was denied a move. The abuse escalated and she filed a complaint, which then became turned into open season on my wife. It took three years and untold emotional suffering, but we prevailed. It likely cost the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars and damaged the careers of numerous managers when the solution was simple: move her away from the abusive supervisor.

What helped us was their frequent violation of their own procedures, their shoddy and contradictory documentation, the over the top allegations against my wife as the problem and one email that stated that she needed to be dealt with because she had utilized the system to resolve this. Several of their witnesses recanted during depositions, saying that they were told to say that my wife was the problem. Their defense fell apart and they settled. Still, it took those three years and the organization doing the wrong thing at every step of the process.

Currently, a close female coworker is encountering nearly the exact same issue. After thriving under another boss, she was transferred due to a reorg and was immediately subjected to verbal abuse, false allegations and a hostile and harassing environment. This includes physical intimidation through verbal comments. We found that he has done this to multiple female subordinates as well to include false allegations and getting one ejected from a program. A previous complaint was also filed recently. Upper management was notified, but several requests for my friend's relocation to another boss were denied and it appears that upper management will take a "well, he's just a tough boss" approach to this. It also appears that this boss targets ethnic minorities as well.

This boss seems ignorant of procedure and has even put some of his behavior in writing.

As a team, we are gearing up to take this to the next level, but we have no desire for a battle. A simple transfer to a non abusive boss for my friend will do. I am amazed at how hard upper management fights to do nothing or to do the wrong thing when faced with these issues.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 01, 2019:

Nick - I'm sorry for your loss. Your story is an example of how we must each prioritize health first. I do find it unusual how you call this person out by name but only offer your own first name and don't provide your wife's name at all. Write a letter to the members of the company's board of directors so you can at least properly express your anger. Again, I'm sorry for your loss. I hope you find peace.

Nick on November 01, 2019:

I recently lost my wife of over 30 years, she died of Ovarian cancer, but this cancer could have been prevented if she was NOT bullied by her boss Carey Osborne at MEDNAX. I recently found a confession letter that she left me describing how Carey bullied her to the point that she was petrified of taking any time off for vacation or medical checkups/procedures. It seems that Carey always gave my wife a hard time for any vacation, medical appointments for her or her elderly parents. MEDNAX is an awful Company to work for, totally incredible the lack of professionalism, human care, and empathy at MEDNAX. During her fight with cancer, she received a dismissal letter from MEDNAX after 20 years with the company with a registered letter. After 2 months from her death, she got almost 2 weeks pay of leftover sick time pay, but her boss would NOT let her take any time for medical needs!!! Stay away from MEDNAX.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 30, 2019:

Unknown - Your boss was used to running the store without anyone else around, and now she has you there. She resents it because it wasn't her idea and feels threatened by having someone else looking after her or maybe learning her job. It's not personal against you. She'd behave that way towards anyone in your position.

You have several general options:

1) complain to HR or her management about the way she is treating you which will likely only make her more resentful. You might have to do this if other options don't work for you.

2) attempt to discuss the situation with her rationally, telling her you didn't ask to be here and you realize she didn't ask to have you assigned to the store, but you want to make the best of the relationship. Request use of the refrigerator and eating in a more appropriate lunch area. Ask how you can create a more collaborative relationship.

3) take a "kill her with kindness" approach with smiles, greetings, taking interest in her life, etc. It's hard to dislike someone who is so sweet to you. Also let her know a little bit about yourself as a human being during your downtime.

Don't stay super late, and take your breaks. They're yours by law and they'll help you manage your stress level. Learn some Spanish so you know what they're saying. Do the best job you can. Don't refer to her as mentally ill ("mood" or "inconsistent" are better choices) or treat her as ancient because she is 50ish. Don't sink to her level when she treats you rudely, as with snapping at you verbally. Patience and persistence will win out here.

I hope this helps you.

Unknown on May 29, 2019:

My boss is really mean I feel like she’s bipolar and she dose not know how to work with others she’s around 50 something and is used to running the store by her self till the company told her she’s needs a driver who’s me every thing is hers I can’t even use the refrigerator to put my lunch in and she wants me to eat in the wear house where it’s hot and there’s a lot of dust and spiders I go in at 9 and get off at 4 but I always stay late sometimes till five or a bit after with only one lunch no breaks ever when Spanish speaking customers come in she makes me feel like she’s talking about me looking and laughing at me she’s constantly giving me attitude to the point where I’m stressed out about going in and working with her

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 28, 2019:

Anonymous - There comes a time when we each will have to work for someone younger than us, and it's difficult when that person is unskilled.

