Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the JerksAtWork.com homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.
 

Bullies

Here are the questions filed under this category. To read Ken's advice on any item, click on the link "Read Ken's Answer."


I am a department manager with 30 employees reporting to me. I have 3 colleagues who manage their departments, and one of them berates and belittles her employees. I have confronted this lady about her ethics on behalf of her staff, and she told me to mind my own business. She already fired one of her employees for speaking out of the "line of command." Should I take this up with upper management?
Read Ken's Answer

Our large communication company has implemented a monthly evaluation of each work group to increase productivity. The result is the low performer is harassed by management even if the group is satisfactory in every way. We are being appraised strictly on data the employees themselves supply to management. What to do?
Read Ken's Answer

I was just reprimanded by my manager in front of our whole department. She was yelling and screaming about my project being late, but I told her several days ago that I needed more help to get it done. She wouldn't listen to me then, and there was no way to get a word in today. What should I say to her now?
Read Ken's Answer

I am looking for another job because of my manager. He is an uncommunicative, over-controlling, micromanager. Everyone who reports to him cannot stand him. I have been told that it is not a good idea to speak negatively about your manager during a job interview, but he is the only thing I don't like about this job. What should I say when asked why I am leaving this job?
Read Ken's Answer

When I disagreed with my boss in the past, he would persist until I backed off. As long as I agree with him, we work well together. Now I hear myself saying things I don't even believe just to stay in his good graces. I am in mid-career, and I am wondering if this is what I want to be doing. Any suggestions?
Read Ken's Answer

I love my job in this fast-paced environment. My job is very detailed, and if something is not done exactly right, the boss yells and curses at me in front of everyone. We are all women, but if others make mistakes, she does not treat them like this. I admire and respect this woman, but after our conflicts, I leave upset and hurt. After each episode, she leaves an apology on my desk. I cry after reading it and wonder how things can be different.
Read Ken's Answer

How should we deal with a manager who keeps threatening to lay us off if we make the slightest mistake? Our company has had some layoffs lately, and our manager has told us several times he is on the lookout for names to add to the next round. How can I deal with him?
Read Ken's Answer

I am an over 50-year-old woman, and my boss is an alcoholic. Some days he can be normal, but on most days he yells, screams, and curses at me for no reason. I am scared to death of him. I have been on the job for over two years, but I cannot tolerate his behavior any more. I have sent out resumes and received no replies. I am discouraged. What can you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

The assistant to the chairman of a company complained to our company president that I had not returned any of her calls. Our president played her message and told me that he is about to fire me for not returning her calls. But I did return her calls through another individual, just as I was instructed to do. Anyway, I resigned. I am just curious on your thoughts on his action to terminate an employee over a phone call.
Read Ken's Answer

About a year ago, the company president's assistant was fired because she would yell back when being screamed at and cussed at by him. I schedule his meetings, and I too get yelled at and cussed at. If he makes mistakes, he yells at me. We are a small office and there is no human resources professional. What do I do?
Read Ken's Answer

The woman I report to, a vice president, is one of the cruelest people I have ever met! I am one of two managers who report to her, and she constantly belittles both of us in public, and she will literally attack over trifling matters. We have gone to senior management and to the Director of Human Resources, but to no avail. She and the HR Director are close personal friends, so that made things even worse. I am looking for another job, but I would like to know what to do in the interim.
Read Ken's Answer

My manager picks on me and makes annoying comments. For example, yesterday he walked by my area and said it's time to clean up the mess. Everyone else's area is just as messy, but he doesn't say this to them. Besides, I clean it up at the end of the day. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

I was interviewing an applicant and she volunteered information about her personal life that I had not requested. Once she had opened the door, I asked a few follow-up questions. When I mentioned this to our Human Resources manager, she practically bit my head off and told me that even if the applicant brings up personal information, an interviewer has to ignore it. Is she right?
Read Ken's Answer

I can honestly admit that I am a screamer, but none of the employees in my charge seem to care about it. If I blow up, I apologize, but my manager recently came down on me about my outbursts, and he did not care that my employees are not upset by them. How can I get him to stop worrying about this?
Read Ken's Answer

I work at an oil refinery and was in a meeting the other day when the plant manager told me to sit down and shut up in front of everyone else. This is typical of how he talks to me. How should I deal with him?
Read Ken's Answer

