Coping with a Toxic Boss – eBossWatch http://blog.ebosswatch.com A leading resource for evaluating potential employers Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:25:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.10 Coping with a Toxic Boss – “EDNA THE ENVIOUS” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2015/06/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-edna-the-envious/ Fri, 05 Jun 2015 02:20:16 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=17538 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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, Hy the Hider, Christine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger,Denny the Distorter, Orin the Orator, Snyder the Sniper, Virgil the Virtual Boss, Aggie the Agreer. and Delia the Delicate Flower.

Edna the Envious has you as her target. She is envious of you and she can make your life a living inferno. I had a boss once who had her Masters Degree, but she still had not finished her doctorate. She was envious of me and my Ph.D. and she made my life very difficult. In addition to being a full time faculty member, I also continued my private practice and I would see clients around my teaching schedule and on weekends. She gave me various classes to sub for without asking if I had the time available. She put me on committees for which I had no expertise. Fellow faculty members who needed a sub for their classes asked me to sub for them and at times, Edna would disallow it. She was mean-spirited, petty, and vicious.

When I found and bought a used Mercedes at a bargain rate, she was envious of that. She made remarks to co-workers about my car. She made remarks about my office, which I shared with a fellow faculty member. There was no pleasing her because her game was to “one-up me” or “one down me,” depending on her perspective.

I was frustrated and angry. You may feel the same way when you have a boss who feels threatened by you in some way – your degree, your good looks, your car, your connections, your personality – whatever it is. They want what you have or they want to be who you are. So the green-eyed monster raises its ugly head and you have to deal with it.

EXPLANATION

Envy comes from feelings of insecurity, resentment, and anger. Envious people want what you have – your material things or your personality traits or want to be as thin as you are or as handsome or as pretty as you are – and they don’t think they can get those things themselves. Instead of using their energy to get what they covet – like making more money, losing weight, buying the things they want, changing their personality – they spread rumors, make snide remarks, or use their power over you to make your life difficult. They are irrational and sometimes do very crazy things in their effort to cover over their inner depths of inadequacy and self-hatred.

The Chinese proverb that best sums this up is: “Some people feel taller by cutting other people’s heads off.”

They hope you will quit or at least transfer to another department so you will be out of their way and not be a threat to their position. Many times their job is all they have in their lives. Many are divorced or in unhappy marriages. They have children from whom they are estranged and they have few real friends. Is it any wonder why they are such miserable people?!

My boss was suspicious that I would take over her job. That was the last thing I wanted – sitting behind a desk doing endless stacks of paperwork or attending monotonous committee meetings that drone on and on with little or no progress. How boring! But she thought I was on a campaign to unseat her. No matter how many times I diplomatically told her administrative position was not on my goal list in life, she didn’t hear what I said. All I wanted to do was teach, but she didn’t believe me. Her own fears made her immune to the reality of the situation.

She was racing to finish her doctorate to insure her job security, thinking that earning her Ph.D. would be her eternal safeguard for her job. I tried to compliment her on her tenacity, sharing stories from my own graduate years about the joy of completion, but she didn’t want to hear any emotionally supportive statements from my lips, and she ignored me. I did my job, got my assignments in on time, and did my best to stay out of her path.

With an Edna, it always feels like a no-win situation. She plays a chess game where she always says “Check.” The SOLUTION section can give you a few ways you can deal with her.

SOLUTION

Since there are legal issues involved that could deal with “a hostile work environment,” make sure you keep accurate records. Put EVERYTHING IN WRITING. You must create a paper trail when dealing with Edna the Envious or if you yourself are an Edna. This is important in the business, and even the personal world, to avoid misunderstanding, law suits, and wasting time, money and energy. Clear, frequent, and honest communication is crucial to productive, lucrative, successful companies and human relationships. More about creating a paper trail later and keep this in mind while you continue reading.

As I mentioned in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace (McGraw Hill), “calling a process shot” on Edna the Envious is one of the best ways to deal with her. You need to decide what way(s) of handling Edna the Envious is best and most effective for you.

By definition, a process shot is describing HOW and additionally WHY someone is doing something. You describe their “process” – their method, style, hidden agendas, rationale, and how they come across to you. This is similar to putting a pin in a balloon. They are “busted” – called out, identified, pinpointed (excuse the pun) as to their sneaky motivation and style for getting what they want. You’ve identified their evil side, and they won’t like it one bit because they honestly think they can get away with it and that you’re too stupid or naïve to notice or pick it up intuitively.

Use your Emotional Intelligence (a great book and great title, by the way by Daniel Goleman), and call a process shot – tell the Ednas of the world that you are aware of their envy and sabotage and that you want a win/win solution so everyone is happy.

If your boss is an Edna, I would recommend being very tactful. If you go to a more direct approach, be prepared to lose your job! For an Edna who is your boss, this might be appropriate: “Edna, I know you are getting your doctorate and I already have one. You may feel at a disadvantage. I am no threat to your job no matter what you may believe. I am here to teach and that’s all I want to do. I feel you try to make my life difficult so I will quit. I’d like to have a good working relationship. How can we make this into a win/win for both of us?”

If you are stuck with Edna the Envious, here are some suggestions:

1) Diplomatically tell her you do not want her job and put it in writing. You should cc the letter to her boss, and her boss’s boss. Cover your back and create a paper trail. You may need to outline how difficult she has made your job with extensive examples.

2) You may also want to contact HR as well. Usually HR is the tool of the company or corporation so they may not be very helpful, although there are exceptions and there are some very responsive HR departments.

3) If you’re a union member, contacting the union’s attorney and legal department can save money since you won’t have to pay for an attorney. Let them write the letter and threaten them with “hostile work environment” charges.

4) Make and appointment and go directly to her boss to explain the situation, restating that you do not want her job. Give him a copy of your letter in case his admin assistant has convenient lost it or deleted it from his emails. Many times bosses do not receive important documents because of office politics, bribery, or extortion. Or they themselves conveniently throw it away or claim they never received it.

5) Ignore her snide remarks and vicious rumors

6) Confront the snide remarks and vicious rumors in a letter and cc it to co-workers and her boss and her boss’s boss.

7) Confront her directly that her envy is getting in the way of a pleasant working relationship and tell her to stop the snide remarks and rumor spreading. Bring a copy of your letter with you.

8) If your company has an ombudsman or a mediation department, ask for an appointment, tell them what the issues are, and schedule a mediation session or two to resolve it with Edna.

If none of these approaches work, you can go to the district manager or other higher ups.

If that fails, you may want to use the media as another option. Most TV and radio stations and newspapers have a consumer alert reporter or department. This is their job. But they may see it as a petty office spat and ignore it. If Edna is doing this to other co-workers, you may have more evidence for a stronger case of “hostile work environment” charges against her.

As I mentioned previously in this column, creating a paper trail is crucial. You can do this by sending letters and emails; have witnesses who will send supporting letters and/or who will go with to you to HR to make reports and complaints; you and your witnesses should always send certified, return receipt letters so you know they received them and/or deliver it to the boss, HR, boss’s boss, etc. with a witness, or have them served by a process server if and when you take it to court; call an attorney with experience in business and employment law and have them write letters to the company – make sure they are certified, return receipt letters so you know Edna and the company received them.

Remember – according to attorneys, you can use voice mail messages from Edna and/or other witnesses, employees, the company, etc., as admissible evidence in a court case. So save ALL your voice mail messages on a separate tape that you keep in your safety deposit box. Make copies and play them for your attorney, making sure they have a copy for the law case, one for the judge, the jury, and the opposing attorney.

Be prepared to be fired or, if you decide to stay, you’ll probably be given a very difficult time by any of the Ednas and/or higher ups in the company who probably hope you quit. They would most likely prefer not to fire you because then that makes the company responsible to paying you unemployment, which they will initially contest and fight. They also do not want you to file a law suit. You may want to have another job lined up just in case or plan to start your own business by yourself with backers and/or with friends.

Get copies of your proof lined up when you make your complaint, with or without your attorney – preferably with your attorney present. And keep the originals in a safety deposit box at your bank and/or your safe at home.

I hope this column assists you in dealing with all types of Edna the Envious!

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—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network (AHN), 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com Dr. Durre’ has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and on the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Management Issues, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com.

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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “DELIA THE DELICATE FLOWER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2014/10/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-delia-the-delicate-flower/ Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:22:55 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=16915 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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, Hy the Hider, Christine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger,Denny the Distorter, Orin the Orator, Snyder the Sniper, Virgil the Virtual Boss, and Aggie the Agreer.

SITUATION

Having had requests on this topic, I’m writing this column for those who are Delicate Flowers, as well as for those who have one for a boss and/or a co-worker.  Delia the Delicate Flower complains about bright lights, odors, noise, and anything that is too much for her sensitivity to handle.

There are usually two types of Delia the Delicate Flower – 1) one that truly has a high level of sensitivity to odors, fragrances, light, noise, chemicals, certain foods, medicine, fluorescent lights, negativity from people and environments, and other influences and 2) the person who milks it to get attention and uses high sensitivity to get out of deadlines and job responsibilities.

Delia can have sneezing attacks from someone’s aftershave, perfume, or cleaning supplies; if others wear headphones and play music, Delia can hear it and can get headaches and even migraines from the music and/or from harsh fluorescent lights, too much daylight, loud noises, as well as the lawn edgers, mowers, and leaf blowers from the gardeners working outside.   Whatever puts her on overload qualifies.

Delia the Delicate Flower can be a difficult person to have as a boss or as a co-worker, especially if you’re sitting next to or near her. Regardless, you may be caught in a no win situation with her.  You may not use any perfume, but she can smell your shampoo, body soap, or hand lotion and it may give her a sneezing attack. She may not like certain bright colors and ask you to wear dark colors or pastels. If you play music on your headphones, don’t sing or hum along with the songs because it will annoy her.  You may feel that no matter what you do, you can’t please Delia or stop her allergic attacks.

