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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?

It sounds like you had a bullish work situation, and now you have a work situation with a bully. The traits, "mean and insensitive," have no place in the workplace, but that has not kept them out. You are not going to magically transform your new manager into your old one, but there are some points to consider.

One interesting aspect of your situation is that it mirrors the newest research on traits that employees prefer in a manager. When employees are given a choice of working for what is called a "competent jerk" or a "lovable fool," they greatly prefer the fool over the jerk. This, of course, is not to say that your friendly and upbeat manager was a fool, but it sounds like he did not have as much horsepower as the bully. At the same time, as technically competent as your new manager might be, he clearly falls short when it comes to communicating, team-building, and employee commitment. He sounds like a manager who could well be described as a "competent jerk."

When you encounter his bullying behaviors, you should respond assertively and directly. If you roll over, he is going to roll over you. When bullies encounter employees who show some strength, they tend to look around the corporate playground to find a more willing victim.

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