Whenever I talk with our manager, he makes me feel stupid, even though my work is just fine. He uses belittling language, and his whole demeanor is condescending. We all know that he is smart, but he seems to take pride in putting the rest of us down. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with him?
Read Ken's Answer

We have a new supervisor, and three of us work under her. She manages by threat and intimidation. She gives us a performance appraisal and shows us our errors, but does not credit us for anything we do right. What is the best way to deal with her?
Read Ken's Answer

We did a survey here, and one of the consultants told me that my employees are afraid of me. I told him I was not bothered by that. I think that a little bit of fear helps keep employees sharp and on their toes. The consultant essentially told me that I am wrong. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer

I'm a line supervisor for a trucking company. One of our dockmen is a bully who harasses some of his co-workers about their performance, looks, and sexuality. A number of them have complained to management, and I've brought several complaints to my immediate supervisor who has jurisdiction over this dockman, but nothing has been done. Should I go over my boss's head?
Read Ken's Answer

I work in sales and my manager reprimanded me in front of a customer. I was humiliated and angered. Afterwards, when I told him how upset I was, he said this is an excellent way for me to learn. I disagree. Do you?
Read Ken's Answer

I report to one of several managers-on-duty, and she yells at me and insists I do everything her way. Her boss, the general manager, gives me totally different directions. If I do what the general manager says, the manager-on-duty yells. My supervisor decided to quit because of the manager-on-duty. How do I deal with her?
Read Ken's Answer

Our manager is a tyrant. She yells and screams at most of us, makes unreasonable demands, and generally treats us poorly. The turnover in our department is the highest in the company. We have gone to senior management and told them about this, but they do not seem to care. Is there anything else we should be doing?
Read Ken's Answer

I work with a nasty and condescending co-worker. No matter what I say or do, he always gets upset, criticizes me, and tries to make me feel stupid. He wants everything done his way, and if it's not, he gets furious and then he sulks and hardly says a word. How do you work with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

Our supervisor is a nasty and critical person, the manager over her is just as bad, and they both are especially mean to me. I am friendly with my fellow employees, and they have all noticed that I am picked on and blamed more than anyone else. I don't know what to do.
Read Ken's Answer

I recently began a new job as an estimator. The owners of the company are young and both lack formal education. One owner yells and screams at his subordinates, and his words carry throughout the building. Isn't there an appropriate method to inform employees of errors or potential errors?
Read Ken's Answer

Over a recent holiday weekend, according to my manager, I missed several pages. I assured him that my pager is always on and I would never ignore a page. He cursed at me and called me a liar. Meanwhile, he is notorious for ignoring pages, voicemail, and company e-mail. He has lied and threatened us with termination, and I've been told that his behavior is typical for this company. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

I am employed at a very reputable company as an administrative coordinator. Up until recently, I enjoyed my job immensely. However, my new boss is extremely demanding, every voice mail message is urgent, and she often produces last-minute assignments. I was astonished when she called me into the office and said that if I can't keep up with the pace, maybe I should look for another position in the company. I'm not sure how to handle this situation.
Read Ken's Answer

We have monthly meetings that have turned into monthly beatings. Last month two people thrashed me publicly in the meeting. I informed the department head that if this happens again, I will leave the meeting. One of the people complaining at the meeting has a ten-year friendship with the department head. What do you advise?
Read Ken's Answer

My new supervisor is rude, abusive, and intimidated by my previous professional experience and technical knowledge. Although I previously received excellent yearly assessments, he has given me several verbal and written warnings within the first three weeks of reporting to him. I have begun searching for a new position, but I am concerned over what this supervisor will say about me in a reference check, and I fear a backlash from him if I do not obtain the new position. My previous management contacts have moved to other organizations. How do I approach this situation?
Read Ken's Answer

I am the manager of the accounting department at a large title insurance company. There is a title officer who has a history of angry outbursts, mistreatment of assistants, and verbal abuse of co-workers, regardless of warnings from upper management. He claims that people are yelling at him, so he yells at us. His behavior is abusive and against all company policies and harassment laws. I need some advice.
Read Ken's Answer

There are about 20 people in our department, but the manager is mean to me. She yells and screams at me if I make the slightest mistake, but rarely raises her voice to the others. I hate to say it, but she makes me cry. What can I do?
Read Ken's Answer