Many bosses in the work place have no patience or time to deal with such sensitivity. Corporations and businesses are geared to make money with very little concern for the health or lives of their employees. Not all corporations are like this, however, and there are some truly excellent companies and businesses to work for that are pleasant and have positive environments.  Many understand hypersensitivity and do what they can to assist the Delias of the workplace.

“Delicate flowers” should have protection by the company, but that is very rare.  They would rather hire someone else to do the job who has no health constraints or limits. Sometimes the boss or company can be forced to make accommodations if they have been found to have “a hostile work environment.”

“Delicate flowers” have to learn to protect and shield themselves. They need to be PROACTIVE and find viable solutions for a win/win with the company.

If you’re a Delia, you do have options and you must also be assertive about getting your needs met and protecting yourself, as well as reaching a satisfactory solution with the company.

EXPLANATION

Why are there Delias in the world?  Some people are simply born with hypersensitivity to stimuli – light, odors, fragrances, noise, and “negative vibes”. It may be how their brain and/or nervous system is/are wired.  They may have food allergies. They may refrain from alcohol and drugs because of their high levels of sensitivity.  Do not force them to have a drink at a business lunch in a restaurant or at the company picnic or party.  Many highly sensitive people may have joined AA or other 12 Step Groups and are committed to their sobriety, so be understanding at all levels.  Try to make it a win/win solution for all involved.

The Type 2 of Delia the Delicate Flower – whether a boss or a co-worker – is the one who milks it and uses it as an excuse to be absent and to avoid meeting deadlines and job responsibilities.  Some “delicate flowers” use their high sensitivity as a constant excuse.  Some traits they may display include:

1) They do not finish their work and/or they work slowly, which can slow the entire department.

2) They are chronically late and/or absent because of sickness.

3) They constantly complain and talk about their ailments to others.

4) They make life miserable for their co-workers and bosses.

5) They play martyr and try to make people feel sorry for them.

6) They act like a victim and set people up to continue their “victim script.”

7) They blame others for causing their condition.

8) They stay stuck in their own “pity party” and do not seek a cure or help for their ailments or a workable solution at the office.

9) They feel sorry for themselves and/or they guilt trip other people.

10) They attempt to make other people responsible for their plight.

11) They may take the company to court when it MAY not be the company’s fault and they just want someone to blame and/or they want to make money in a law suit.

If the company is negligent and/or is putting people in toxic situations by exposing them to dangerous chemicals, etc., then by ALL means, the company should be taken to court, reported to OSHA, and/or exposed through the media, etc.  if you’re a Delia and that is the case, then find an attorney specializing in employment law and file a law suit.  This situation may be similar to disabled workers needing on ramps, bathrooms with toilets and sinks that are accessible, large elevators, etc. Certain accommodations must be made.

SOLUTION

If you are a Delia, I hope you can and will find a win/win situation for yourself.  If not, it will be painful for you – financially, physically, and psychologically.   Take responsibility for your condition and see that a win/win solution can work.  Be open minded and creative in your thinking to arrange your workplace environment so that you and your employees/co-workers are comfortable.

Here are some suggestions for your work situation:

1) Wear earplugs, sunglasses, baseball caps and hats with visors to lessen noise and harsh light.  Reading glasses that are also sunglasses are helpful and can be found at the Dollar Store or Dollar Tree or 99c Store for only a dollar.  They are called, “Sun Readers.” You may also want to have a pair specially made for yourself by your optician. You can also bring in desk lamps or standing lamps, instead of dealing with fluorescent lighting.

2) Work from home and use Skype for meetings and/or put your phone on speaker at a low volume.  Buy headphones that have a volume control button.

3) Isolate yourself as best you can in your office. Find an empty space or an unused desk in a distant corner.  Or find an office to work in and tell the boss you need to move or switch places with a co-worker. I heard of someone who converted a large closet for her office. There were no windows of course, but it worked for her.  See if any are available.

4) Band together with other highly sensitive people (if there are any) in your company and request/demand a separate wing or section of the office just for all of you without fluorescent lights, odors, loud noises and music, etc. Bring in lamps and other things to lessen the overwhelming stimuli.

5) If the conditions are dangerous or in violation of the law, notify your boss, the Operations Manager and/or HR.  If they do nothing to change it, then take it to OSHA and file a complaint.

6) Hire an experienced employment attorney by yourself or with others to request or demand your rights.  You may not have a case. If you can prove “hostile work environment” that might work, but it might not.  Perhaps they will correct the situation.

On a personal level, if you’re a Delia the Delicate Flower, here are some suggestions to undertake by yourself to handle the hypersensitivity:

1) There may be serious health issues that a highly sensitive person has. Finding holistic and alternative medicine practitioners that Western medicine MDs may miss can be the solution.  Ask friends, neighbors, and relatives of holistic practitioners they know and had good results with and go to them.  Go online, find and go to a licensed, qualified, holistic practitioner and/or alternative medicine doctor who will help you combat and rid yourself of your own afflictions, allergies, and ailments.

2) Go to a licensed nutritionist or allergy specialist.  See if you have an allergy or allergies to certain foods or substances.

3) Take vitamins and supplements in a program designed for your body and health needs by a licensed professional.

4) Get massages by a licensed massage therapist.

5) Soak in hot or warm tubs, take frequent showers, soak in mineral and healing waters at a spa if you can afford to go.

6) Go to a licensed acupuncturist.

7)  Go to a licensed chiropractor.

8) Go to a licensed/certified naturopath.

9) Exercise, get a trainer to design a program for you personally and/or in a gym or health club or YMCA.

10) Meditate, pray, do yoga, and start visualizing. Read “Visualization” by Adelaide Bry and other books on the topic.

11) Read and any and all books by Dr. Elaine Aron who wrote “The Highly Sensitive Person” and related books.  Here is her link on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=elaine+aron&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aelaine+aron

12) Read anything and everything written by Louise Hay especially, “You Can Heal Your Life” and do the accompanying workbook, and also anything by Bernie Siegel, MD, who wrote “Love, Medicine and Miracles.”  Anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Napoleon Hill, Andrew Weil, MD, and many other authors can also be helpful.

What is the best way to deal with the company in a situation like this?  First, since there are legal issues involved that could deal with “a hostile work environment,” make sure you keep accurate records.  Put EVERYTHING IN WRITING. You must create a paper trail when dealing with Delia the Delicate Flower or if you yourself are a Delia.  This is important in the business, and even the personal world, to avoid misunderstanding, law suits, and wasting time, money and energy.  Clear, frequent, and honest communication is crucial to productive, lucrative, successful companies and human relationships. More about creating a paper trail later and keep this in mind while you continue reading.

As I mentioned in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace (McGraw Hill), “calling a process shot” on Delia the Delicate Flower is one of the best ways to deal with her.  You need to decide what way(s) of handling Delia the Delicate Flower is best and most effective for you.

By definition, a process shot is describing HOW and additionally WHY someone is doing something.  You describe their “process” – their method, style, hidden agendas, rationale, and how they come across to you.  This is similar to putting a pin in a balloon. They are “busted” – called out, identified, pinpointed (excuse the pun) as to their sneaky motivation and style for getting what they want.  You’ve identified their evil side, and they won’t like it one bit because they honestly think they can get away with it and that you’re too stupid or naïve to notice or pick it up intuitively.  Use your Emotional Intelligence (a great book and great title, by the way by Daniel Goleman), and call a process shot – tell the Delias of the world that you are aware of their hypersensitivity and that you want a win/win solution so everyone is happy.

If your boss is a Delia, I would recommend being very tactful.  If you go to a more direct approach, be prepared to lose your job!  For a Delia who is your boss, this might be appropriate:  “Delia, I know you have a high sensitivity to odors, lights, noise, colors, and other issues.  I’d like to know how I can best deal with it to protect you and so you don’t start sneezing or getting a headache.  Please let me know. Tell me what you prefer from me so that we can both have a good working environment.  How can we make this into a win/win for both of us?”

For a Delia who is a co-worker, this might work best:  “Delia, I know you have a high sensitivity to odors, lights, noise, colors, and other issues.  I’d like to know how I can best deal with it to protect you and so you don’t start sneezing or getting a headache.  Please let me know. I’d also like to discuss other creative solutions with you, like you working from home and online and using Skype for meetings.  How can we make this into a win/win for both of us?”

For a Type 2 Delia who is a co-worker, something like this might be in order:  “Delia, I know you have a high sensitivity to odors, lights, noise, colors and other issues.  I’m sure that is can be painful.  Sometimes I feel that you really milk it for sympathy and to get out of your work responsibilities; and that you also like to blame the office or people for your condition.  Perhaps you could work from home and Skype for meetings.  I’d like to know how I can best deal with it so you don’t start sneezing or getting a headache.  Please let me know. If you are that overwhelmed, I really suggest that you seek medical help, perhaps from holistic, alternative medicine doctors.  You may want to find a job or a career where you can totally work from home.  Or you may be able to do that with this current job.  How can we make this into a win/win for both of us?”

If none of these approaches work, you can go to Delia’s boss and/or Delia’s boss’s boss and/or district manager.  You may also want to contact HR as well.  Usually HR is the tool of the company or corporation so they may not be very helpful, although there are exceptions and there are some very responsive HR departments.

If you’re a union member, contacting the union’s attorney and legal department can save money since you won’t have to pay for an attorney.

Simultaneously you could also alert OSHA and EEOC and/or any other higher authority to get their attention and have the situation resolved.  If it is a dangerous situation, like faulty plumbing, electricity, building code violations, poisonous gases, and other issues, contact the police, County and State building inspectors as well and any other government agencies.

If you’re a Delia the Delicate Flower and you feel the company is ignoring your needs despite your repeated requests and that they are making the workplace even more toxic by exposing you to dangerous chemicals, odors, lights, etc., then contact an attorney and have them send a letter of demand to correct the situation. That usually gets the attention of the company and HR.  They do not want a law suit or negative publicity and are more apt to settle out of court.

