Is Your Boss a Bully? Here's How to Deal

boss bully Alina Dizik, Special to CareerBuilder

Whether you've experienced the wrath of a bullying boss or not -- it's a situation a lot of workers have or will come across in their careers. In a 2010 survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 percent of workers say they've experience bullying firsthand and an additional 15 percent have witnessed it.

Most of the time it's same-gender harassment. "A manager who is overly watchful, aggressive and unreasonable in his or her demands can be a workplace bully," explains Stacy Harris, director of human resources at Bersin & Associates, a research and advisory services firm.

Is your boss the bullying kind? Here how to deal:

Acknowledge the problem

Making excuses for your boss or blaming yourself for the problem can prevent you from moving forward in order to solve the dilemma. Taking the time to acknowledge the problem and realizing that it's out of your control is an important first step. Bullying is external and understanding that you did not invite the problem is one of the first steps, according to Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Don't let go of your self-esteem

"People who bully feel weak and vulnerable -- making other people feel small makes them feel bigger," says workplace consultant Esther Derby, president of Esther Derby Associates. With constant pressure from your boss, it can be easy to forget how difficult it can be on your psyche. Be sure to spend time with friends, family, volunteering or participating in projects at work away from your boss and department. Seeing your value outside of your bullying boss will give you more strength to address the problem.

Have a measured response

Before speaking up, it's important to really build your case. Take notes to catalog the specific incidents and find out if others have complained about this particular person. Get a well-rounded picture. Additionally, be sure to manage your own aggression or hostility. While it can be easy to act unprofessional to a bullying boss, having a measured response will help you build a stronger case. "Meeting aggression with aggression can cause the situation to spiral out of control -- you don't want to turn into a jerk to tame a jerk," Derby explains. "Accept that you can't change the person and change your response."

Present your problems to the right person

Knowing whom to turn to in the case of a bullying boss can be tricky. Unless your relationship with your boss is completely strained, it's better to do your due diligence and first let your boss know that you are unhappy with the way you're being treated. Remember to document the response in the form of an e-mail or your own notes.

If the conversation did not have the results you hoped for, it may be time to turn to someone higher up at the company. Don't start with your boss's superior, who has likely seen another side of your boss, Derby says. "Many bullies behave very differently when they aren't in a position of power, so their manager may see a very different sort of behavior from that person," she says. A human resources representative can mean another wrong turn and may simply tiptoe around the problem. "HR's job is to protect the company's interests, not the individual employee's interests," Derby says. "The higher in the management chain the abuser is, the less likely that HR will take action."

Instead, opt for the highest-ranking official that would be able to hear you out in a respectful manner. It can be difficult to find the right person, but starting with a vice president or senior manager who can have an impact on personnel issues may be your best bet.

Consider switching gears

If there's no way to work out a solution, it may be up to you to leave the company entirely, which is common for those dealing with bullying bosses. "People who have options usually leave rather than put up with a bully boss," Derby says. "Often the people who stay are the ones who are too beaten down to see other options for themselves."

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Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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i say yank there chain see what makes them go nuts i have delt with piss ants like this wait for the right monent and have one good like to make your point .i got laid off from a company i started 22 yrs ago and like usall the guys with kids trump the older guys when i went back this piss ant tryed to tell me that i was going to be in one hundred complyance with his way or else i keep his line till he went to get the boos i stood between both of them and told the owner out right that him and i started this shop and told him the line one hundred percent complyence or else he wont even look at me or talk to me . so now the boss owner trying to do a half way out the door retirement 2 month s in two months out and the two months out this piss ant is just racking this owner his son inlaw is trying to figure out whats going on and hes finally getting it after 2 yr of young guns run a major company and losing money hand over fist just one big circle jerk for 7 guys .dont play there game is the best way to deal wuiith a bully boss if i didnt have a morgage id shut the company down im waiting for the rigth time to show my hand ,get the pay check hold your breath and dont give in to it .go to the bath alot pass gas while in his work space make him repeat him self what hu what hu ask dumb questions what syr wife look like want to sell her for the night talk like you have **** loads of cash tell them that your family members are cops tell them that they smell like dope or alcohol hey theres some thing hanging out you nose when they are sceaming at you my best one is walking away while they ar e talking to me i got take a **** cus swear when you comunicate with them i use fu-k in ever sentence with my bully hes cristian that just burns him just dont ever give in cause theres always a bigger bully coming and usually the bull will be replaced or bitch slapped by the company .if it get too personal thats when you should take note s and make sure it dont go to violence remeber states will take action against company bullying and presure working it wrong and can cause health problems.

