Dealing With A Bully Boss


If your boss is someone that likes to bully or force their opinions upon others. My advice is usually to look past what they are saying and try to figure out why they act the way they do. Most people that have a aggressive and domineering personality have weak self-image issues. That is not to say that they are weak minded or that they think little of their value. Rather, It is to say that they have vulnerabilities in their self-image and the way that they protect themselves is to mount a strong offense. When you are negotiating with someone like this I recommend that you build rapport and stroke their ego by acknowledging their position while teaching them to respect you and your position. Mutual respect makes a negotiation much easier. I don’t expect that every time you enter a negotiation you’re going to be negotiating with someone that you would love to have as your best friend but I do recommend that you have a level of respect for the person or at least the position in the organization that the person holds.


If the person you are negotiating with does not respect you and tries to push you around in the negotiation I recommend early on you draw the line and teach them to respect you. Most people are not comfortable with confrontation, but I would venture to say that those people that appear to be the most confrontational have a dilemma when they have to deal with confrontation and maintain a professional demeanor. A boss that is willing to get loud and pushy in the ordinary daily activities is often able to be corrected in private when they feel that they are safe from scrutiny. Obviously I’m not saying you should jump up and get in your boss’s face if they make a condescending comment to you but with tact and skill you can point out that the comment that they just made was perceived by you as inappropriate and offensive. Your feelings and your perceptions are valid and you are entitled to them. Once you have pointed out that they have made an offensive comment to you they have one of two options. Either to disregard your feelings or to acknowledge them and apologize. Be careful when you confront them not to belittle as that will only escalate the emotion in the situation. It is important that you say it in a matter-of-fact tone and ask them to acknowledge through rephrasing of their comment what they meant by it. The rephrasing will often cause them to slow down and make more conscious decisions of the words and tone they use.


Once an aggressive personality has been put on notice and if they have acquiesced and apologized they will be more sensitive and careful in future conversation with you. Very few people want to be seen as a jerk or a bully and to that extent most aggressive personalities will try to soften their approach to those people who have pointed out that there aggressiveness is inappropriate and will not be tolerated in silence. That is unless you are just as aggressive and belligerent. If you are trying to beat them at their own game remember that the point of this conversation is to win them over not determine who can be the biggest jerk.


When your boss disrespects you find a place away from others and let your boss know that you do not appreciate his or her behavior and that you expect that it will not happen again. This will be enough for the average bad-mannered boss. If it is not, the next step is riskier and one that you need to take only after careful consideration. Again this is for extreme circumstances. When the unrepentant boss insults you again call them out in front of all present and with a firm voice and rigid demeanor. Do Not get physical. Let them know that their continued behavior is insulting and counter productive. Point out to them that their behavior is degrading and shows a lack of concern and leadership on their part. Tell them that you want to do your job to the best of your abilities but that their behavior is interfering with your work. Ask them directly to make sure that they will not do what they did ever again. Now, for the reiteration of my warning. When you take a bold in-your-face approach some will retaliate and you may find yourself worse off. For me I would rather leave a job on my terms than remain in an negative, oppressive work environment.


Getting paid what you are worth is just part of your compensation. Respect and gratitude is also an important part so don’t sell yourself short. Make a conscious decision regarding how you will behave and how you want to be treated in the work environment. Conduct yourself appropriately and encourage those you work with to do the same.

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