If that fails, you may want to use the media as another option. Most TV and radio stations and newspapers have a consumer alert reporter or department.  This is their job.

As I mentioned previously in this column, creating a paper trail is crucial. You can do this by sending letters and emails; have witnesses who will send supporting letters and/or who will go with to you to HR to make reports and complaints; you and your witnesses should always send certified, return receipt letters so you know they received them and/or deliver it to the boss, HR, boss’s boss, etc. with a witness, or have them served by a process server if and when you take it to court; call an attorney with experience in business and employment law and have them write letters to the company – make sure they are certified, return receipt letters so you know Delia and the company received them.

Remember – according to attorneys, you can use voice mail messages from Delia and/or other witnesses, employees, the company, etc., as admissible evidence in a court case. So save ALL your voice mail messages on a separate tape that you keep in your safety deposit box.  Make copies and play them for your attorney, making sure they have a copy for the law case, one for the judge, the jury, and the opposing attorney.

Be prepared to be fired or, if you decide to stay, you’ll probably be given a very difficult time by any of the Delias and/or higher ups in the company who probably hope you quit. They would most likely prefer not to fire you because then that makes the company responsible to paying you unemployment, which they will initially contest and fight. They also do not want you to file a law suit. You may want to have another job lined up just in case or plan to start your own business by yourself with backers and/or with friends.

Get copies of your proof lined up when you make your complaint, with or without your attorney – preferably with your attorney present.  And keep the originals in a safety deposit box at your bank and/or your safe at home.

I hope this column assists you in dealing with all types of Delia the Delicate Flower!  And if you’re a Delia yourself, I hope these suggestions are helpful to you!

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—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network (AHN), 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com Dr. Durre’ has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and on the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Management Issues, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com.

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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “AGGIE THE AGREER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2014/06/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-aggie-the-agreer/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2014/06/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-aggie-the-agreer/#comments Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:31:21 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=16907 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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, Hy the Hider, Christine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger,Denny the Distorter, Orin the Orator, Snyder the Sniper, and Virgil the Virtual Boss.

SITUATION

There are usually four types of Aggie the Agreers, and they all share the same passive-aggressive, overriding, and dysfunctional trait – agreeing with you and then a) doing nothing, b) doing variations of exactly what you didn’t want, need, or ask for, or c) doing the exact opposite of what you asked her to do!  Dealing with Aggie the Agreer is frustrating and you want to scream. However, you must be diplomatic when dealing with Aggie, unless you don’t care, have another job lined up, and/or have decided to be fired or to quit in order to work for yourself or at another position.  If you have nothing to lose, then speak your truth. If you would rather maintain and not burn your bridges, be diplomatic and tactful. If my suggestions help, I’m pleased.

For easier identification, I have delineated the four types of this dysfunctional boss:

Aggie the Agreer #1 – warm, compassionate, caring, yet weak and ineffectual;

Aggie the Agreer #2 – cold,  lacking compassion, giving lip service, weak and ineffectual;

Aggie the Agreer #3 – feigning warmth and compassion, giving lip service, and sociopathic;

Aggie the Agreer #4 – cold, lacking compassion, giving lip service, and sociopathic.

Aggie the Agreer #1 usually nods, exudes total warmth, understanding, kindness, and compassion in agreeing with and comprehending you and your plight, pain, complaints, suggestions, anger, outrage, and/or demands for corrections. You walk out of the office feeling totally relieved, understood, and you believe she will remedy the situation immediately if not soon, just the way you asked for and how you want it to be. But Aggie disappoints you because she  a) usually does NOTHING to help remedy the situation or b) does variations of exactly what you didn’t want or c) does the exact opposite of what you asked!  This is because she is ineffectual, dominated by her own boss and/or the higher ups, and is weak.

Aggie the Agreer #2 has no warmth and compassion like Aggie #1;  she has a tone like a robot with a computer chip –  she sounds like “a Stepford employee” – programmed to state company policy with no caring, heart, passion, or concern, just like a telemarketer reading from a script. You know that she really could care less about you and your complaints.  This is because she is ineffectual, dominated by her own boss and/or the higher ups, and is weak, just like Aggie # 1.

She drones on and on, faking interest and concern, sounding like a bad and dull textbook version of an “Active Listening” seminar on Client-Centered Therapy, delivered by an ersatz Rogerian.  Dr. Carl Rogers, genius and founder of that revolutionary psychotherapy theory and practice, would be rolling over in his grave to hear such falseness and lack of genuine, unconditional positive regard.  [I had the honor and pleasure of meeting Dr. Rogers, and I gave seminars at his Center for the Study of Person in La Jolla, California, the town where I practiced for 19 years.]

Regardless of the delivery – compassionate warmth or computer chip  – Aggie #1 and Aggie # 2 are weak and ineffectual with no back bone. Both of them can be total wimps, with a persona like vanilla pudding – bland and neutral.  Depending on her is like building a house on sand.  There’s no foundation!  She will let you down constantly.  You will feel betrayed, frustrated, angry, upset, and even want to cry.

That happens because your expectations for her are to deliver normal, actionable results, but that is unrealistic for someone as weak as she is.  Aggie #1 and Aggie #2 may feel torn, emotionally paralyzed, and guilty – or she may just wimp out and hide – but she can’t and she won’t make the right decision, even when what you are asking may be totally reasonable, rational, logical, and helpful to you, others, and the company in general.

As a result, you have set yourself up for disappointment.  But don’t take it too personally because this is usually a repeating pattern that Aggie has with mostly everyone.  Fighting with her is like punching marshmallows.  You just waste your precious energy, feel exhausted, and nothing changes.  How she remains employed, no less has risen to the level of a boss, is anyone’s guess.  She may be a company “token” and/or she may be having or had a personal and/or sexual relationship with a higher up.  Who knows?!

Now we get to Aggie the Agreer # 3 and #4:  Aggie the Agreer #3 is the sociopathic type who has warmth like Aggie #1, but it’s totally phony.  She is warm and only agreeing with you to charm you, disarm you, divert you, get you on her side, get you out of her office, set you up, drive you crazy, and/or destroy you.  Aggie # 3 can be an expert actor in her Oscar performances as she feigns sympathy, empathy, compassion, and gets you to believe she is sincere and that she truly cares.  She does not!  She’s usually a psychopath!

Aggie the Agreer #4 is the sociopathic type like Aggie # 3, and she also has no warmth and a voice like a computer chip, similar to Aggie the Agreer #2.   Aggie #4 is probably hoping that her dull and uncaring tone will give you the message to get out of her office.  She will agree with you, but she will only set you up, drive you crazy, and/or destroy you.  Aggie # 4 is far from an expert actor because she has no emotions.  She may think her stilted, canned words and flat affect convey sympathy, empathy, compassion, but they do not.  She’s usually a psychopath, too, only not the charming, affable kind – just the cold-blooded, plotting kind.

In reality, Aggie #3 and Aggie #4 both operate on their own agenda and they have no genuine concern about you or anyone else.   Aggie #3 and Aggie #4 are usually ruthless, ladder climbing psychopaths, who have no guilt, no conscience, and no remorse.  Both of them are very devious, deceptive, and Machiavellian.  Be very careful of them because they can be lethal, untrustworthy, and dangerous. These types of Aggies usually are very premeditated, calculating types and are capable of great harm, malfeasance, and even murder.  See my previous columns on the Smiling Cobra in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace.

EXPLANATION

The psychological and childhood origins that cause a person to become any of the four types of Aggie the Agreer can be complex and varied.

One scenario is that they may have had a domineering, angry, yelling parent. Perhaps they had a mentally and/or physically abusive father and/or mother who scared them witless. Aggie learned to never disagree, express an opinion, or stand up for herself.  When she was a child or teen, she probably scuttled away silently, while giving lip service, just to shut her parents up and escape from their wrath.

Underneath, Aggie #1 and even Aggie #2 are probably terrified of any confrontation and they agree out of sheer survival, because to disagree means emotional annihilation.  Aggie’s survival means to be compliant.  Aggie # 1 may genuinely want to help and change the situation, but she is paralyzed out of a myriad of fears.

Another psychological scenario for the root of Aggie’s inaction is that one or both of her parents may also have been shy, spineless, and frightened, and terrorized by others, so it could be a faulty role model, a repeating family pattern, and how she learned to survive. Terrified of making a mistake, she is frozen, fearing loss of her job, a demotion, a transfer, and/or being shunned, ostracized, and/or criticized.

Aggie # 3 and Aggie 4 may have had similar parents to Aggie #1 and #2. They may also have had parents who were duplicitous, sneaky, and deceptive. When they were growing up, they probably watched one or both of their parents charm and/or manipulate other people artfully to get their way and/or to destroy their enemies.  This can be the case with children of politicians, attorneys, CEOs, and others in positions of power.  These types of parents usually did not instill ethics, morals, or solid values in their child(ren) because they probably did not have any themselves.

Aggie #3 learned how effective that style was to handle anything she didn’t like or that got in her way. Usually at first, Aggie #3 can be very diplomatic, tactful, and is similar to the Smiling Cobra described in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace (McGraw Hill). Aggie #3 can be charming, exude warmth and empathy – which is all a bogus act to con you – and then she does exactly what she wants.   “Con artist” doesn’t mean “convict” like I thought when I was young.  “Con” stands  for a “confidence man” (or woman),  who gains your confidence so you believe them and are easily manipulated.

Aggie #4 can be the computer chip version of Aggie # 3, who still does exactly the same nefarious deeds, only without the phony warmth. No matter which way Aggie chooses to operate, it’s a losing game for you and others.  Her cold-bloodedness is chilling and, at times, you may feel that sense of fear go up and down your spine when you are around her.  Run, do not walk, to your nearest exit.  And if you have to stay, make sure your attorney is with you.

