Article: Dealing with a boss who is a bully


Dealing with a boss who is a bully

The image of a boss is quite diverse - good, bad or ugly - but there is another variant - the Bully - so how do you tackle them?
Dealing with a boss who is a bully

If you ever thought bullying is only a school and college-goer’s living nightmare then wake up. Bullies of Machiavellian proportions exist at work as well, in fact in abundance where they aren’t stood up to. If you too are among those few who are working under one I would ask you to do yourself a favour. Stop living in fear and tyranny of this seemingly devious, unscrupulous person. Acknowledge the harm they are causing you psychologically and at the same time learn to reclaim your space and demand respect you deserve.


Most of us get in trouble because we fail (or forget?) to document their bullying incidences. The moment you feel you are being thrown under the bus for no apparent reason you need to note that down. Remember you can’t be hustled around and function according to their whims and fancies. Are they forcing you to stay late to complete their presentation while they go out to run personal errands or do they criticise you in front of other colleagues for your performance of lack of skills thereof? Or do they pass sarcastic remarks? All of this counts as bullying.

Don’t wait for your patience to run out for even when you may try to reach the dusty corners of your mind for evidence, you may not spot as many as would have otherwise experienced. 

Do not acquiesce

A first try and identify if they are really a bully or is it a one-off case of misconduct with you. Are you showing symptoms that you are getting affected by your bullying boss’s behaviour? Often times, we end up using the term bully so generously that even if we are asked to do something we end up saying, XYZ [insert name] is such a bully. But, is it really so? If your answer is yes and given their behaviour with you then you need to stop giving into their untimely requests and bulldozing you every now and then. Their bullying includes, sarcastic remarks, ignoring you or keeping you out of meetings too.

Confront them

If a research finding is to be believed then shocking as it may sound, but workplace bullying hurts more than sexual harassment; it causes job stress, anxiety and less job commitment. As if this were not enough, even your decision-making ability goes for a toss as well as your sense of self-worth.

Because you get belittled far too often even when you’ve been doing well professionally you begin doubting yourself. So, if you love your job then it is better to confront them in private.

Don’t plot to expose them publically, for little do you know that, they may sting back in vengeance.

Prove your mettle

Emphasize on your competency. Critically assess your performance and if you genuinely see you are under-performing, ask for a feedback. Very categorically state that you don’t appreciate them name-calling you before your peers. And, while you are talking to them do not break eye contact. Speak like you mean it and want them to take you seriously. Do not at any cost display a low self-esteem. Stay optimistic. Even when they try to intimidate you stay calm and never react.  

Don’t get friendly with them

Sometimes they may behave overtly nice to you and pretend to be concerned for you.

They try to know more about your personal life over gup-shup sessions just to build a level of comfort. But, as a piece of advice, we suggest you reveal as little detail as possible. You don’t know how they might use this against you or how low they may stoop to show their merciless side to you.

If all fails, then approach the human resource department and methodically present your case. With experiences documented they will have enough to examine and take an action. Unfortunately, some organisations encourage bullying culture by not taking any actions against bullies citing their success ration. However, you can only be hopeful that they will or else you always have an option to resign and start afresh.

The point is that just because this bully is your boss you don’t need to accept being jostled. If you seem like someone who cannot speak up then they will take an undue advantage and show their worst bully face. Do you want that? Perhaps, not.

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Topics: Leadership, Life @ Work

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