Anonymous on May 27, 2019:

My boss is younger than me and suffers an inferiority complex. She’s sensitive and cannot handle constructive criticism. There’s a lot of hypocracy in the way she communicates and doesn’t keep up her word when it comes to plans. Every day is a new experiment and is the employee become the piñata to her stick!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 25, 2018:

GlenCamp - I'm really sorry that happened to you. They are clearly enabling this manager. It sounds like retaliation for your making a complaint.

Unfortunately, bullying is not illegal in most jurisdictions. Illegal harassment, in contrast, is based on a legally protected factor such as sex, national origin, race, religion, color, disability, age, veteran's status, etc. (Check your state and local employment laws for specific protected factors that go beyond these federal protections. The information is available from your State Employment Commission or Job Service.) Ask yourself why the manager was bullying you and others. Was it based on his personal dislike or bad management practices (i.e., he was an "equal opportunity bully" which is not illegal) or instead was it based on one of the protected factors (e.g., only bullying Black or Latino employees)? Also consider checking whether your company is big enough to be covered by these laws (generally 50 employees).

As far as action to take, you may consider consulting with an attorney. You should absolutely consider filing for unemployment. Make them defend their employment decision before the State Employment Commission and pay you unemployment while you look for a job. See especially the first point in the following article:

I wish you the best in finding a workplace that better values your capabilities without all the unnecessary drama. Take care of yourself.

GlenCamp on February 25, 2018:

I was terminated from my job after I wrote an email to the Human resources dept. that there was a Senior superintendent verbally bullying and harassing myself and others at the worksite. I asked to be moved to another jobsite, instead when meeting with the Human Resources Dept. and Vice-President of the company, I was terminated and told I wasn't a good fit. Is this harassment at the work place?


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 03, 2017:

Sue - I recommend that you contact an attorney asap to pursue your legal options. In addition, since she is an elected official when she comes up for re-election or election to another post, you have quite a story to tell. If legal avenues are no longer available to you because of time limits, for example, you might also consider contacting a disability rights group that pertains to your illness(es) or even a local media outlet to tell your story. Even if you are not believed, someone must be the first to speak up and speak out. I wish the best for you.

Sue on November 03, 2017:

I was terminated by an elected governmental official because she did not like me. After she was elected she told me I would receive no pay increases, threatened me with pay cuts if I talked to certain co-workers, always told me I talked all the time and did not do any work. Since she terminated me she has 3 people doing half the work I was doing and the other 1/2 is not getting done. Also 4 people have quit since I was terminated because of the way she treats the employees. I was threatened when I began to seek other employment. Was always laughed at and told there was no one to complain to because she was a personal friend with county coordinator and commissiones and that an elected official could not be held accountable for anything. She had a co-worker going desk to desk to see if anyone would say anything negative about her and report back to them. When the co-worker couldn't get anyone to say anything she would make up something to stay in her good graces. She told her I called her a bitch the day she terminated me, which was not true. She didn't even ask me my side and would not give me a reason for termination. Unemployment office told me reason and talked to both of us and determined that the elected official was lying and I was approved for unemployment. I worked with her for 2 1/2 years under these conditions and was trying to make it for 2 more years to get full ss retirement benefits. Because of health reasons (Stage 4 kidney failure, diabetes and neuropathy) I can not find another job to work at for 2 years. She also stood and yelled to everyone one time that I should be home getting ready to be "hooked up to a machine" the rest of my life instead of working. I don't understand why you can't file civil action against someone like her. Sometimes harassment can be for other things besides age, sex, racial . . .

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 29, 2017:

BoydVantessa - Thanks for speaking your mind. That was a doozy.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 07, 2016:

Scooter10 - Don't relent. If she is truly this bad and has this long of a history of verbally and mentally abusing her employees, document your case more thoroughly and look for evidence of retaliation. If she's as bad as you say she is, then she will likely retaliate by giving people who have filed complaints against her poorer work assignments, demoting them, mistreating them even worse, reprimanding them, unfairly marking down their performance, etc. Keep up your own job performance, rule following, and work behavior so that you don't give her adequate reason to manage you more stringently. Do not get discouraged. A good HR person knows that where there's smoke there is fire. Don't be afraid to complain AGAIN if the situation merits it. Also, after you submit your case internally, you can take your case outside the organization to an external agency (e.g., EEOC/state human rights board, OFCCP for federal contractors, labor board depending on the issue, etc.) Good luck.

