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Coach's Corner--April 28, 2008

The boss is a bully? Changing jobs may not be necessary

The Client
Name: Martha
Age: 28
Title: Marketing assistant
Time at company: 1 1/2 years 
Industry: Insurance
Issue: Stopping an office bully
Q. My supervisor yells at me — a lot. When mistakes are made, she blows up at me, whether they were my mistakes or not. I’ve gone to human resources. They said they’d let her boss know about the situation. Nothing has changed. I hate being treated this way, and it’s affecting my personal life big time. Maybe I should just quit, but the job market is tight and it might be the same someplace else. Do you have any ideas for me?

A. Bullies at work, especially when they have authority, can make the office a miserable place. Through inner resolve and outer action, you can improve your situation.

The inner game
In any situation, the only thing you control is your own response. That’s particularly important in a case like this. So, look at your reactions to your boss’ behavior and clarify your feelings by writing them down or talking to someone you trust. Are you angry, sad, resigned, or something else? Then, create your vision of the treatment you would like and how you would like things to change. Your goal: to build your inner strength so that you can take active steps to improve your situation. Also, stop to think about how someone else would see the situation; that can help you gain perspective on whether the treatment is as extreme as it feels.

Then, consider what may be driving her behavior. It may be hard to think of her with compassion, but if you can look at why she may be behaving this way, it may help you deal with her without taking her criticisms to heart.

The outer game
Next, think about what you can do when you feel attacked. Draw on your experiences. If you’ve been treated poorly before, how have you successfully handled it? What have you seen others do, even in a movie or a book? Think of ways you could defuse the situation, and then role-play with someone, practice alone, or silently visualize it — all ways to learn to behave differently when under stress. Find the right tactics for you, and then use them.

Communication with your supervisor may also help. Find a calm moment to find out whether she’s dissatisfied with your performance. If she is, you’ll get valuable feedback. If she’s not, it gives you the opening to discuss how you feel when she brings mistakes to you.

In addition, you’ve taken one step — going to HR. You may want make a return trip to see what kind of follow-up there has been, just to keep the situation on the record.

Of course, you could change jobs. If you consider this option, set aside your fears that this will just replay somewhere else. Look, instead, for a situation that you would like to go to rather than one that simply gets you away from the current one. Positive direction will help you find a positive outcome.

The last word
Anchoring yourself in belief in your strengths and your vision for how you should be treated, along with constructive action, will help you achieve the outcome you deserve.

Liz Reyer, President RCC - Posted April 28, 2008
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Comments and Responses (0) Post a comment

  [below viewing threshold (-20.5), show comment]troubled (April 28, 2008 6:44:01 PM)
[below viewing threshold (-8.0), show comment]Liz (April 30, 2008 10:17:51 PM)