SOLUTION

First, put EVERYTHING IN WRITING. You must create a paper trail when dealing with any of the four types of Aggie the Agreer, as you need to do with basically EVERYONE you come into contact with in the business, and even the personal world, to avoid misunderstanding, law suits, and wasting time, money and energy.  Clear, frequent, and honest communication is crucial to productive, lucrative, successful companies and human relationships. More about creating a paper trail later and keep this in mind while you continue reading.

As I mentioned in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace (McGraw Hill), “calling a process shot” on all four types of Aggie the Agreers is one of the best ways to deal with her.  You need to decide what way(s) of handling Aggie the Agreer is best and most effective for you.

By definition, a process shot is describing HOW and additionally WHY someone is doing something.  You describe their “process” – their method, style, hidden agendas, rationale, and how they come across to you.  This is similar to putting a pin in a balloon. They are “busted” – called out, identified, pinpointed (excuse the pun) as to their sneaky motivation and style for getting what they want.  You’ve identified their evil side, and they won’t like it one bit because they honestly think they can get away with it and that you’re too stupid or naïve to notice or pick it up intuitively.  Use your Emotional Intelligence (a great book and great title, by the way by Daniel Goleman), and call a process shot – tell the Aggies of the world that you are hip to their tricks and they can’t con you.  Then they may develop some respect for you. Or they may go after you even more vociferously. Right before your eyes, they can turn into the bullies that they really are underneath.  More follows.

Each type of the Aggies have several defense mechanisms when that happens: they can deny, minimize, refute, charm you over again, sweet talk you, and try to convince you to doubt your own intuition and gut reaction. They can stonewall you, walk away, order you to leave their office, get angry, yell, scream, intimidate, bully you, threaten you, pressure you to quit, fire you, drive you crazy, and do whatever it takes to win and get rid of you.  They are usually ruthless in their attempts to cover up and/or win.

Your style with each of them has to be a bit different, tailored to the different types:

With Aggie the Agreer #1, you could call a process shot and say something like this:  “Aggie, I notice that every time I come in with a complaint, you initially are very empathetic, compassionate, and you seem to know exactly what I’m feeling. You agree with me, my perceptions, and you lead me to believe you will fix the problem. So I walk out of your office thinking that you will remedy the negative situation immediately. And yet days, weeks and months go by, and you take no action to correct the situation I need assistance with. So you do nothing.  What I need is for you to stand up and correct what is a dangerous situation.  I’d rather not have to contact _______, (fill in the blank with one or more selections)  your boss/your boss’s boss/the union/the district manager, OSHA, EEOC, or my attorney to get this remedied. Please tell me what you are going to do and when or you’ll leave me no other choice but to take action by going over your head, taking legal action or even contacting the media.”   You can stop there if you like.

If you’d like to continue, adding the WHY to this conversation and why she’s avoiding taking action, would probably sound like this: “Perhaps, Aggie, you’re afraid to take a stand and make a decision because you’re protecting your job, salary, promotion, raise, reputation, or whatever.  Your lack of action is putting _______, (fill in the blank with one or more selections) me/other employees/the company/your own job at risk and you could be setting the company up for a law suit if this situation isn’t remedied immediately.”

With Aggie the Agreer #3 and #4, you can initially use a more low key approach with calling a process shot: “Aggie, I notice that every time I come to you with a complaint and/or to report a dangerous working condition, you initially agree with me, and you give me the impression that you are going to remedy the situation, yet you either do nothing or you do exactly the opposite of what I asked you to do or some variation on that theme. Why is that?”

Let her answer the question. You’ll usually get the run around, her well oiled excuse machine, or even a complete stonewall.  You may want to have your first meeting with your attorney present.

You can go to a more direct approach, but you must be prepared to lose your job!  I recommend having an attorney in the room if you start out with this next approach. You could say something like this, calling a process shot:  “Aggie, I notice that every time I come to you with a complaint and/or to report a dangerous working condition, you initially agree with me and you give the impression that you are going to remedy the situation, yet you either do nothing or you do exactly the opposite of what I asked you to do, or some variation on that theme.  I find that to be manipulative, deceptive, and I feel betrayed by your double dealings. I realize that you have absolutely no intention at all to do anything about it. You are also jeopardizing the company and I find that to be dangerous.”

Aggie the Agreer #3 and #4 are usually so psychopathic that they may have their tentacles into everything and everyone: they sometimes have, use and/or threaten to use blackmail material on others; they lie, cover her tracks, and/or have her next promotion or career move lined up.

You can go to Aggie’s boss/Aggie’s boss’s boss/the union/HR/OSHA/EEOC/the district manager and/or any other higher authority to get their attention and have the situation resolved. Usually HR is the tool of the company or corporation so they may not be very helpful, although there are exceptions and there are some very responsive HR departments.

Using the media is another option. If Aggie won’t take action on issues like racial, religious, gender, and/or sexual discrimination or sexual harassment, then you must expose and publicize negative and unfair situations that you experience by reporting it to OSHA, EEOC, the union, as well using as the media. If it is a dangerous situation, like faulty plumbing, electricity, building code violations, poisonous gases, etc., contact the police, County and State building inspectors and OSHA, and other government agencies, as well as the media.

Contacting an attorney and having them send a letter of demand to correct the situation usually gets a company and HR’s attention.  They do not want a law suit or negative publicity and are more apt to settle out of court.

As I mentioned previously in this column – Whether you are dealing with Aggie #1 , #2, #3, or #4,  ALWAYS create a paper trail by sending letters and emails; have witnesses who will send supporting letters and/or who will go with to you to HR to make reports and complaints; you and your witnesses should always send certified, return receipt letters so you know they received them and/or deliver it to the boss, HR, boss’s boss, etc. with a witness, or have them served by a process server if and when you take it to court; call an attorney with experience in business and employment law and have them write letters to the company – make sure they are certified, return receipt letters so you know Aggie and the company received them.

Remember – according to attorneys, you can use voice mail messages from Aggie and/or other witnesses, employees, the company, etc., as admissible evidence in a court case. So save ALL your voice mail messages on a separate tape that you keep in your safety deposit box.  Make copies and play them for your attorney, making sure they have a copy for the law case, one for the judge, the jury, and the opposing attorney.

Be prepared to be fired or, if you decide to stay, you’ll probably be given a very difficult time by any of the Aggies and/or higher ups in the company who probably hope you quit. They would most likely prefer not to fire you because then that makes the company responsible to paying you unemployment, which they will initially contest and fight. They also do not want you to file a law suit. You may want to have another job lined up just in case or plan to start your own business by yourself with backers and/or with friends.

Going over Aggie’s head to her boss or to her boss’s boss can be effective if you have the courage.  Perhaps the bosses do not know what she is doing.  They may even fire Aggie!  However, they may fire you. Just remember, companies circle the wagons against dissidents, whistle blowers, and truth tellers who expose the lies, deception, and corruption.  All the employees usually “have drunk the Kool-Aid,” and they can act like brainwashed cult victims, spouting “the party line” like pre-programmed robots.

As management theory states, the personality, ethics (or lack of them) and values of the founders and/or people at the top trickle down to the mail clerks and the crew on the loading dock. If the people at the top are ruthless, unethical, greedy, slick, phony, cruel, backstabbing psychopaths, then that will influence and permeate the entire company.  If the people at the top are ethical, kind, fair, have high expectations for performance, provide excellent service and products, and treat their employees with respect and dignity, then the entire company will reflect that as well.

As the expression goes, “Each person only cares about the rice in their bowl.”  Every employee usually has a rent or mortgage payment, car and car insurance payments, some have kids in college, and their list of bills and expenses goes on. Most people will not stick their neck out for you or anyone else.  Get copies of your proof lined up when you make your complaint, with or without your attorney – preferably with your attorney present.  And keep the originals in a safety deposit box at your bank and/or your safe at home.

Once I wrote a letter of support for a colleague once when they had a very reasonable demand for fairness from the company which acted egregiously.  My colleague was shocked, surprised, and grateful that I would be brave enough to stand up to the company, write a letter, and agree to be a witness against the company if it came to a trial.  My response was, “I have to sleep at night and I have to look at myself in the mirror, and what was done to you was unfair. I’ll do whatever it takes to support you in rectifying it.”  And yes, I was jeopardizing my own future at the company.  But a principle is a principle.  My colleague eventually was proven in the right against the company after a long, drawn out process.  As Janis Joplin once said, “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.

I hope this column helps you in dealing with all types of Aggie the Agreer!

###

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network (AHN), 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com Dr. Durre’ has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and on the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Management Issues, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (97% score)
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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “VIRGIL THE VIRTUAL BOSS” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2014/03/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-virgil-the-virtual-boss/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2014/03/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-virgil-the-virtual-boss/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 07:03:54 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=16901 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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, Hy the Hider, Christine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger,Denny the Distorter, Orin the Orator, and Snyder the Sniper.

SITUATION

Virgil the Virtual Boss is just not there!  He may work continents away, in another city, state, or country, yet you have to answer to him because he is your boss.

Sometimes virtual bosses are extremely competent, dependable, fair, and excellent communicators.  They get back to you promptly, apologize if they don’t, and are specific in their directives, answering all your questions clearly. They tell you what needs improvement in a helpful, non-critical manner. They positively reinforce what you are doing correctly and are like cheerleaders on the sidelines.

Other virtual bosses are terrible. They are micromanagers, critical, and give no positive feedback.  They can be passive aggressive, negligent, difficult to communicate with, and totally absent.  They can be vague, pass the buck and set you up as the fall guy/gal.

There are advantages and disadvantages to having a virtual boss.  With the bad Virgil, you may feel various emotions including: frustration, anger, neglect, powerlessness, fear, and disgust.

Virgil can use technology as a shield to hide behind – “Oh, I didn’t get your email.” Or, “I never received a voice mail from you.”  You never know if it’s the truth or if he’s lying. Set your computer and phone up to confirm email and voice mail receipts.

EXPLANATION

Because of budget cutbacks, many companies eliminate and/or consolidate departments, managers, and supervisors to save money.  They have downsized in terms of numbers and their top priorities are to increase profits as well as save money. This can mean that your supervisor has become a Virtual Virgil – no longer in your office or even the same building – and they may have moved him to another city, state, or even country.