Scooter10 on November 05, 2016:

I filed a claim with the FEP dept in my company because my boss has a long history of verbally and mentally abusing her employees. I launched the investigation because her abuse started to impact my health as I was having reoccurring panic attacks. My complaint was the 2nd investigation launched against my manager within 6 months. In both investigations, my colleagues and I received the same form letter from FEP where they found inappropriate behavior and corrective action was taken. This women was also sued for harassment by the employee who filed the 1st complaint. My colleagues and I are extremely disappointed in our company because the corrective action appeared to be a slap on the wrist. Once the investigations were complete, nothing happened and her behavior never improved. It was almost like the company wants to give the impression they take bullying seriously but in reality they don't. We're all dumbfounded that she still has a job! Here I thought I was doing the right thing by coming forward only to find out that my company only cares about protecting management.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on October 30, 2016:

Marie - You need to determine whether this unacceptable behavior is directed at you because he's a bully or because you are female or belong to a specific protected class (i.e., based, on age, national origin, race, religion, color, disability, veteran status, etc.). Either way, you can report this behavior to HR or higher up management, but the nature of your report will be different depending on WHY you think he's behaving this way. For example, cite any examples of race or gender-based namecalling, joke telling, etc. You don't have to put up with crap like this.

Marie on October 30, 2016:

My boss down talks me in front of people yell not talk to me like a person like I am idiot let's other supervisors do the same use the f.word to me if I act like that I would get written up

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 21, 2016:

Melissa Russell - I don't know the nature of your injury, whether temporary or related to a disability under the ADA. Can you perform the full functions of your daytime job? If it's a temporary injury and your company doesn't have light duty, the supervisor may be doing you a favor by allowing you to work at all rather than requiring you to be out of work until you are healthy.

Calmly talk with her about your concerns. Tell her you are confused and need some clarification. Present facts and dates about how long you've worked there, for what rate and on what shift. Describe your performance feedback and how much you've enjoyed working for the company (if that's true). Then present the situation that confused you (not the "problem"), and ask for her help in understanding why you were switched to nights and given fewer hours. You might follow up with some questions about what prompted the decision, who made the decision, whether other employees were considered for the switch, why your pay was lowered, is this pay rate in line with others' pay for night shift, did it have anything to do with your injury, etc.

Your statement that she hates you and is driving you to quit -- if there are other actions such as name calling it's important to address those directly.

Melissa Russell on September 19, 2016:

My boss forced me to work 2 days a week on night shift bc I called in bc my leg was swelling 3x and bigger. I didn't know how or why at the time this was happening but she did see how big my leg was. Ive worked for 4 years now . Full-time day shift 9til4 until I called in the two days following my leg swelling so big. She then took 2dayshifts from me forcing me to work less hours at night but I just now noticed my pay stubs saying that she LOWERED my HOURLY wage for the nighttime hours. I didn't know this, bad enough she took my day shift besides losing 12 a paycheck but she also denotes me from 9 dollars an hour to 8 dollars an hour without even telling me. I don't usually read my check stubs. I was her favorite for two years but now she hates me and is driving to quit but I can't afford to do that so I'm holding on but now she has crossed the line she took my HOURLY wage down a dollar for every night shift hour that she is forcing me to work. Tell me what to do how to handle this please

worldcitizen777 on June 09, 2015:

I am giving a notice in a couple of weeks.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 15, 2014:

AOkay12 - You're right. Usually it's part of a past pattern of behavior. Abusers often know who to befriend as well -- decision makers and referees.

AOkay12 from Florida on September 15, 2014:

I have found that whenever a boss mistreats one person, they have most likely mistreated others. This especially rings true when the bully boss is allowed to get away with their abusive behaviors for long periods. The boss begins to feel untouchable. If the bully boss is friendly with employees in HR, then HR personnel may not be sympathetic to the plight of the "victim".

