Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Bully Boss- How to Cope

The topic was the “boss as bully” - arbitrary, capricious, if not a borderline sociopath. My intelligent and competent lunch companion described her constant bobbing and weaving to avoid the emotional blows. The latest episode of many included the “blame game” as her boss, who had approved a report’s contents, accused her of releasing it unauthorized. Determining who felt the heat from the next higher rung on the executive ladder is not a stretch. The surprise short-term memory loss of the boss stretches the imagination.

Before the outcome of the game discloses, a description of a player is in order. Robert Hare, a Psychology professor emeritus from the University of British Columbia created a checklist for the “bully boss.”

He describes them as “selfish, callous, with a remorseless use of others." Eight traits comprise the type: “glibness and superficial charm; grandiose sense of self-worth; pathological lying; conning and manipulative; lack of remorse or guilt; shallow affect (i.e., a coldness covered up by dramatic emotional displays that are actually playacting); callousness and lack of empathy; and the failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions.” Strong stuff – particularly when one is on the receiving end.

Conventional wisdom when encountering the “bully boss” suggests several coping mechanisms. I direct you to for a compendium of resources. But what happened with my friend snarled in the blame game?

She said…. Enough! - offered appropriate notice which was refused and left the same day after a tearful goodbye from her staff. Who won? My friend restored family relationships bruised by the transference of battle scars from work, renewed her emotional strength, and excitedly searches for her next opportunity. Life is too short, right?


paris parfait said...

Ah, yes - too short indeed. I've had a couple of bad bosses in my day. One can take it for just so long before that daily dose of angst from the "bad boss" becomes an emotional liability for the employee. I'm glad your friend's story had a happy ending.

bonnie said...

Wow! This is great. Having also had to deal with a "boss bully", I can really relate. So whatever happened to the "boss that we look up to"? Thanks for the web site referral!

Kristine said...

I left my job due to the same experience. I got caught up in the blame game and when I supplied written documentation to dispute my boss' accusations the treatment got worse. The only difference in our experiences is that I did not offer notice. The corner I'd be pushed into was so intense that I knew that offering two weeks notice would only result in two weeks of further abuse. I ended up resigning at the end of the day never to return.
It was a very difficult decision to make and yet I now realize it was the best decision I have made in a long time.