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Mentaly abusive boss

I've got a mentally abusive boss. He seems to revel in grinding his employees down, making us miserable, scapegoating, lying to clients, blaming everything on anyone but himself, etc. When challenged on this, he says he doesn't know what we're talking about.

Obviously, I need to get out. And I'm working on that.

BUT, in the meantime, I'm stuck here. It's my career, it's not just a job, so it's not like I can just quit and go do something else- I'm an art director, and there aren't a ton of art director jobs available, especially when you want to stay in the city you currently live in.

SO- any suggestions on dealing with this @$$hole until I get out of here? 'Cause right now, it's beginning to really affect my self esteem, which is making me a little depressed, which is making it harder and harder to keep from wanting to just eat horribly.

It's also making me feel less and less productive, and less and less like I actually know what I'm doing. I fear that if I don't get out soon, I'll end up trapped here because I'm too beaten down to think I can work anywhere else.


Fri. Oct 27, 10:10am

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are you able to just be completely honest with your boss about the feelings you've expressed here? if you're at a breaking point, maybe you should lay it on the line and tell it like it is. it may make a difference...i am just waiting to get my christmas bonus to do the same thing with my boss.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:29 AM

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One of the best things you can do is to document all the mean stuff he's doing to you in particular. This will help you to de-brief & get it out of your system, but it could also help in the long run, if you need to back yourself up (whether it's in a legal setting, with other managers, with HR, etc.). Be sure to write down the days & perhaps what you said (esp if you stood up for yourself). Try to get it verbatim as much as possible.

Definitely be job searching in the meantime! And when you go on interviews, try to be diplomatic about your current boss (if they ask about your relationship w/your current boss, you could vaguely mention his management style).

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:36 AM

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OP here-

considering we've apparently been through 20+ employees in the last 3 years (I've only been here 8 months now, and we've gone from 10 employees to 6), and from my experience trying to talk to him, I'd say no.

What's worse is that the other art director is going to be leaving soon. I'm going to be stuck here listening to my boss rant about this "ungrateful jerk who should have stayed here instead of bailing out." That's what he's said in the past. sigh.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:40 AM

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This is the 10:36 poster again. Is there a boss above him that you could talk to (maybe as a group)? Perhaps if he felt his own job was on the line, he'd straighten up...? Just another thought I had as I was thinking about your problem. BTW, this must be so frustrating & stressful for you. Do your best not to let his misery bring you down, though I know that's easier said than done.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:44 AM

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maybe you could respond to such a statement with something like, "well, i don't blame him/her. you're not very easy to work with." keep it real, even if he doesn't hear you, you will feel less bottled up and less stressed out from keeping all this inside.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:45 AM

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Hey OP, I TOTALLY feel for you. The "art director" world is known for abusive environments. Give yourself a time limit, and stick to it. Stay there as long as you need to so that you get the credibility to go out on your own or to say that you worked there. When you have a firm date in mind that you're leaving, it makes the day to day job easier.

For those who are suggestion to go to another boss and tell them, it doesn't work in this field. It's not like elementary school where you can go tell the teacher. You have to deal with it on your own.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:47 AM

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I'm the one who had asked about another boss. While I don't have any experience in the art director field, I was just brainstorming possibilities for the OP. I was certainly considering this as a last resort (while elementary kids consider it the first resort!), since it sounds like the OP has tried most everything else.

I don't want to sound defensive, but I just wanted to explain where I'm coming from on this one.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:52 AM

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Sometimes I get frustrated with a boss or coworker whom I cannot correct. My strategy is to imagine myself picking up a 50-pound fish (usually a sawfish, but occasionally a halibut) and smacking that person several times with it about the head and shoulders. Doesn't correct any long-term problems but it sure does help me get throught the day.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 10:56 AM

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here's an interesting article from cnn about how do deal with your type of situation...

Link

Friday, October 27, 2006, 11:00 AM

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I know how incredibly stressful it is to have an abusive boss, and I admire your attempts to remain professional in your behavior. My best hint until you can change jobs is to find a copy of the book The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense by Suzette Haden Elgin. It literally changed my life. Once I could see the verbal patterns of abusive speech, then I understood how to answer or not answer, and I felt better about myself. Good luck and keep us posted on how things are going.
P.S. I just checked Barnesandnoble. com and they're currently selling the book online for $2.98.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 11:14 AM

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OP here again-

Thanks for the article- it's got some good advice. The big problem here is that he's the owner. I can catalog his actions all day long but in the end, they'd just get reported to him or his CFO, who is also his wife.

I feel like Ron Livingston in "Office Space"- what I really need is a way to just deal with this nonsense until I can get out of here, some way to keep my self esteem up and my self confidence high. Perhaps I can concentrate on running, try and break a 4 minute mile... if nothing else the heart attack that would ensue would keep me out of the office for a week or two :)

Friday, October 27, 2006, 11:17 AM

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I feel for you, I've been stuck in a similar job situation. Even if you know its not forever, putting up with it every day is such a drain.

I think you're on the right track with exercise. When I was going thru that, kick-boxing classes really saved my sanity. Nothing like throwing imaginary punches at the jerk for an hour!!!

Friday, October 27, 2006, 12:14 PM

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Funny you mention you feel like Ron Livingston from "Office Space," because I was just telling a friend the other day that I feel like Jennifer Aniston in the same movie!

The whole movie is entirely relateable to me, though.

Friday, October 27, 2006, 1:08 PM

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Sounds like you are doing all the right things by looking for other work and trying to remain professional. Maintaining your sanity through all of this seems like the only thing you can do until something else comes along. I really feel for you as I've been in similar situations. You have people here to talk to any time you need them. Try to stay positive and take positive steps toward the future. Don't let him drain you of your confidence. Keep focusing on other things that make you feel good and find new avenues for growing and learning within your field. Good luck!

Friday, October 27, 2006, 2:14 PM

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I have been dealing with this too. This book has helped a lot (see link). They discuss where people are coming from, and strategies tailor-made for particular kinds of jerks. Also I would second the suggestion to explore backup plans -- ie, a new job, a way out if things get worse. It will at least make you feel better. Also, don't forget, your job is not your life. Sometimes voting with your feet makes sense, even if it would seemingly hurt your career...

Link

Saturday, October 28, 2006, 10:16 AM

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Hostile Work Environment

Does your employer have a policy on Hostile Work Environment? Due to so many employees going "postal" in the workplace, many companies have adopted these policies.

Saturday, October 28, 2006, 6:37 PM

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Documenting is great but can you record him as well? Does he have a boss or anyone above him? If he does you need to get other employees together with documentation and recordings and bring them to his boss. But you need to have other people on your side. It doesn't sound like he agrees with you since its already been brought to his attention so you need to go over him. If you do you let it be known that you tried to talk to him about it directly but he wouldn't listen. This is what I had to do at another job. It went on for over a year and finally me and 3 other employees, armed with documentations and recordings of him went over his head. Four days later he was gone. With what is going on in the work place nowadays and lawsuits it just not worth it for several disgruntled employees to be complaining. And it is always easier to replace one instead of four. Good luck.

Saturday, October 28, 2006, 11:04 PM

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Like I said, He's the owner, so, no one to report his bad behavior to.

I'm hoping that things will get a little better soon- we're looking to hire a lot of the positions he chased away this spring, so, if nothing else, there'll be more people to shoulder the load of crap he spews...

On the plus side, my running is getting a lot faster. There's a lot of negative energy that's getting channeled into the treadmill right now.

Thursday, November 02, 2006, 11:13 AM

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