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 homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Assertiveness Bullies Yelling

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?

The individual that you describe as a manager is not a manager at all -- she is a bully. This is a person who skulks around the corporate playground, looking for someone to verbally beat up. Importantly, bullies do not get into battles with people who may give them a match, but search for people whom they think they can dominate.

If you want this nonsense to stop, your first move is to try to act more assertively. Naturally, that is easier said than done, and you may need to consider some assertiveness training.

Rather than waiting for the next time she pushes you around, you should meet with her in the moments when she is acting more like a human. Spell out the specific behaviors that are upsetting you, let her know exactly how you feel, and then indicate that the behaviors in question must stop now. Wrap up the meeting by letting her know that if this type of abuse and harassment continues, your next step will be to go to senior management or explore your legal options.

If the bully remains bullheaded, it is time to take that next step.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!