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 08, 2014:

dhimanreena - Bad bosses can make an imperfect workplace downright intolerable. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

Reena Dhiman on September 08, 2014:

I agree, its really tough to survive in a job where everyday you face a bad boss. I like the way you have covered different steps which a person should take to combat such bosses. Great job!!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 11, 2014:

Suzanne - Absolutely. You must always establish what you're dealing with. That's the crux of your case. Thanks for reading and weighing in.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 11, 2014:

Very useful information here. The first point needs to be the clearest when developing a complaint - sorting out what they've done wrong vs what they've just done in a nasty manner (but not wrong). I find ANY name calling, put downs or references to anything personal to be worth adding to a complaint, whereas someone looking at you in a funny manner or just being angry at you while expressing normal work concerns is not taken seriously, ever. Voted useful!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 29, 2014:

Faith Reaper - You're certainly welcome. Have a great evening!

Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 29, 2014:

Hi Flourish,

Sorry, I messed up my previous comment there. I have shared this useful hub on my Bullying/Illegal Harasser/Employment Issues Board.

I appreciate you writing on such an important topic to bring awareness to all. I just know this hub will help many.

Up +++ and already shared


Faith Reaper from southern USA on April 27, 2014:

Thank you so much, Flourish, and I appreciate you so much for taking the time to respond thoroughly to my long comment : )

You are of great help in obtaining further insight into such disturbing workplace behavior.

I will read your hub on documenting with interest.


FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 15, 2014:

Thanks, ologsinquito!

ologsinquito from USA on March 15, 2014:

I'm doing a lot of pinning today, so this is going on one of my abuse/bullying boards.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 15, 2014:

truthfornow - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. When you face a difficult boss, it's imperative to know what you're dealing with before taking action. Have a great weekend!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2014:

Heidi - Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. In bullying situations sometimes the dynamics can be very complicated. I have investigated situations all over the board, from people crying wolf to allegedly being pushed to suicide or mental breakdowns. There are those on both sides of the problem who walk around with some pretty heavy baggage.

Marie Hurt from New Orleans, LA on March 14, 2014:

Very detailed and good advice. It is best to be empowered with as much information and knowledge as possible and follow all these steps to prove your case. Well done here.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2014:

ologsinquito - I feel badly as well. I hope they can find a solution to the work situation ailing them. Life is too short to be unhappy.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 14, 2014:

So good that you encourage people to look at themselves, too! It takes two to "tangle" and usually these types of problems are escalated by a bully victim's behavior as well. While I can't say I've had experience with a bully at work, I can say that my experiences with going to HR about issues with other personnel over the years were unproductive. HR sometimes takes a flight or freeze mode when confronted with these messy situations. Have a great St. Pat's Weekend!

ologsinquito from USA on March 14, 2014:

So many of the people you talk with are stressed right now. I feel so badly for people in this position.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 14, 2014:

ologsinquito - Thanks for sharing and for reaching out to others to help. Work can be a substantial cause of stress, especially when you work with not-so-nice people.

ologsinquito from USA on March 14, 2014:

I'm sharing this, so the newcomers can see it. Many people are having a hard time at work, and they might appreciate this very balanced approach to problem solving.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on December 27, 2013:

Sue - This sounds like a toxic work situation, and in the end, it's probably best that you start anew. Hopefully your attorney is advocating appropriately for you. Take care of yourself emotionally, too, regardless of the outcome. I wish you the absolute best.

sue on December 27, 2013:

I worked for the IRS for three years. I had always received great appraisals with glowing summaries of my courtesy, great teamwork, and ability to get along well with management. I had won three formal awards that were recognized at the director level, and had numerous letters of praise from coworkers.

Then I was turned over to a female boss whose education level was no higher than grade school if that. She not only assaulted me twice, but criticized me continuously about my work, stating that I had not done any work for months, even though I had evidence that I had been working.

She was an executive and she got her manager and other executives to hold weekly meetings to harass me about baseless claims. I wasn't allowed any representation at the meetings. Finally, she got her manager to issue a proposed suspension for insubordination. The notes she used were completely false, and nothing "willful" was ever proven. She and her LR simply wrote down claims that my lawyer later proved false. Nonetheless, she managed to get her manager to turn the proposal into a real action. The Decision Letter claimed I went AWOL for three weeks (provably false).

Throughout, labor laws were broken. The woman's manager never checked with me for my side before issuing the suspension. He never checked on my recent, glowing appraisals. Nothing could be proved, and no intermediate steps were followed. The suspension was based on two meetings that I fled because I became ill after being berated.