If you had a boss on the premises whom you could make an appointment with in person or through their assistant, you’d sometimes feel better, but virtual bosses can be slippery snakes and they can use technology or bad cell phone reception as excuses to avoid you.

There may be advantages to having Virgil as your boss:

1)      you may have more freedom

2)      there may be a less regimented work schedule

3)      there can be less micromanaging

4)      you can work from home

5)      there may be fewer toxic people to deal with

6)      you may be able to accomplish more by yourself

7)      there may be fewer meetings

The disadvantages can be:

1)      it can be difficult to reach them

2)      there may be a longer time for their response

3)      they may not respond at all

4)      you may get no direction

5)      you may waste time and effort without direction

6)      you may feel isolated and lonely

SOLUTION

Here are the most important things to do when dealing with Virtual Virgil as a boss:

1)      Get clear and direct feedback, ask questions and get answers about what to do and get it in writing.

Don’t say, “I didn’t know. No one told me.” It seems wimpy and you can be fired for it. Be assertive. The only stupid question is one not asked when you need the information. CC everyone in an email and letter who are above and below you and laterally who are involved in the project.

2)      Be highly productive and shine as a competent, dependable employee

Show Virgil what a team player you are by going the extra mile. Earn his trust for promotions and raises.

3)      Develop a one-on-one relationship with Virgil

Be personable in your communications if appropriate. Ask about his family and always acknowledge his assistant for their help. Don’t overstep your boundaries.

4)      Be flexible about time, especially if you are in different time zones

You may have a conference call at 2 AM depending on where you boss is. You are not the one with power here, so be flexible about the time. Don’t complain, just do it.

5)      Schedule video conferences with Skype and Face Time as frequently as possible

There are people who have worked for a company for years who have never met Virgil in person. With Skype and Face Time, seeing Virgil on a screen can be better than not at all, so schedule it when at all possible.

6)      Schedule meetings with time zone differences in mind

Get a national or global time zone map on your computer or post one on your bulletin board so you know exactly who is in what city and when and exactly when the conference or video conference call will occur. Avoid confusion. Some states, like Tennessee, are in two different time zones, so be careful.

7)      Schedule a meeting with Virgil when he comes to town

Take advantage of his business trip and attend every meeting with him if possible. Make sure you schedule an in person meeting with Virgil, even if it is for five minutes. Get to know each other face to face even briefly. Your promotions and raises may depend on it.

8)      Cover your back and document everything

Document everything and cover your back. Whether your boss is in the next office fifty feet away from you or across the world, you must document everything, and photocopy documents. Put a copy in your safe deposit box at the bank. Always send a follow up email after a conference call summarizing the agreements, plans, directives, authority, and responsibilities of each person.  Companies like to blame someone when things go wrong. You must protect yourself from that happening to you.  So all letters, emails, follow ups, calls, etc., should be cc’d and addressed to everyone involved on a project – to your superiors and to those below you – who are affected and involved.

9)  Go to HR if necessary

Going to HR for assistance may be one option, but most HR departments are tools of the corporation and do very little if anything to protect the employees whom they see as expendable and replaceable.  You can report the situation to EEOC. You can also have an attorney write a letter warning them that you will file a law suit against Virgil and the company if the negativity or situation isn’t rectified. It gets trickier when HR is also virtual, but be persistent and have all the evidence and documentation.

10)  Working at Home Without a Boss Present

If you are working from home, don’t let personal issues, housekeeping, and children distract you from working. Make sure you have ample childcare, relatives and babysitters to help, as well as extended day care at school both before and after the school day.  Hire cleaning services to keep the disorder and chaos at bay.  Also with working at home, you don’t have to dress up – can spend the entire day in your sweats, or jammies and bunny slippers. You can save money on gasoline, clothes, tolls, lunches, car maintenance. You also don’t have to brave the elements and deal with snow, sleet, rain, or wind like a postal worker does.

If you feel isolated in your work, make sure you have enough socializing outside of work to keep you happy – meetings and dinners with friends, spouses, and dates; religious and spiritual groups, book and film clubs, sports, hobbies, meditation, as well as health and personal hygiene appointments like the gym, manicures, pedicures, massages, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and spas.

11) Working in an Office Without a Boss Present

If you are working in an office with a Virtual Virgil, don’t let other co-workers trap you in a game of “Misery Loves Company.” Tell them you have work to do and don’t get sucked in to their “Ain’t It Awful” moans about why their boss isn’t there. Be proactive and contact Virgil yourself, and encourage them to do the same.

There may be times where co-workers take over the “Boss” role. Remind them that they are co-workers and even though Virgil is not physically there, he is still the person you answer to, not them.

12) Meetings with Virgil at His Office

If and when your presence is request to meet with Virgil at his office, always keep a suitcase packed. Make sure the company pays for your flight, hotel, ground transportation, and meals. Keep your receipts. A failure or refusal to meet Virgil in person can look bad when they are considering promotions or raises.

I hope this column about Virgil the Virtual Boss helps you to deal with him in such unique circumstances!

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network (AHN), 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com Dr. Durre’ has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and on the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Management Issues, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com.

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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “SNYDER THE SNIPER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/11/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-snyder-the-sniper/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/11/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-snyder-the-sniper/#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 18:10:01 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=16691 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal MakerVernon the Verbal Attacker Bobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the BlamerWinnie the WhinerEric the ErraticHy the HiderChristine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger,Denny the Distorter, and Orin the Orator.

SITUATION

Snyder the Sniper makes nasty remarks under his breath, and he tries to get away with it. Sometimes Snyder grins when he emits his pointed barbs at you, similar to The Smiling Cobra I wrote about in my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace.  Snyder also makes asides or remarks out of the side of his mouth, hoping no one will hear him, but secretly wanting everyone to hear every syllable. You may call him on it or ask, “What did you just say?!” Then Snyder will reply, “Oh, nothing” or “You’re hearing things” or “You need your ears checked.”  And then he walks away.

But he knows exactly what he said.  He wants you to hear it and he wants you to be hurt by it, but he is so emotionally dishonest, he won’t admit it and he pretends it’s your auditory hallucination. Don’t allow his deflection fool to you or con you. He’s a hoodwinker, trying to pull the wool over your eyes AND ears. Snyder says such cutting, hurtful statements, you sometimes wonder if his tongue was made of razor blades.

But whether he smiles, says it as an aside, mumbles, or looks you directly in the eye, you feel like you have been shot by a sniper.  Where did you get hit?!  You’re hurting and feeling pain, but you can’t see any blood.  You feel like you are dying, but there was no sound of gunshots, only his vicious words with a silencer on them.  And you didn’t see it coming.  It came out of nowhere!  It’s like a hit and run accident. You were side-swiped by a verbal killer.

Snyder is usually very clever and perceptive, so he knows where your sensitive spots are and he aims directly for them with laser beam accuracy and cruelty.  If you attempt to lob his nasty bullets to back to him, Snyder will either cry, crumble, walk away, or start a verbal tirade eviscerating you. Be careful because the Snyders of the world can get physically violent and might even attack you.  If you were sitting on all that rage, you could be a pressure cooker yourself.  Sadism is the flip side of masochism, so Snyder can alternate and play the victim himself and then he makes you out to be the tormentor.  Be aware of his tricks and call him out on it.

EXPLANATION

Snyder the Sniper is like The Grinch – he is mean-spirited, negative, and/or deliberately evil.  Underneath, he is wallowing in his own self-pity, lashing out at others because of his own envy, insecurity, and disappointment in life and in himself. What he doesn’t want to admit is that he created his own life that way from his laziness, inadequacy, and refusing to be positive. He’d rather blame others for his own misery and take it out on everyone around him. He has to live with own failed dreams and his fear of success, which can be blamed on his own self-sabotage. He has a terror of taking risks and he doesn’t see that risk taking and failure are both part of success.

Snyder the Sniper operates his life as a catapult and a hand grenade throwing machine. He likes to project his feelings of powerlessness and lack of control by one upping people, or one downing people. Then he tries to disguise it by saying it quietly or mumbling. Cynical, unhappy, quietly misanthropic, most always depressed, and innately angry, Snyder is toxic to be around. He’s an emotional bully, and he zeroes in on his victims carefully, spewing his poison on the weakest ones. He uses them as verbal doormats to wipe his angry shoes on. Snyder methodically selects those he knows he can bully and get away with it.  Don’t let it be you.

Yet at the same time, he is a total coward because he is too afraid to take on anyone in a direct confrontation or even to have a civilized dialogue.  He is much too frightened.  So he resorts to passive aggressive behavior – doing nasty, aggressive things in a passive manner, like how he withholds communication. He’s obstructionistic, like “forgetting” to give you the overnight packet that arrived and which you needed for a meeting.  He really does it deliberately and then pretends he didn’t remember.  Not so!

There are sadistic tendencies in Snyder combined with his underlying rage.  His parents may have physically and/or emotionally abused him when he felt vulnerable and powerless. Perhaps his own parents made snide and passive aggressive remarks about him or each other.  If so, his parents served as dysfunctional role models, and that may be where he learned it.

So he extracts his revenge on others in a misdirected attempt to displace his rage from his parents and his anger at himself onto you instead of dealing with it in psychotherapy with an experienced professional who can heal him and get him to vent and resolve his anger in healthier ways.

There is a Chinese proverb that perfectly depicts who Snyder is: “Some people feel taller by cutting other people’s heads off.”  This is the defense mechanism of projection.  Snyder the Sniper really hates himself and sees his glass as half empty – never half full. Life is not pleasant for him and he hates his own existence.  He feels he is a miserable failure – and he usually is – and so he has to put down everyone and everything around him because he is so envious, frustrated, and bitter.  He only has himself to blame for his lot in life.  His negative thinking, nastiness, pettiness, spitefulness, and usually his cheapness have all taken a toll on him, sapped his energy, and exiled him to existing in the dark side.