March 24 2011 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i worked for a degenerate, lying bully who was female and was a certified devious wacko..........unfortunately i was empolyed by a huge corporatation..........who did nothing to eliviate the situation and neither did the union who held hands with was nightmare and i sypmthize with anyone who is going thru similar circumstances. eeoc also did nothing............

March 19 2011 at 9:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

BAck in the day Circa 1965 I had a boss that bullied me to the point I got into a confrntation One thing escalted to another He fired me When I walked out the door I sucker punched him I though I was going to get busted but it did not happen either he had a bad attitude or it was booze talking

March 19 2011 at 7:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think this is so unfair. I too had a bullying boss and am not one to take these things lightly. I work in the property management field. I hate that I, a single working and struggling mom, who likes my job and by all account from the Board of Trustees to the Management group I worked for, thought I was doing a great job, would have to think of quitting.

Why do we have to tip toe around the bully? Why are their strategies written on how to deal? Why are there no work place initiatives for this kind of behavior just as there for teen bullying. I was suffering from high blood pressure, migraines and nausea from having to work with my bullying boss. I talked to his supervisor and this article is right, I was not heard an was told to swallow it. I am in a customer service field where there are a lot of people who feel they are in the right, even when they are obviously very wrong and I swallow a lot each day. It would be nice if my boss was sympathetic and in the trenches with me.

Eventually my bullying boss quit. Turns out, and I knew this, he was taking money from vendors for services rendered to the condo where I worked and others and was also sleeping in the laps of the Trustees, making promises he could not deliver, obtaining services, sports tickets and other inappropriate behavior from our clients.

Now all I hear is how he was an "ass" I still hold resentment for the 3 years he held me hostage and I still say that there has to be something that a person can do besides look for another job in a tough job market.

March 19 2011 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this is how you deal with the bully boss.....tell him/her to go f___ themselves. and see how they run from that confrontation. LOL

March 18 2011 at 5:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I haven't worked in over 3 years. I am a woman of colour who have worked for this company for over 10 years.

I worked in a hospital with a bully a few years ago. She was mean, spiteful and disrespectful, and would micromanage me daily, and this was on her good days. (I worked directly for the manager), or so it seems. Other workers liked me, including the manager. The manager was not able to control this coordinator. The department was a total kaos. The manager went on stress leave for a few months. While she was gone this bully had a field day with me. Eventually this included the director of the department. Stressed out to the point that I was physically ill my doctor told me not to go back to this toxic environment. He also gave me the number of a lawyer. The director, pressured me to take a leave of absence instead of stress leave. I never went back to that department.

I will never be able to work in an office, more so for anyone again. I was not fired from my job. I have impecable working skills and have never had a negative assessment on my personal file. I am now unemployed. This hospital that I used to work for have not contacted me since December 2009. At that time they offered me $10,000 if I signed a gag order. I was not to contact anyone for help, ie., human rights, occupational health, unemployment, no one. I retain a lawyer and that is all that has happened so far. Nothing. Technically I am still employed with this company, in a round about way, that is kinda hard to explain.
As for my manager, coordinator, director; the director was shown the door, the coordinater was given a desk job in another hospital, with the condition that she is not to work as a supervisor. The manager went to another department.

This is the damage done by a bully. Human resources will not support the junior worker. Instead they will apply scare tactics and pressue to see if you will buckle and then show you the door. I was fortunate that my husband was with me and attended all my meetings with HR. Their nose was out of joint, but in many ways it saved my butt.

There is VERY little help out there. Especially when you work for these large companies. They are brutal. You have no rights, no say in anything, and you are very much on your own.

