How to Deal with an Abusive Boss

You can never escape the boss. Even if you are the CEO of a company, your “bosses” are your investors and your clients. Sometimes, we’re blessed by wonderful bosses that nurture our autonomy and give us the support we need to do our best work. Other times, we’re cursed with the enfant terrible of the corporate world, the preening bully whose mission it seems to be to make our working lives miserable.

There are many types of abusive bosses, from the constant critics to the control freaks to the schemer that undermines you and talks badly about you to others. If you’re really lucky, you get the type of boss I worked for a few years ago, who was prone to occasional shouting fits in the middle of the office. Fortunately, there are many helpful ways to deal with the abusive boss. Here are a few tips:

Don’t React

It can be hard not to react in kind when you have someone demeaning you – in front of others or not. However, you should do your best to stay professional. Respond to the issue calmly, and address the facts. Don’t lose your cool, or you will only give him more fodder for his tirade.

Confront the Problem

By “confront,” we don’t mean match your boss in a yelling contest. Instead, arrange to meet with him after there has been some time for both of you to calm down. Directly address the problem by making comments such as “You seem unhappy with my work. What can we do to resolve the issue?” Try to remain objective.

Take Notes

Many bullies don’t know when they are being bullies. And it may be hard to note it to others. Make a more solid case for yourself by taking notes of incidents: when they happen, what was said, who was involved, etc. This way, you can present a pattern of behavior rather than a handful of anecdotes that may be written off as your “perception.”

Talk to an HR Rep

If you can’t resolve the issue with your boss directly, go to an HR rep. This person is trained to provide mediation in such matters, and can advise you on company policy. You can also arrange a meeting between you, your boss, and your HR rep.

Know When It’s Time to Leave

Sometimes, the situation may just be too unbearable or interfere too much with your ability to do your work. In such cases, it may be best to look for work elsewhere. Your office should be a place where you can do your best work and find fulfillment in what you’re doing. If that’s not the case, you should look for work that can offer you that.

Have you ever had to work with an abusive boss? How did you handle the situation? Did any of these tips work for your situation?

[The article has been written by Maria Rainier.She is a freelance writer and blogger where she’s recently written about actuary jobs along with a guide to economist careers. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, traveling and working with origami.]

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