Our manager tells us that fear is the great motivator. He threatens to write us up, give us poor reviews, hold back our raises, and terminate those who are not up to his standards. I don't think fear is a great motivator at all, but I am working hard. Does he have something?
Read Ken's Answer

An employee who throws a temper tantrum, screams, shoves boxes out of the door, swears, and then walks over to a table and punches a box would probably be immediately escorted out the door. But what do you do when the owner of the company does that?
Read Ken's Answer

I have been on this job for just over a month, and my relationship with my boss was very pleasant at first. Over the weeks, he has become much more critical, and this morning he snapped at me. I don't think my work has changed, and I don't know him well enough to figure out what is happening here. Do you have any ideas?
Read Ken's Answer

We have two co-workers who have a bad attitude. They are loud, sarcastic, and sound like they are always mad at you. They look for something wrong, and they usually target people who are new on the job. I have to deal with them every morning. I have talked to my supervisor and manager about them, and they speak to these individuals, but after a few days they are back to their threatening ways. What can you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

When one of the people in my department made a huge mistake on a project, I screamed at him. He went to my boss and I was formally reprimanded. The problem is that when I make a mistake, my boss yells his head off at me, and he's not the only one around here who yells. Does this sound fair and what should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

My boss made condescending and patronizing statements which escalated to yelling and screaming, which escalated to kicking boxes out the door and punching them. The boss said that employers can treat employees any way they want and employee relations have nothing to do with it. I quit the next day. I don't know about you or anybody else, but I certainly did not want to stay in that kind of environment.
Read Ken's Answer

I have been employed for seven months on my present job. My boss has made several comments about my physical appearance, and he recently told me how I reminded him of a particular lingerie model. I am most uncomfortable with this situation, but I feel it probably does not qualify as sexual harassment. Do I say anything, and if so, how?
Read Ken's Answer

Our manager has this habit of saying, "I know I shouldn't say this," before coming out with a disgusting or degrading comment. He gets a big laugh out of this, as do some of the followers around here, but many of us are offended. What do you do with a manager like this?
Read Ken's Answer

After almost 9 years at a job I really enjoyed, I made a decision to leave. The reason is my supervisor. I don't know why she didn't like me and emotionally abused me, as I was praised for my work by other departments. I spoke to the personnel director who then told my supervisor about everything we had discussed in confidence. I need closure on this. Can you help?
Read Ken's Answer

We have a manager whose department is profitable, but his style is far too aggressive, abrasive, and difficult. Turnover in his department is the highest in our company, and exit interviews have shown that he is the problem. How do you deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

Our general manager is quick to tell the managers that we can be terminated at any time because we are at-will employees. If he is unhappy with one of our employees, he will say something like, "You should fire him. He's at-will. You can fire whoever you want." Is he right?
Read Ken's Answer

My boss stormed into my office and yelled and swore at me, saying that I did not give him the full story on a problem we had discussed the day before. He then misquoted what I had told him. When I said that to him, he told me I was lying. How do you deal with a boss like this?
Read Ken's Answer

I am not in a low level position, but my manager is giving me more and more routine and time-consuming chores. He treats me with no respect, and if I say anything about these assignments, he gets hostile. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

I made a mistake on a project and I am trying to correct it. One of my co-workers found out about it and told my boss. It is just a matter of time before my boss calls me into his office for one of his trademark verbal bashings. What is the best way to prepare for this?
Read Ken's Answer

Whenever our manager makes a mistake, he blames one of us and is verbally abusive if we challenge him. He is in a very senior position in the company, and there is no one to go to if we want to complain. Is there anything we can do to get him to admit his mistakes and stop blaming us?
Read Ken's Answer

I get most of my assignments from my manager, but there is another manager at his senior level who also gives me projects and tasks. Although my manager is satisfied with my work, the other manager is never happy with it, and his communications are insulting and degrading. Most of the time, he is flat-out wrong. When I show him I am right, he ignores me. I've told my manager and he does nothing about it. How should I handle this?
Read Ken's Answer

Our company goes through a reorganization every couple of years. There is one manager who never sees eye to eye with me, and he recently said in a half-joking way that if I ever end up working under him, I will not be working here for long. I just heard through the grapevine that I may be reporting to him very soon. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

