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Meetings Insults Insecurity Public Reprimands

Whenever I am at a meeting with my manager, he always has a couple of "friendly insults" about me in front of the others. I don't like this, but it is the only thing I don't enjoy about working with him. I don't feel like creating a problem, so I'm not sure what to do.

There is no way that you can create a problem that already exists. In fact, it even has a title: manager. Rather than worrying about causing a problem, your focus should be on devising a strategy to correct one. While it may be tempting to give your manager a good elbow every time he delivers a put-down, there is no point to adding injury to insult.

Whether you recognize it or not, he is threatened by you. It does not matter if he has any real need to be concerned about the possibility of your upstaging him, he wants to make sure that this does not happen. By his little put-downs in front of an audience, he is trying to let everyone know that he is the star, and you better not outshine him.

You implied that all other aspects of your working relationship with him are positive. If this is the case, presumably you can openly express your concerns about any aspect of work to him. In this kind of working relationship, if there were something about your performance that bothered him, no doubt he would mention it to you. In turn, now that there is something about his performance that bothers you, it is fair and appropriate for you to mention it to him.

While it's always important to voice your concerns about a particular behavior as close to an actual incident as possible, this does not mean you should launch into him at the next meeting just as he delivers what he thinks is a master insult. However, as soon as the two of you have a chance to talk and debrief after the meeting, you should tell him what you think.

Your comments should not focus on him, but rather should be directed only at the behavior that bothered you. You should be as specific as possible, let him know your feelings about it, and tell him that you want it to stop now. If he is as good a manager as you think he is, he'll get the message.

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