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 Criticism Satisfaction Complaints

I usually have lunch with the same two co-workers, and we get along well. We have a new boss, and now the two of them badmouth him for the whole lunch. This boss is awful, but I don't say anything because it's not my nature. I want to keep eating with these co-workers. What should I say in these discussions?

It is your nature to avoid these conversations, and naturally you are upset that lunchtime has turned into boss-bashing time. When encountering an outrageous new boss, many employees need to share their experiences and vent. Since you do not wish to do so, you have other options to help make lunchtime conversations more palatable.

One approach is to come to lunch armed with other topics, whether work-related or not. The only item missing from your list should be the new boss.

If your co-workers return to blasting him, you can try to change the subject. At some point, they are going to ask why you do not join in the verbal slug fest, and you should tell them the truth, but not in a moralizing or conciliatory way.

Soon enough, your new boss is going to be repeating his outrageous behaviors. When this occurs, the lunchtime discussion will turn into reruns, and this opens the door for other topics. However, with a truly outrageous boss, there may still be lunches where he again becomes the topic du jour.

If this boss is as awful as you and your co-workers feel, the discussion in which you might want to participate is one that focuses on what to do about him.

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!