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Bullies Expectations Public Reprimands Assertiveness

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?

It is not easy to deal with a boss who gets on his bully pulpit and bullies you. He is verbally shoving you around, and since you respond in a nervous and flustered style, he regards you as an inviting target. Part of the problem is that when you meet with him, you have already set an expectation that you will be nervous and look incompetent. When you expect yourself to respond poorly, the likelihood of doing so increases dramatically. If you are truly doing your job well, you need to respond more assertively when he goes into his bully mode. This does not mean that you should act aggressively, but rather hold your ground, take a deep breath, look him in the eye, and slowly give him the proven and measurable facts that answer his questions or correct his facetious comments. The more you let your boss walk all over you, the more your self-esteem, productivity, and job satisfaction will suffer. Like most bullies, if your boss senses that you will not roll over for him, he is likely to roll on over to a more willing target.

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