Finally, the suspension was overruled, but I was forced out of work anyway. I'm trying to regroup while looking for new work.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on November 27, 2013:

JPSO138 - Thanks for reading and commenting. After awhile, an organization is left with the same type of people. Those who don't like the culture there and don't fit well within it for whatever reason leave or are pushed out. It is always wise to take a real hard look at the people. The people do make the place, good or otherwise. The bullies, like bad apples, can contaminate the entire organization if they are permitted to.

JPSO138 from Cebu, Philippines, International on November 27, 2013:

I hope that many will be able to read this. There are plenty of bosses out there who does not know how to handle human resources. Sadly many people with great talent will be lost because of this. Great hub!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on September 18, 2013:

ologsinquito - Thanks for reading and commenting. Unfortunately, bullying and tough managers are all too common experiences. I appreciate that you liked my book recommendations. I think they should be helpful to anyone experiencing these problems.

ologsinquito from USA on September 18, 2013:

This is a great article, with great pictures and useful information. I especially like the books you've chosen if someone wants to read about the dynamics of bullying, workplace mobbing and narcissistic personality disorder in more depth. Voted up.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on July 07, 2013:

Thelma - Glad you never had the dilemma of dealing with a bad boss. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on July 07, 2013:

Thanks for this very informative hub. I was lucky I had always a nice boss when I was working before. Have a nice day!

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 31, 2013:

Lisa, I am so sorry you are having to face this situation at work. Life is challenging enough without bullies and office mean girls making it even harder. It seems like the owner has made the unfortunate choice to side with office jerks. We all must make choices. Makes me wonder what the motivation and politics behind his choice is? I wish you well in finding greener pastures soon. In my investigation role, I have seen people leave jobs they hate in sloppy, dramatic, gracious, and anti-climactic ways. Protect your physical and emotional well being.

Lisa from WA on May 31, 2013:

I'm currently dealing with a couple of bullies in the small office I work at. I've been here three months and about two of those three have been absolute hell. After trying to fight, I've decided it's time to flee as soon as I can find another job. It's unfortunate because I love the job, but they have caused me too much stress and the owner has made it clear that I need to put up with it or leave (yes, he acknowledged their behavior, admitted they have a reputation in the small city we are located in, and told me that I needed to leave if I couldn't take it).

This is another very informative hub and it's interesting to see that I've tried all three of the methods you mentioned at some point during my own experience (fight, flee, or freeze). You gave great advice, some of which I may use in the near future.

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 23, 2013:

That boss probably did sexually harass others before you. The company did the right thing in firing him, and so did you in reporting him! Thank goodness you spoke up!

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on April 23, 2013:

You have provided excellent information here on how to deal with a "bullying boss". I had an experience where my boss started treating me badly after I refused to go on a date with him. Close to quitting time, he would hand me hours of work to do and tell me he needed it first thing in the morning. The first couple of times, my co-workers stayed late and helped me complete the work. The third time, I confronted him. He threatened to fire me and I just told him to go ahead and do it. Luckily, his boss dropped in for a visit and I spoke with him and apparently he had previously had similar complaints from other past employess, and he was the one that got fired.

This is an excellent hub on how to deal with "bullying bosses". Your information could be very helpful to someone having to deal with this type of situation. Voting this up, useful and interesting! :)

FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 18, 2013:

And I bet he never did it again, Kasman! Good for you.

Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on April 17, 2013:

Well flourish, I think I'm someone who falls into the confrontational type. I had a boss take me to task in front of a customer one time in a very embarrassing manner. Now many years ago in my pre- Jesus age.....I would've probably either slugged the guy or bitten his head off. I didn't, I waited a few days actually until I calmed down......thought about what I was going to say and I took him to task in a calm manner but made sure he knew that he was never to speak to me like that again especially in front of someone else. Never talk down to me, for I don't to you. If I a make a mistake, tell me behind the scenes. Good hub, voting this up!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 16, 2013:

This is a good overview of what to do if you are experiencing bullying. I like how you take it step by step. I know from experience that it is hard to concentrate when this is happening to you. Your easy-to-follow directions are very helpful. Have a wonderful day!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on March 12, 2013:

There is a saying..."with great power, comes great responsibility." Thanks for providing suggestions to deal with these bullies, who, whatever the circumstance, will take their toll on others. Thanks for sharing!