There has been much written in the papers and online recently about a nominee for an important government position who uses a tough managerial style. I think that being tough is an integral part of being an effective leader, and I do not believe that being tough should ever stop someone from holding a top leadership position. To the contrary, I think it should be a requirement. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer

I used to report to a friendly and upbeat manager who was not particularly knowledgeable, but I sure enjoyed working with him. My new manager is technically sharp, but he is mean and insensitive and seems to relish every opportunity to put me down. I cannot stand working for him. Can you help me?
Read Ken's Answer

My manager makes cruel and degrading comments about me in front of other employees and even outsiders, and my work does not merit negative feedback at all. When I jump back to defend myself, he does not listen and just criticizes more. What do you suggest I do?
Read Ken's Answer

When I meet with my boss, he asks questions and makes comments that make me look and feel incompetent. I do my job well, but when I try to answer him, he doesn't listen, but just makes meaner comments, especially in front of others. I get flustered every time I meet with him, and I know I am going to look like an incompetent. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer

When one particular senior manager in this company gets upset, he uses a lot of profanity in his email. Several of us are offended and upset by this, but we are not sure what to do about it. After all, he is in senior management. He does not use this language in person. How do we get the profanity to stop?
Read Ken's Answer

One of the people I work with is constantly telling me what to do. She does not have more expertise, and she and I are at the same job level. I have told her that I don't appreciate the orders, but she persists. Is there a better way to deal with her?
Read Ken's Answer

My manager is overly critical of just about everything I do. In my last review, some of his remarks were very hurtful, even though my work was definitely satisfactory. He said I need to understand that he is "brutally honest." How do you deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

My manager gave me a brief assignment and I completed it on time and correctly, but he tore into me and criticized the work up and down. I showed him in black and white that he was wrong, and then he said he did not care. He has not talked to me since and it's been a few days. What do I do now?
Read Ken's Answer

Our manager makes all sorts of mean comments to us. Whenever we voice any complaints or suggestions, his response is that if we don't like working here, there are ten people who will gladly take our job. That is the end of the discussion. How do we deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

My manager makes remarks that can be hurtful and degrading, and when I call him on it, he always says that he is just teasing. He says that he doesn't mean any harm and it is all done in fun. What can I do?
Read Ken's Answer

I am a legal secretary, and my boss is often moody, rude, abrupt, impatient, and unfriendly, and gets very defensive if I even hint about any of this. He said he does not have to apologize to me because I am not his wife. I am doing a good job, and it is hard to find another job. Any advice?
Read Ken's Answer

I am an administrative assistant, and my boss was starting a meeting and he asked me to go down the hall and tell another manager who was supposed to attend that the meeting is about to begin. I stuck my head in the manager's office and he yelled at me and said he knows the meeting is starting and he'll be there when he can. I left and simply told my manager what he said. Should I tell my manager about the screaming?
Read Ken's Answer

I was at a meeting with several other managers today and the senior manager running the meeting attacked one of the others because of a very minor mistake. As the meeting was closing, I mentioned a point that needed further discussion, and he jumped at me and told me I was wrong and declared the meeting over. How do you deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

Over the past year and a half, I have worked for the same manager. During this period, I have put on some weight, and recently he has made some insulting comments about it. I have told him that I don't appreciate it, but he still does it. I'm not looking for trouble or lawsuits. I just want him to stop. What do you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

My question is about an organizational behavior that is creating a lot of stress, mostly at work. I consider raising my voice different from yelling. In your opinion, is there a difference? What can I do to have others understand the difference?
Read Ken's Answer

I am in management, and I admit that I scream at my employees when necessary. If I really lose it, I apologize later. My people understand me and work hard for me. Now some new young vice president has told me to tone it down. I've had a productive department for years, and I don't see why I should change.
Read Ken's Answer

My manager has a packet on our health insurance that is supposed to be given to all of us. When I asked for mine, he came by my desk later and literally threw it at me and then walked away. I don't want to make a big deal out of nothing, but what should I do about this?
Read Ken's Answer

There is a very senior person here who is mean, divisive, and uncaring. I can't imagine why he is still on board. He is not team-oriented, and he demands that everything be done his way. People who report to him think he is a dictator. Why would a company keep someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