The price of his emotional bile can manifest in somaticization as kidney stones, gall stones, gall bladder and spleen problems, headaches, stomach aches, backaches, neck aches, acid reflux, pancreatitis, diabetes, hemorrhoids, and/or a myriad of other ailments.  Avoid being the receptacle for his acrimony and malevolence.

SOLUTION

You need to protect yourself from him and here are some ways to do that.  A process shot is the best way to handle Snyder the Sniper.  My book has a section about “process shots.”  If you don’t have a bookstore nearby or don’t want to wait to order it online, you can download it into your computer and also on Nook and Kindle.  A process shot is describing how, why and what the person is doing, rather than dealing with the content of the statement.

Here is an example: I worked at a residential treatment center for seriously disturbed teenage boys with difficult childhoods – domestic violence, sexual and/or physical abuse, and/or mental disorders. They would approach me in a group and ask, “Hey, Linnda, can you give us some money to go get ice cream?”

My process shot response was, “Do you guys think I’m that stupid that I am buying that line?!  You really want money to go score drugs from your drug dealer to get high.  If you want ice cream, let’s get in the van, I’ll drive, and we’ll go get ice cream, I’ll pay for it and we’ll have fun, but if you think I’m buying your con games so you can buy weed or other illegal substances, you’re crazy.”  They were chastised, knew I had their number, and didn’t ask me again.

By calling out their hidden agenda, you reestablish yourself in the power seat, and the boys knew that I was hip to their tricks and would not tolerate them.

You must do the same with Snyder. He wants to hook you into a one-upsmanship game, putting you down by nasty remarks. You must confront him because he actually thinks you won’t. He counts on your passivity, like most bullies do. Snyder keeps getting away with his sniper shots because most people won’t confront him, doubting their own perceptions that Snyder could really be that ruthless.  People say to themselves, “Did Snyder really just say that to me?! No, he couldn’t have said something that mean.”  Well, he DID say something that mean.  And you have to confront him.

Take all or parts of the following “script” suggestions and tailor make it to your own workplace situation.  You may want to consult with HR first and have a meeting with them, explaining what has happened.  Usually snipers don’t leave paper trails so there is no “proof” with emails or letters of his viciousness. He’s much too smart for that.  And you’re usually not armed with a video cam or tape recorder to get down what he said, plus you have to inform someone when you’re recording them.  He can and probably will deny he said anything negative. He will insist that you “misinterpreted” him, and/or that you need an appointment with the audiologist to correct your faulty hearing.

You may want to have the HR person in the room with you when you confront Snyder.  Some people will also take their attorney with them. You may need witnesses because Snyder is so sneaky, it’s like trying to hold onto mercury.

With HR there, you should probably say something like this to Snyder: “I really like my job and I enjoy the people I work with.  When I hear your negative remarks that you muttered under your breath, it can be very hurtful.  If you think I didn’t hear you, you’re wrong. I did hear you.  And if you think you’re getting away with it because you say them with a barely audible voice, you’re wrong again.  You’ve done this to me and to other people here in the office.  You seem to relish hurting people with your acid tongue.  This isn’t the first time I’ve heard you insulting people and making fun of them, including me. What you don’t understand is that it hampers office morale and productivity.  I don’t like it and I want it to stop now. Your cynicism and cruelty only reveal your own self-hatred, bitterness, and sense of disappointment in yourself and in life. I recommend you get into therapy and look at where these patterns began and start changing your life for the better.  Happy people don’t make nasty remarks like that. It seems you’re angry and depressed and you take it out on other people.  Snyder, you’re creating a hostile work environment, which is illegal. You’ve taken the HR training courses so you should know better.  You can be reported to HR, to your boss, and to EEOC. I can also have an attorney write a letter warning you that I will file a law suit against you and the company if your constant stream of negativity doesn’t stop.  We have good coverage for individual psychotherapy and you also have three free sessions with EAP [Employee Assistance Program].  Please get some help. I enjoy my job and yet having to spend eight hours a day with your negativity makes it intolerable. Please change your behavior so we can all have a pleasant work environment. Thanks so much!”

I hope this explanation of Snyder the Sniper helps you to deal with him at the office and perhaps he’ll get help, change, and the office morale will be elevated about twenty points!

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice shows, including “Ask The Family Therapist” on America’s Health Network (AHN), 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com   Dr. Durre’ has been interviewed on Oprah, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Daytime, Good Morning America, Canada AM, and The O’Reilly Factor (twice), and on the national and/or local news on ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, Fox and CW, as well as by Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine,  Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Management Issues, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com.

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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “ORIN THE ORATOR” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/06/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-orin-the-orator/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/06/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-orin-the-orator/#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:55:58 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=16077 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal MakerVernon the Verbal Attacker Bobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the BlamerWinnie the WhinerEric the ErraticHy the HiderChristine the Cruel,Robert the Rule Monger, and Denny the Distorter.

Orin the Orator goes on and on to make his point, usually in a conceited manner and doesn’t listen to you.  Perhaps you are not bothered by Orin’s behavior. You may roll your eyes when you are out of Orin’s sight and just continue what you were doing. You may laugh internally at Orin’s arrogance. If you can deal with it, then you have a tougher skin than most.  But this column is for those who can’t deal with his egotistical, superior attitude and his verbal flooding. Compared to Orin, Hurricane Sandy looks like a harmless drizzle.

Situation – Orin the Orator is your boss and he loves hearing the sound of his own voice.  He likes to talk and he rarely if ever lets you have a word.  He may use long, difficult to pronounce words to impress you and his audience. He is a master of the English language.  Orin may be eloquent and quote Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, or Kant, and use large, impressive words that the average person doesn’t recognize.  Orin does this because he likes to intimidate you intellectually.  Or Orin may just go on tirades, barely stopping for a breath between sentences.  He says the same thing over and over because he basically believes that he is smart, that you are stupid, and that he has to “educate you” when he’s really pounding you over the head with his verbal two by four. Then again, he may do both – go on unending, drawn out, soapbox speeches full of pompous, twenty dollar words delivered in a snobby, ostentatious tone, with all the dramatic flourishes of an actor on the English stage and never let you speak.

Orin is usually close minded, determined to get his way, and he always believes he is right.  Orin doesn’t like compromising or considering the possibility that he may be wrong. His motto is “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.”  Orin may even ask you a question and then verbally steam roller you, not wanting to hear your answer. If you do get a chance to respond, Orin usually doesn’t even hear what you have to say because he has already made up his mind.  It’s exhausting just to listen to Orin.  You’d like to wear ear plugs, but he may just give you an assignment that you need to hear and complete.   And woe to you if you don’t hear him!  You need to develop an accurate audio filtering system.

Explanation – Orin is most likely a pretentious narcissist and believes he is the center of the Universe. He may have had parents who thought just that. They let him have center stage and complimented him and lauded him for simply sitting down at the dinner table. So he grew up with an exaggerated, false, near delusional sense of himself.  He doesn’t have an accurate picture of how boring and tedious he really is.  Orin is selfish, self-centered, and his narcissism makes him believe he is special and that the rules don’t apply to him.  He can be clueless in reading other people and is insensitive to their boredom, frustration, and how they tune him out.  When you work for him that is difficult to do and could be damaging to your job security if you don’t do what he asks.

Another childhood scenario is that his parents may have been attorneys, politicians, public speakers, and/or sales personnel who demonstrated the “gift of gab” and served as a role model for him to follow.  They showed him that “he who is long winded, wins.”  Not always true, but that’s what Orin believes, so he uses words as weapons to defeat anyone whom he believes is his enemy – which is basically everyone.

Because he is very aware of the power structure at work, Orin tries to impress his boss and his superiors since he is looking for promotions, raises, and climbing the ladder.  Therefore, Orin believes that those beneath him are his “slaves” or underlings who need to jump at his every command. He believes you are powerless, stupid, incompetent, and expendable.  So he comes across as condescending, egocentric, and power hungry.  Be careful because he will create a case for getting you fired if you don’t do as he says.

Solution – Perhaps the most diplomatic and effective tactic in combating Orin’s behavior and verbal tsunami is to get his boss to give him some feedback about his tirades.  Orin probably won’t listen to you. Even if he even hears what you’re telling him, he won’t do anything to change because you have no power over him and he considers you an inferior.  So getting his own boss or even HR to tell him might be the way to go because he is not a candidate for self awareness, insight, or changing on his own given feedback from an employee.  Don’t let him know you are consulting with his boss or HR. Do it secretly and don’t leave a paper trail about it with emails or letters.

You may want to ask other co-workers to join you when you go to Orin’s boss and/or to HR. There is safety and power in numbers in a situation like this and it will impress Orin’s superiors.  They will realize that you are not a “whiner” and that something is wrong with Orin’s management style.  But whether you go by yourself or with others, center your complaints on how Orin’s never-ending speeches and tirades are wasting employee time, interfering with work productivity, and that the company is losing money.  State that Orin is creating a hostile work environment because of his condescension, put-downs, and haughtiness. Businesses and HR usually listen when money and profitability are at stake. They also pay attention when they are threatened with a law suit or informed that they may be violating labor law.

To cope, you must develop screening techniques that enable you to listen for the work orders and deadlines and to shut out the bombastic orations.  That may be easier said than done.  Working for Orin may be causing you physical pain such as headaches, neck aches, stomach aches and/or back aches.  It may also be causing indigestion, anxiety, and depression.  Is it worth your health to work for Orin?  There are better bosses out there and better jobs. Start looking now. Or better yet, ask for a transfer immediately to another department where you have heard that the boss is fair, a good listener, and uses positive reinforcement to motivate and reward his employees.  That beats out Orin any day!

###

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). 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 Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine,  Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as newspapers including Orlando Business Journal, Sydney (Australia) Herald, Pasadena Star News, LA Times, New Jersey Star Ledger, Argus Leader, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com and 407-739-8620.

