My boss is a bully and doesn't take criticism well, what do I do?
Last Updated: 06/14/2016 at 5:57am
Melissa Hudson, MS Ed, PhD(c), LMFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
I work with clients of diverse backgrounds on a multitude of concerns. My approach is, at times, directive, yet always curious, nonjudgmental, collaborative, and validating.
Top Rated Answers
Refuse to accept that abuse. Start looking for another job. Document everything your boss says so you can report it or use it against him later.
Maybe talk to your boss about his behavior, and if he doesn't take that well maybe it's time to talk to someone in a higher position, you could do it anonymously!
I'm sorry to hear about your boss -- it must be difficult to work in an environment where you don't feel you are being treated respectfully (and even more challenging if you don't feel like there's a way to change it)… I think it might be helpful to consider your intentions in providing feedback to your supervisors. Are there specific behaviors you are hoping they will change? Is it more of an attitude thing — where you might want the boss to be more receptive to your ideas and input, respectful of your time, etc.? Usually, I find it helpful to write out the goals, but it really doesn’t matter how you go about it (as long as they’re quite clear to you!). Once you have your goals identified, it might help to think more about how you could approach your boss — do you need to schedule a meeting beforehand, are there urgent deadlines approaching, is there a good place to talk privately with them? These may seem like insignificant details, but I think they’re all pretty important (in my experience, at least!). When you do meet with your boss, I’d recommend being as non-confrontational as possible — most people who don’t respond well to criticism seem pretty sensitive to even subtle suggestions that they may have made some mistakes… I also usually try to start with a compliment (even something as simple as thanking them for taking the time to meet with me) and then kind of approach it in a way where it seems like I’m asking for their help with a problem I’m not quite sure how to solve. In my experience, that tentativeness has been very helpful — if you can present it in a non-threatening way like that, most people usually are capable of putting the dots together, and seeing how they can help (often by changing their own behavior). I hope some of that is helpful to you. I’ll keep fingers crossed and hope your work environment improves soon!
leave the job. Everybody has a right to self respect. If he doesn't respect you then they better don't deserve you.
Oh, that's a tough one. I heard about some research recently that when you are dissatisfied with your boss, you should tell them. Largely its a matter of getting it out in the open and not faking your feelings. If you boss is a bully, you might want to think about your situation. Do you do your job well? If you do and your boss still bully's you, you don't deserve that. I mean, even if you do your best and you don't do all they want, you still don't deserve to be bullied--even by your boss! Bosses should encourage you to do your job better. They shouldn't harass you because, in reality, that doesn't benefit you or the company itself. You have to know if you do you job well and still get bullied that its not your fault and you deserve better. Update your resume and start looking for another place to work. Sometimes the atmosphere of your workplace matters more than the pay. I know a lot of people who will work for less pay when everyone gets along. It just feels soooo good to enjoy going to work!
What is the structure of your organisation? Is your boss in the top position, or does he have supervisors, or people adjacent to him? Are you able to discuss this with your human resources department, or perhaps leave anonymous feedback? As a last resort, you could consider changing jobs to remove yourself from the situation. you should also remember that workplace bullying is a criminal offence in many countries, so check it out?
I've had plenty of bully bosses. Sometimes we have to suck it up and accept the fact that they are who we report to. When I was in that situation, the bullying was pretty obvious, and everyone knew about it. Sometimes I would be written up for things that never happened, and I would just counter that with supporting evidence and documentation. I did this each and every time she wrote me up, until she gave up. Otherwise, sometimes if your boss is a bully to you, it coul be because they feel threatened by you. If you need your job and need your income, do your best to block them out, and continue to excel at your job. If the problem is simply their attitude, then empathize. Know that they are under a ton of stress, and whatever you can do to help, would greatly ease the burden. They may never thank you, but as long as you know that you helped out, that's all that matters. They could simply be projecting onto you, what their boss might be projecting onto them.
they are your boss and you are not in the position to criticism. If you do not like how your boss is doing something you either need to suck it up, leave the job, or if it is something they are not suppose to be doing you need to go above them and talk to them about the issue.
Bullying is despicable in all of its forms however it is usually a symptom of an underlying issue for them. In the work place it is difficult for a subordinate to challenge their superior however it should at least be possible to challenge their approach in an intelligent and productive way. One possible method might be to phrase any criticism in such a way that it sounds more like a suggestion; “Do you think it might be a good idea to do it this way?” rather than “Why don’t we do it this way?” may work. Another method is to attempt to contrive a situation such that the only reasonable way forward would be to do carry out the task(s) in the way you would have suggested anyway, thereby making the boss think that they were the ones who came up with the solution. Bullying personalities tend to appreciate deference and you may make some headway with this approach. Whatever method you choose, the most important thing to do is to look after yourself. This means that, to the extent that it is possible to do, you need to imagine a protective sheath around you that masks out all of the nastiness and allows you to get through the day without coming home a nervous wreck. If you are able to find a way to deal with the behaviour for yourself then you stand a much better chance of eroding away at the bad behaviour of your boss. It is never easy to deal with a bully but you can take positive steps towards a resolution.
You don't need to put up with that kind of treatment. Document and take evidence. Find people to support you, maybe there are others who are struggling like you. And look for another job, if necessary you can report your boss to higher authority.
If sitting down and talking to him doesn't work, you might need to take it up with the management or HQ. Sometimes the only thing you can do is wait for the people of higher authority to intervene.
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