I met with my manager and she told me that some of my employees have complained to her and called me a bully. I think this is a ridiculous assertion that is the result of too many employees who need coddling and pampering. I am a strong and firm manager who expects hard work and results from his employees. Does that make me a bully today?
Read Ken's Answer

I recently started a new position, and the division head is a jerk. I have already seen two employees quit because of her, and I was told that morale is low and turnover is high because of her. I was also told she produces outstanding results, and that is why the company keeps her. Some employees have even adopted her style. This week I experienced her overly demanding style, and I donít think I can last here. What do you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

I am cannot stand my manager who happens to be an owner of the company. He can be friendly, but he can instantly become mean and insulting especially in front of others. Whenever I see his name on an email to me, or whenever he wants to see me, I feel nauseous. I have tried to talk to him, but Iím never comfortable. How do you deal with someone like this?
Read Ken's Answer

My supervisor constantly plays practical jokes on me, especially in front of others. Things are said about me in a playful way, but others donít know this person is playing around. I enjoy a good joke, but when I am trying to work it becomes hurtful and annoying. The other issue is that my supervisor is one of my closest friends. This makes it hard for me to say anything. What can I do?
Read Ken's Answer

My boss gave me a fairly basic project which I recently completed. I was at lunch with her and three of my fellow employees, and I happened to bring up this project, and she snidely said it was insignificant, meaningless, and not even worth looking at. I was embarrassed, but I did not lash back, even though I wanted to. How do you deal with a boss like this?
Read Ken's Answer

I am in an administrative support position, and I get email from many people in the company. I am wondering why so many people have a mean tone in their messages. I can feel myself get tense before I read email from certain people here. What can you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

Whenever we have a department meeting, our manager puts me on the spot. If I make a presentation, he challenges me with impossible questions. If there is a discussion, he calls on me in the middle and asks a tough question. This is embarrassing and annoying, but I donít know how to get him to stop. What can you suggest?
Read Ken's Answer

I am the only woman on a four-person educator team. I am a clinical social worker, and I get along well with all of the other team members, except one, the school principal. He tells people not to listen to what I say, he shared information inappropriately, and he provokes the children. I have called him on this behavior, ignored his arrogance, told my supervisor, and hired men because women cannot stand working with him. My boss thinks I am overreacting. What do you think?
Read Ken's Answer

A very rude and scheming co-worker was recently promoted over me by our senseless boss. She is switching to a more subtle rudeness after the boss kind of told her to "cut it out" (but without any firmness). What she now does is make statements to me that just cross the line between normal instructions and condescending, harsh reprimands. Her speech and emails carry a tone that implies that I do not pull my weight which is far from the truth. She enlists the help of other employees in mobbing me in this way. Management does not understand the subtleties of communication and I fear that if I cannot assert myself properly against this continuous onslaught, my anger will build to explosiveness (the bullies' goal). I am afraid that she will get huffy and take a complaint to management that I am unable to take instructions or criticism and that they will review the facts and side with her. They might say that I am "taking it the wrong way" or "reading into things incorrectly" and blame me. This is something that is happening after the bully has made a pattern of treating me with great rudeness and disrespect. She is a jealous, insecure baby but has been with the company for 7 years where I have only been there 2-1/2 years. They love the little ass-kissing fool. Any advise on how to handle this?
Read Ken's Answer

My boss has recently put me on an action plan to assist me in sales improvement. When I don't make sakes, she calls me into her office at odd times (esp. when I'm very busy), then puts hard pressure in me by saying that I'm on the "chopping block." She recently told me that I need a "fire under my ass." Today she told me that everywhere I go there is drama and blamed me for the internet malfunction when it was CLEARLY NOT my fault. Then she told me to go and pick up food for our entire office with her credit card and never offered me any food but expected me to drive and pick it up. She wrote me up for tailgating someone out of the garage saying she's "never had an employee like this." She told me that I can't fax documents any longer because of the internet, and one of my favorites is that she doesn't allow me to have my office door closed at all--- not even when I'm on a conference call. Oh yeah... She also told me that another employee has had complaints about her and that's she's "crazy or probably going through menopause." I want to notify HR, but I'm so afraid. She warned me that if I don't back her up or go against her I will regret it. What should I do?
Read Ken's Answer