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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “DENNY THE DISTORTER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/05/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-denny-the-distorter/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/05/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-denny-the-distorter/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 18:29:00 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=15967 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal Maker, Vernon the Verbal Attacker Bobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the BlamerWinnie the WhinerEric the Erratic, Hy the Hider, Christine the Cruel, and Robert the Rule Monger.

Denny the Distorter can be a man or a woman. Their ability to spin cotton candy around their words, sweet talk anyone into doing what they want, and deny and distort what they previously said is astounding. Be aware of their games and tricks or you’ll be run over by them like road kill and be destroyed. They will stop at nothing to get their way, cover their tracks, and polish their phony facade to convince others of their innocence, honesty, and/or good intentions, none of which they possess in any quantity whatsoever.

Situation – Denny is your boss and he can be charming, charismatic, and clever. He can flatter you or anyone and convince them to do what he wants. And, when he doesn’t get his way, he can turn into a bully in a nanosecond. He is manipulative and immoral, but more amoral. He doesn’t have an inner moral compass.  It’s just not there.  As the saying goes, “There’s no there there.”  Denny’s ability to twist words and meanings in his favor is bizarre and you feel like you’re at a carnival or boardwalk with all those mirrors that elongate, shrink, and distort.  He can split hairs and find loopholes like an electron microscope technician or neurosurgeon. Denny also avoids taking responsibility for anything that he does and whatever has gone wrong is legendary. He has blamed you for your “slip-ups” and incompetence to cover his own errors.  He spends a great deal of time looking for people to blame and to take the fall for his lies and deception.

You know that you did the right thing, but you are beginning to doubt your own sanity because he’s so convincing. He is a master at getting his way with the English language (or any language) and he makes you feel crazy, deaf or that encroaching Alzheimer’s is imminent – you think your memory is slipping because he’s swearing he told you things that he really never did. Or he insists that he didn’t say something that he definitely said.  Or he tells you that you misinterpreted him.  But you even have the email and voice mails from others to prove it.  He’ll spin a web of lies around whatever he wants to hide – he’s a champ at rationalizing, compartmentalizing, and justifying his innocence.  And you get the blame with negative remarks written in your personnel file or a possible pink slip. You can’t win with Denny. Fight back!

There are times you literally feel dizzy after he finishes one of his tirades because he is the Fred Astaire (or Ginger Rogers) of verbal dancing. He is giving a master class in word juggling and he should be on tour with Ringling Brothers. He is fascinating to watch, but not to be the target of his machinations. He sets you up, and detonates his words at you like ammo. Wear a bullet-proof jacket made of Kevlar to save your life and sanity – in fact, wear a helmet with a visor protector!

Explanation – Denny is most likely a sociopath, which means he has no conscience, no guilt, and he never connects his actions with consequences. He is incapable of empathizing with anyone, but he is an award winning actor, and can fake empathy, sorrow, and tears along with Oscar winners. He can be so convincing that you begin to believe him or even feel sorry for him. That’s part of his technique.  He is incredibly selfish, self-centered, greedy, ruthlessly ambitious, and he thinks he is above the law.  Denny’s narcissism makes him believe he is special and that the rules don’t apply to him.

He probably had attorneys, politicians, and/or sales personnel for parents, guardians, or influential adults in his life, which is where and how he learned his remarkable ability to attempt to out-talk, outsmart, and outwit his opponents, usually getting reinforced and applauded for doing so. He usually calls his targets “his marks” and sees them as his dupes, but he would never admit that to you or anyone.

Another tactic he uses is “The Boomerang.” It’s his issue, but it lands on your lap.  He projects his guilt onto you and others and sets you and them up as the villains. They did it to him! He’s just an innocent victim. What a role reversal!  You’ve seen this too many times on dramatic or reality TV crime shows or in the movies or documentaries that portray how criminals think, behave, and literally get away with murder.  White collar criminals can be the worst because they have the money to hire smart attorneys to convince a judge and/or jury of their innocence.

Denny sees himself as “the smartest guy in the room,” and his intellectual snobbery is palatable. He has nothing but disdain for others, sees everyone else as weak, stupid, incompetent, and/or lazy; and he will stop at nothing to get his way, including blaming it and dumping it all on you.  If it means you go to jail in taking the fall for him, he’s all for it and will engineer that to happen so he can go blameless and free. Protect yourself.

Solution – The most important thing in combating Denny’s boomerang tactics is to get everything in writing and to always follow up with an email to Denny and his superiors as well as others in the chain of command in all directions – upward, downward and laterally. There may come a day when you may need to audio and/or video tape exactly what Denny said and did so you can have it and can use as proof.  You must inform him that you are doing taping and recording him.  Consult your attorney about the legalities of taping someone without their consent and see if there are exceptions, as possibly in a fraud or blackmail situation.  You don’t want to do anything illegal when dealing with Denny because he’ll make you look like the criminal, not him.  Remember Nixon and his tapes, which were his downfall and proof of his culpability.

In my book, Surviving the Toxic Workplace – Protect Yourself Against Co-workers Bosses and Work Environments That Poison Your Day  (McGraw Hill 2010) please read Chapter 16 – pages 58-62 and the section on “boomerangs” and “calling a process shot”.   You must describe to him the process of exactly what he is doing by saying, “Denny, you claim I neglected to notify Bob, when I have proof of the email I sent him right here at 10:05 AM on Saturday, June 10th.” And show him the print out.  Send it to him again in an email.

Denny is a crazy-maker and you must safeguard your sanity or you’ll feel like you’re the crazy one. You’re not.  Keep a journal of your every move, speech, phone call, voice mail, voice message, letter, email, meeting, and contact that you make. Write down exactly what happened and the date, time, and place. Always cc your emails to the right people.

Keep copies of everything in your own personal safety deposit box at the bank and on a back up disk that you can also store there as well and keep another one at home. Denny is capable of forgery, theft, misappropriation, and whatever he must do to cover his tracks.  He may also hire other people to do his dirty work. The extreme example is committing murder, and that could mean YOU if his egregious lies and errors threaten his existence and career. Denny is a wicked wordsmith who is dangerous, devious, deceitful, and devilish. You must protect yourself and your sanity.

Be careful if you ask others to be witnesses. Denny is so manipulative that the other witnesses might end up “drinking the Kool Aid” and fall under his spell, turning against you. Denny can also bribe, threaten, extort, use and/or flatter them to get his way. In this difficult economy, people need all the money they can get, and since most Dennys I know are well off financially, he is certain to use money as a lubricant and motivator to sway someone to his side. He is capable of great treachery. He only thinks of himself and his reputation, wealth, status, ambition, position, and image – all of which are corrupt, tainted, and achieved through illegal and/or unethical means. He uses and steps on or over people to get ahead, and you’re one rung on his ladder to the top.

Having an attorney of your own is a smart move because Denny may eventually fire you for not doing what he asked, or for not covering for him and taking the blame for his mistakes. And he’ll fight you on unemployment and he’ll make it look like you quit.  You cannot let that happen. Or conversely, he’ll do everything to persuade you to stay because you know his secrets.  Stand up, be strong, and start looking for another job while you still have this one.

You must examine your mental, emotional, and physical health when working for Denny.  You may be experiencing crying spells and aches and pain in your head, neck, back, heart, stomach, etc., and/or you may be suffering from insomnia, indigestion, anxiety, and depression because of the hyper-vigilance you must maintain to watch your own back 24/7 working for Denny.  Is it worth your sanity and health to stay?  There are better bosses out there and better jobs with higher pay and benefits. Start looking now. Or better yet, don’t work for Denny in the first place. And if you just started with one, ask for a transfer immediately. All aspects of your health are at stake here as well as your resume, future, and career. Get out as quickly as possible!

I hope these suggestions help you deal with Denny the Distorter.

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international speaker, and magazine, newspaper, and Internet columnist. She has worked with Fortune 500 companies giving speeches, seminars, trainings, and workshops. She hosted and co-produced two live call-in advice radio shows and two live call-in TV advice 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 (McGraw Hill 2010). 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 Forbes, WSJ, Inc. Magazine,  Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, Job Week, Career Builder, Law Office Administrator, Entrepreneur Magazine, and many more. She has written for Forbes, AOL, Yahoo, CareerBuilder, Monster, A&U Magazine, Orlando Business Journal, and American Cities Business Journals. For more information about her consulting and speaking, contact her at Linnda.Durre@gmail.com and 407-739-8620.

2 votes, 5.00 avg. rating (98% score)
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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “ROBERT THE RULE MONGER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/03/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-robert-the-rule-monger/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2013/03/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-robert-the-rule-monger/#comments Wed, 27 Mar 2013 12:42:43 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=15223 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal Maker,Vernon the Verbal AttackerBobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the BlamerWinnie the WhinerEric the Erratic,Hy the Hider, and Christine the Cruel.

THE SITUATION

Robert the Rule Monger follows the letter of the law, even when the rules are counterproductive to productivity, efficiency, and profit. He may do it in a variety of styles: 1) a harsh, cruel, and vindictive manner laced with sadism and viciousness 2) a cold, robotic, Standard Operating Procedure – SOP – manner without any feelings for others or demonstrating any feelings of his own whatsoever or 3) a combination of the above.

If you don’t follow the rules, Robert will threaten you with being written up, reported to his boss and to HR, and he will make life a living nightmare for you. His behavior, which seems crazy, will shock, infuriate, and hurt you. Robert will always find a rule that you are breaking, violating, or bending. And if he can’t find one, he’ll usually make one up to justify his power and he’ll do it just to scare you.

Working for Robert is like walking through a land mine field. An explosion could happen at any second. You’ve begun to have symptoms of PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – nightmares, insomnia, ulcers, 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. You want to quit but you need the job, the money, and you have bills to pay. How much are you willing to put up with before you get out of there?