March 18 2011 at 12:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Young bullies are mostly the product of the homes from where they come out of. At other times it can come from those they hang with. More often than not, these bullys suffer from low self esteem issues and need to hook up with other to make themselves feel important. "They tend to need a target" and use both power, position and favoritism to maneuver themselves about. There's usually one or more in every company...And everybody knows darn well who they are. "What's that old saying"...The one everybody dislikes the most, "Those are the ones the companies usually put in charge"

March 09 2011 at 6:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Oh, that comes as no surprise...These bullys work in packs like having a alpha dog in charge of the pack...and once they home in on someone...It's usally for a kill. Hell will be full to the brim one day with these kids of people, and then they will wonder why they ended up in such a place.

March 09 2011 at 3:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Disgusting bully Hal Brown, Director of Dining Services University of Northern Colorado.

The barely literate (understatement) departmental director with an unjustifiably fat salary paid by the taxpayers. Fits the 'bully boss' description to a tee, very charming to those not under his thumb, a corrupt, intimidating and self serving nightmare to many he held power over. More than once I saw other employees literally in tears over his abuses.

A UNC graduate who couldn't pass a high school english exam to save his life. After 'graduating' (what a joke, shame on you UNC) he was given a job at UNC in part because he was 'dating' the alcoholic daughter (Marlene Olin) of a higher up in Dining Services. Marlene also worked for Dining Services & was frequently visibly drunk on the job, for over 20 years, I saw & smelled it myself first hand many times, even complained to HR with her in the room with no result. Marlene was also given a high paid cushy job, she was a mean spirited bully herself, nobody would ever do anything.

The entire culture there was horribly intimidating, unit managers such as Ann Rose were equally venomous, the good/reasonable ones tended to be passed over, demoted, run off, or fired. Hal was told by assistant VP Bob Hetzel... right in front of me + other witnesses, that Hal could do anything he wanted to me, and then (illegally) prohbited me from filing a complaint with the next guy up the chain, who was Bob Hetzel himself. Hal embraced that & set himself on a mission to make my life miserable. He routinely sabatoged my leave requests, once tried to trump up an insanely absurd sexual harassment charge (I raised some hell over that one), never provided me with the needed resources to do my job while most others got them, & then of course complained about the inevitable result. Intentionally buried me in endlessly redundant paperwork, placed me in needlessly dangerous workplace situations, assigned demeaning inappropraite tasks... you name it no matter how outrageous he got away with it, this is just a tiny fraction.

I never capitulated & was in many cases able to get him to back off. I was wise to document most of this crap so NONE of his disgusting trumped-up garbage ever once stuck, but it was relentless and took an enormous emotional toll, affecting me deeply on and off the job. I borrowed a large sum of money to take an early retirement, huge lifelong financial implications for me. it was either that or jump off a bridge... or hire a hit man (joking). For 20 years I was consistently polite, professional & punctual, always performed at a very high level... it made no difference. I'm bright, competent, resourceful & ethical, he was clearly intimidated by all those things that he wasn't, with heavy emphisis on ethical.

All is 100% accurate and very, very well documented... wanna rumble? Bring all the lawyers you want. I'll be pleased to raise a BIG public stink.

March 09 2011 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

I was in teaching for 36 years. My last 8 years were underr the leadership of a bully. She was well known for this behavior throughout the District. As a leader in the Teachers Association I had delt with her in defense of other teachers over the years she was in the District. At one time we also lived in the same Condo development. I kept copious notes on a calendar of every call to her office I received, kept copies of all communications and made notes of all the activities of her cohorts--like stealing my keys so that the bully could take my classroom keys to limit my access to my room. I was denied permission to be in my classroom after 4:00pm and my daughter was denied permission to come on campus. I kept notes on everything and finally filed Harassment charges against the bully and the District. I won but elected to take retirement because I knew the bully well enough to know that even though I would be at a different school, she would still continue her bullying and make my life as miserable as she could. I never really knew her reason but I know that she wanted me to leave so that she could hired 2 new teachers that she could control. My students went to the next grade with all the skills they needed, in the 13 subject areas CA required me to teach, to be successful there. This happened in 1998. I was a great teacher then and still am today. Bullies do not do well with me. I get them every time and I do it quietly.

March 09 2011 at 3:32 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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