My Boss is a Bully! | Tamara Hartley

Dear Tamara:

My boss is a bully! She uses her power and position to bully everyone in the office, but she seems to get a special kick out of picking on me. She constantly talks down to me and makes snide comments about my clothes and appearance. During our last staff meeting she used me as an example of someone who is replaceable in the company. She said that I do not stand out and no one would miss me if I was gone. I wanted to disappear. I have never been more embarrassed in my life! She is making my life at work a living hell. I used to love my job, now I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

Tired of Being Bullied


Dear Tired of Being Bullied:

I despise workplace bullies! No one should use their position or perceived power to belittle another person and make them feel worthless. It is very unfortunate when you have a manager, supervisor, boss, or person in authority who does not know how to give constructive criticism or feedback without getting personal. There is a big difference between being helpful and harmful.

I encourage you to talk to your boss one-on-one. Go to her from a place of confidence and sincerity and not a place of anger and uncertainty. Let her know how her public comments and singling you out in staff meetings is affecting your work experience. Reassure her that you love your job and are open to constructive criticism and feedback, but would rather address her concerns in a more private setting. If that does not work and the behavior continues, you may need to seek help from your HR department. If you work a small organization and there is no HR department or your boss is HR, seek help from an outside organization like the Workplace Bullying Institute to find out what constitutes “bullying,” common bullying behaviors, and other helpful resources.

I also encourage you to examine yourself and see what role, if any, you might have played in this equation. While I certainly do not condone bullying of any kind, I also wonder if there is more behind your boss’ comments. Could there be some underlying frustration with you and your performance? Is it possible that what you perceive as snide comments may actually be hints to areas you need to change and/or improve? Maybe your boss has been hinting for a while and because you see it as a negative interaction, you are not receiving it well. This does not ignore your feelings or approve of your boss bullying you in any way, I just want to give you another perspective in an attempt to help resolve the situation. Your boss may have some legitimate concerns about your workplace appearance and performance, but is not delivering the message in a way that you can receive.

Please keep all of this in mind when you talk with your boss. Read between the lines and listen to what is really being said. Hopefully you will be able to resolve the situation and get back to loving your job!




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