I am getting more emails all the time from pleading for advice on how to handle an a$$hole boss. I am not quite sure how I got the “Dear Abby” label since most of what I write is geared toward employers. I don’t mind answering these because I am distressed that people get treated this way. Bosses should not be allowed to treat people poorly. To me it is indicative of a lack of training and a lack of courtesy and respect. I got another such request for help today, so I figured I would reach back into my archives and republish this post.
From May 2016
I got an email the other day pleading for help. She said I needed to do something to help her and her co-workers. They work for a bad boss, a boss who is a bully. He uses intimidation and threats to coerce and bend people to his will. My first reaction was “why do you put up with this?” She had allowed herself to deal with this abuse for several years. Again I thought “why?” Her email explained that she worked in a small veterinary business in a large metropolitan area. She wanted me to report her boss to the “authorities” in order to save them.
My response to her was to tell her that unfortunately there is no law against being an asshole of a boss. As long as this behavior was not directed at them for some protected category such as race or sex, he was doing nothing illegal. He was an equal opportunity abuser. I told her it was up to her to change her situation.
I get similar emails from others in response to a post I wrote about wage and hour situations. There are a lot of people who work for bad bosses. I have never worked of a bad boss (other than perhaps my current one, me.) Let me correct that. I have never CONTINUED to work for a bad boss. I left their employment. I refused to be a victim of someone’s abuse or ineptitude. I refused to do a job I hated.
I have never CONTINUED to work for a bad boss. I left their employment. I refused to be a victim of someone’s abuse or ineptitude. I refused to do a job I hated.
In situations where I hear someone tell me about their situation all I can think is that their fate is in their own hands. Isabel Allende said “You are the storyteller of you own life, and you can create your own legend or not.” If you don’t want to be a victim then write a different story.
“You are the storyteller of you own life, and you can create your own legend or not.”
I know there are a ton of excuses for being a victim and I am not going to down play those. It can be very difficult to get out of some of those situations. It can be difficult to change your story but it can be done. There was a very uplifting story on the news about a young black woman living in a home for teens too old to be in a foster home. She had been very down on herself. No one wanted to adopt her. One day she decided to “write her own story” and buckled down and studied and worked hard. She has just graduated with highest honors and has earned $700,000 in scholarships to go to college. If a lost teenager can do that then you can get out of your lousy job and away from your bad boss.
Get busy living, or get busy dying.
A line from a favorite movie is said by Tim Robbins character Andy Dufresne when he said “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.” If you know the movie you know the rest of the story. Andy selected not to be a victim. The young lady decided not to be a victim. You can choose the same!
Despite the photo being an asshole boss is not the sole purview of men. I have known many an asshole female boss too.
Here are some additional posts that may offer some additional guidance.
Is bullying in the workplace legal?
11 Ways To Deal With An Asshole Boss That Don’t Include Quitting Your Job