By Linnda Durre, Ph.D., Author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace – Protect Yourself Against Co-workers Bosses and Work Environments That Poison Your Day published by McGraw Hill, February 19, 2010.
As a business and corporate consultant and psychotherapist, I’ve analyzed, worked with, and consulted with many difficult bosses over the years. In order to cope and deal with them, you need to know why they act the way they do and how best to deal with them, in order to earn their respect, get things accomplished, change negative situations to positive ones, and preserve your sanity.
In my column, I will help you cope with a different type of boss, whether male or female. And remember – all of these toxic bosses in all of my columns can be of either gender. Toxicity does not discriminate according to the sexes. The previous ones include: Dick the Dictator, Bashia the Backstabber, Sewell the Sexual Harasser, Carl the Control Freak, Paula the Passive Aggressive, Clayton the Clueless, Greta the Gossip, Susie the Sugar Coater, Ian the Idea Stealer, Al the Alcoholic, Nancy the Narcissist, Donald the Deal Maker,Vernon the Verbal Attacker, Bobby the Boss’s Relative, Cynthia the Silent Treatment Torturer, Phil the Philanderer, Ned the Negligent, Sal the Slave Driver, Porter the Political Soap Boxer, Michael the Micromanager, Wade the One Upper, Betty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the Phony, Peter the Pig, Bill the Big Picture Boss, Dan the Detail Boss, Ellery the Yeller, Sandy the Snob, Blaine the Blamer, Winnie the Whiner, Eric the Erratic, and Hy the Hider.
Christine the Cruel is your boss and she does nasty and mean things to you without any reason, which constantly surprise, shock, infuriate, and hurt you. You find she has revoked your planned vacation with the excuse that they might need you for an upcoming project. Your attendance at your son’s soccer game has to be cancelled because she gives you a last minute project and you have to stay and use the firm’s database that you can’t access from home. On your wedding anniversary for which you made expensive dinner reservations months ago, she tells you have an urgent report due on her desk in the morning. Everything you hold near and dear will be taken away from you or threatened in some way by Christine — from your parking place, lunch hour, home life, children, spouse, raises, promotions, contacts, colleagues, and friends.
She delights in torturing you, hurting your feelings, and alienating you from your co-workers and higher ups with behaviors that are ruthless, harmful, and evil. She likes to hurt, thwart, derail, and make fun of you and others, and she does this behind your back and in front of others.
You never know when and how she will strike. Working for Christine is like walking through a land mine field. An explosion could happen at any second. You’ve begun to have similar symptoms of PTSD – Post-traumatic stress disorder – nightmares, insomnia, eating disorders, anxiety, fears, phobias, depression, crying spells, suicidal ideation, fatigue, and hopelessness, just to name a few. Your spouse and family are worried about you.
Christine the Cruel might have been an abused child – physical, mental, emotional, and/or sexual abuse may have played a big part in her childhood. She is angry, nasty, and sees the world as a dangerous place. The irony is she is part of the danger. She is going to “get you before you get her.” So she is an offensive damage machine and justifies her behavior on you as a perceived threat. No matter what you may say or do, she looks at life as a chess game and she acts like she’s Bobby Fischer who HAS to win. She will outsmart you with her cunning.
You act like an abused child – you think if you just keep your room (desk) clean and finish your homework (reports), Christine won’t be malevolent to you. NOT SO! She will come up with even more bizarre plots to humiliate you. There is nothing you can do to win with her because she is a malicious, spiteful, heartless, and sadistic person who likes to hurt, scare, threaten, and intimidate others.
Christine operates from a win/lose philosophy where she always wins and her aim is for you to always lose.
There are several options when you have Christine for a boss:
1) If the higher ups are on to her, there is a possibility they will fire her. You can appeal to them. But remember, she is so crafty that she may have blackmail information on them and they simply won’t let her go because she knows too much. She may also have dirt on the HR Director who will also be powerless to do anything as well.
2) If her own boss isn’t intimidated or scared of her, go to them. But remember, she may know things about her own boss that she can use for her own job security so she can’t be fired.
3) If the entire company, including your own boss, is full of Christines, then you will need to get out, find another job, and leave as quickly as possible. The Christines of the world are like cockroaches – they have been here for centuries, are clever, street fighting, dirty bugs who will outsmart you at every turn.
4) Your best bet is to get a good letter of recommendation from someone at the company because Christine probably won’t give you one. Leave for a new position, but line it up BEFORE you hand in your resignation.
I hope these suggestions help you deal with Christine the Cruel.
—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, national speaker, and columnist. She has hosted and co-produced two live call-in TV shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network, which was associated with Mayo Clinic and aired from Universal Orlando. She is the author of “Surviving the Toxic Workplace: Protect Yourself Against the Co-Workers, Bosses, and Work Environments That Poison Your Day” (2010 – McGraw-Hill). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com She has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by WSJ, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting or speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com and 407-739-8620.