Surviving The Bully Boss


Some bosses are just so mean, that they should audition for the role of the villain in a Holocaust movie. You know, the kind of role Meryl Streep played to perfection in “The Devil Wears Prada”– cold, brutal, impossibly demanding, sadistic and entitled. When Miranda Priestly asks Andy, “Where’s that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday morning?”, that just seems like the kind of lunacy a Hitler incarnate would unleash on a hapless assistant.

A 2015 survey conducted by market research firm Gallup revealed that half of the 7,200 employees quizzed, quit their jobs to get away from a boss from hell. So if your manager happens to be a bully in a suit, our deepest condolences. There are essentially two things you can do: Quit or stay on and persevere. If you loathe your boss but love your job, you can go with the second option, but you will have to make certain adjustments to help preserve your sanity or keep yourself out of jail.

1 Don’t Gossip About Them.

Don’t tattle on your boss to anyone working in the same office. Don’t rant about your job in your Facebook status updates. Mind you, these tyrannical creatures have a sixth sense; they’re basically psychic. They can tell who likes or doesn’t like them. If they so much as see or hear even the slightest confirmation of your ill feelings towards them, they will unleash the wrath of hell on you and will try everything in their power to make your life insufferable.

2 Show Up Prepared To Meetings.

There’s nothing more satisfying for a boss from the underworld than to get a chance to belittle his underlings at every turn. Try coming to a meeting without even an iota of mental preparation and you’ll simply wither in her presence. Get ready for a meeting the way you would prepare for battle, and remember to turn off or put your mobile phone on silent mode. Even if you’re only half ready, try not to get intimidated and look them in the eye. Horrible bosses have an uncanny ability to smell fear, and they will delight in seeing you squirming uncomfortably in your seat.

3 Be Careful When You Correct Her If She Makes Mistakes.

Nobody likes to be told they’ve made a mistake, especially a fire breathing dragon who chews up people’s self-esteem for breakfast. Make sure first that there really has been a mistake or you’ll only be setting yourself up for World War III. If the error is quite minor or inconsequential, you can let it go. If it’s a major mistake and the company’s reputation is at stake, you definitely have to tell your manager. Talk to her privately and be respectful. As tempting as it is, try not to gloat. Make sure you also offer a solution to remedy the situation. If you’re lucky, she might even appreciate you telling her.

4 Leave A Digital Paper Trail.

Does your boss have a habit of giving vague tasks only to change her mind at the last minute and then blame you? Bosses have a gazillion things on their minds, so don’t be surprised when they’re a little unpredictable and disorganised. If they’re not explaining tasks clearly or keep changing their minds, make sure to use emails to keep a written record to save your hide. Make an outline of what you think you are supposed to do and ask your boss for confirmation.

5 Get The HR Involved.

Report your boss’ abusive behaviour to your HR officer. Make sure you can back up your claims using emails and/or witnesses. Colleagues may have previously reported your boss without you knowing it, and she could be just one complaint away from being sacked. If the office brute happens to be the owner of the company himself, you are one unlucky human. In that case, proceed directly to #6

6 Report Your Boss To The Labour Department.

While there may be no laws anywhere that directly prevent bosses from being egotistical devils, certain abusive behaviour such as discrimination, sexual harassment, refusal to pay overtime, delayed pay or payment of minimum wages, and exposing employees to work environment that compromises their health or safety can land a boss in legal trouble. Enlist the help of a lawyer to help you navigate through the legal maze.

7 Just Leave.

If your job is ruining your relationships and your life, just ship out. Think of all that money you will save from spending all those years in therapy. Red flags include being overworked yet underpaid, bosses who play favourites so you repeatedly get bypassed for promotions and raises, or those who don’t respect your time outside of work, as well as those who only see your mistakes but don’t give you a pat on the back when you really deserve it. If you’re having a tough time dragging yourself out of bed every morning, it could be a sign that you’re really unhappy at work. Plan your getaway by updating your resume, checking out job ads, or asking your friends about vacancies.

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