The Roberts of the world are found everywhere. Just as in the book, TV and cable movies, and films of “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, they are the Javerts of the world – pursuing someone for years for stealing a loaf of bread. They will try to outsmart you at every turn and find errors and rule breaking that you have done to make you look like a criminal. In fact, they may even report you to the authorities, inflating a minor infraction into a felony, or making something up out of nothing, so get witnesses if you can, document everything, put it all in writing, make and keep copies, cc people who will help you, get an attorney if you have to, and lock all documents in your safety deposit box in case of a law suit.

EXPLANATION

Robert the Rule Monger probably suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or he may be an Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD). These disorders are characterized by rigid thinking, compulsive behavior, obsessive thoughts, ritualized habits, and the inability if not refusal to break the habits, all of which is fueled by fear and terror. Robert may have had very harsh, cruel, authoritarian parents – like some (not all) judges, ministers, military personnel, police officers, etc. – who kept him under their thumb and did the same thing to him that he is doing to you. Underneath he is frightened, terrified of authority, and afraid of being wrong, violating the law, and being fired. But when he’s the authority and in power, then he wields it like an axe and your head may be on the chopping block next.

Robert is a company “yes man” in the worst sense of the definition. The boss or corporation says “Jump!” and Robert says, “How high?” He will do anything for the higher ups and the company and is loyal beyond seeing reason or folly. Robert is a security minded person to the max with his eye on his pension and benefits and he will not jeopardize his future. Robert feels his adherence to following the rules will get him promotions, raises, and earn him good favor with his bosses, HR, and the company. And sometimes it does with a few exceptions, one being if his method is counterproductive.

The sad thing is that his rigidity about the rules is creating animosity, resentment, and anger in his department. It is impeding productivity, cooperation, and camaraderie and he’s probably losing the company a great deal of money because no one is taking risks, thinking out of the box, or coming up with innovative ideas because they’re all so concerned about being fired or breaking a rule. His department usually breeds an atmosphere of suspicion, fear, and paranoia. No one wants to confront Robert for fear of being fired themselves.

Working for someone like Robert makes you act like an abused child – you think if you follow all the rules and keep your room (desk) clean, finish your homework (reports), and do your job (chores) that Robert will like you and get off your case. NOT SO! He will come up with even more rules for you to follow! There is nothing you can do please Robert because he is an OCD person with an endless list of infractions that you have committed and will add more rules if he has the power to do so. And if he doesn’t, he will get permission from the higher ups to do so.

Robert operates from a win/lose philosophy where he always wins and his aim is for you to always lose. He loves to make people wrong and always “one ups” you – or “one downs” you, as the case may be. He criticizes constantly, telling you what you are doing incorrectly and rarely will he tell you what you are doing right. He never compliments you, only humiliates and negates you. He is such a toxic person.

It may feel like you are working in “The Twilight Zone” or a place similar to an office in a Franz Kafka novel – unpredictable, unfair, irrational, illogical, with no explanations except, “These are the rules and they must be followed,” or as they say in the Harry Potter books about Voldemort, “He who must be obeyed.” You may fear for your sanity and feel like you’re headed for a padded cell in a locked ward, with no hard objects, being fed mashed bananas with a spoon. And you might be with this kind of toxic boss.

SOLUTION

There are several options when you have Robert for a boss:

1) In a pleasant, gentle, and non-confrontation manner, you may want to point out the inefficiency, silliness, or insanity of the arbitrary rules or the contradictions that seem evident to you. Be prepared for Robert to adhere to the party line and to ignore your complaints or informative suggestions. He may also put you and your suggestions down and make fun of you. He also may be verbally vicious and cut you to the core with insults, so be prepared. He doesn’t usually listen to reason or suggestions. Remember, he is coming from abject terror of doing anything wrong and being fired, punished, and/or humiliated himself. He will defend himself and the rules to the death.

2) You can go to Robert’s boss or to HR, but, if they are just like Robert, you will probably not get anywhere. They may believe Robert is doing a good job and, until they get statistics and facts that his department or division is losing money, they will not listen to you. See if you can find statistics to validate the decline of profits, productivity, and efficiency. Unfortunately, most business leaders only move when money is at stake. They usually don’t care about morale, camaraderie, or cooperation. They fail to see you can make tons of money in a positive, productive work environment.

3) If the higher ups or HR are on to Robert and feel that he is creating a bad environment, there is a possibility they will fire him or transfer him to another department. You can appeal to them to do so. But remember, Robert is so crafty that he may have blackmail information on them on how his bosses or superiors “broke the rules or violated the law” and they simply won’t let him go because he knows too much and has dirt on them.

4) If Robert’s own boss or the higher ups are not intimidated or scared of him, go to them. They may be able to reason with him, get him some training, or send him to psychotherapy or EAP. They may also put him where he belongs, which is in the Compliance Department or the Contracts Department, where his nitpicking, rule following skills can be utilized for the company’s benefit and where he may have minimal contact with employees. But remember again, Robert may know things about his own boss or higher ups and their own rule infractions that he can use against them for his own job security so he can’t be fired.

5) Seeking individual psychotherapy, joining a therapy support group, and reading about OCD, toxic bosses, and workplace communication skills (like my book, “Surviving the Toxic Workplace”) may help you understand and cope with Robert, and remember – it’s only a temporary Band-Aid. Robert will probably never change. What is the cost to your mental and physical health? How long can you last?

6) Ask for a transfer to another department or division within the company so you don’t have to have direct contact with Robert and then you can keep your tenure, benefits, and pension.

7) If the entire company, including your own boss, is full of Roberts, then you probably will need to get out, find another job, and leave as quickly as possible.

8) If you can get a good recommendation letter from Robert, get it before you leave. But asking for it will be a “tip off” to him that you are job hunting. Your best bet is to get the rec letter from someone else at the company because Robert 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 Robert the Rule Monger.

—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.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (97% score)
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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “CHRISTINE THE CRUEL” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2012/04/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-christine-the-cruel/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2012/04/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-christine-the-cruel/#comments Sun, 22 Apr 2012 12:57:39 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=12243 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal Maker,Vernon the Verbal AttackerBobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the BlamerWinnie the Whiner, Eric the Erratic, and Hy the Hider.

THE SITUATION

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.

EXPLANATION

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.

SOLUTION

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.

1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (97% score)
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Coping with a Toxic Boss – “HY THE HIDER” http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2011/11/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-hy-the-hider/ http://blog.ebosswatch.com/2011/11/coping-with-a-toxic-boss-hy-the-hider/#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 08:52:58 +0000 http://blog.ebosswatch.com/?p=12130 Surviving the Toxic Workplace, by Linnda DurreBy 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 DictatorBashia the BackstabberSewell the Sexual HarasserCarl the Control FreakPaula the Passive AggressiveClayton the CluelessGreta the GossipSusie the Sugar CoaterIan the Idea StealerAl the AlcoholicNancy the NarcissistDonald the Deal Maker,Vernon the Verbal AttackerBobby the Boss’s RelativeCynthia the Silent Treatment TorturerPhil the PhilandererNed the NegligentSal the Slave DriverPorter the Political Soap BoxerMichael the MicromanagerWade the One UpperBetty the Battle Axe, Phoebe the PhonyPeter the PigBill the Big Picture BossDan the Detail BossEllery the YellerSandy the SnobBlaine the Blamer, Winnie the Whiner, and Eric the Erratic.

THE SITUATION

Hy is a hider. He makes you do all the work for him – dirty work and otherwise – yet takes all the glory.  He locks himself in his office and orders you NOT to disturb him. He may also leave the office and you never know where he is or where to find him.  Or he does both.  Does he take three hour lunches? Is he having an affair?  Does he have family emergencies?  Is he constantly out of town?  Perhaps he’s married and his wife constantly calls you wondering where he is. You don’t know and you tell her so. Maybe she suspects you’re having an affair with her husband because she can’t get in touch with him either.  How do you help her, set limits, and keep your job?

Hy may also be a hider of documents, files, and reports. How can you assist him if you don’t know where he puts things?  Whether you don’t know where he is or don’t know where the paperwork is, Hy puts you in double binds – you have all the responsibility but none of the authority.  He blames you when things go wrong, but since you don’t know where he is, it’s impossible to call him and tell him of emergencies that he has to know about and solve. You can text him and leave him messages on his home and cell phones, but he never returns the calls. What are you to do? You can’t win with him.  The situation gets crazier and crazier and you feel more helpless. You’re thinking of quitting and finding another job, but in this economic climate you are fearful of doing that.

THE EXPLANATION

Hy may have learned avoidance as a coping mechanism when he was a boy.  He may have been beaten, severely or unfairly punished, and he learned to just keep quiet and say nothing.

Hy may be elusive, sneaky, and/or shy. He is an avoider of conflict. Yet behind the scenes, you don’t know if he is manipulative, ruthless and keeping you out of the information loop, or just shy.  He might even be both.  He may be afraid of facing the facts or avoiding a crime.  He may be frightened of taking action for a pressing matter so he just hides and keeps avoiding it.

He may have been promoted to the position by someone who likes him, or it may be a family business and he is in his position because he was the next in line, and yet he may be totally unqualified for the position.  But he’s in the position and doesn’t seem to be in danger of being fired, promoted, or transferred.  No matter what, you feel frustrated, angry, and lost at sea.   If it’s a family business, his boss and/or the HR director may be a relative of his and you’re hesitant to report him or express your dissatisfaction. You’re also afraid that they won’t do anything about it.  No matter where you turn, you feel helpless.

THE SOLUTION

The first thing to do is document everything – all of the times that Hy has been absent from his job, when you could not find important documents,  and every time he has avoided making a crucial decision – as well as all the times you tried to contact him on his cell phone, home phone and through emails and texts. Print out all the text messages and phone messages. Make sure you call him from your private cell phone as well so you have documentation on your own private cell phone bill.  Many times corporations circle the wagons and destroy your documentation, like corporate phone records. Don’t let that happen. Protect yourself.

Make copies of everything he gives you and start your own filing system that has a lock and key that only you can open. You may also want to keep another set of files at your home so no one can get at them.  Be careful if the company accuses you of taking “confidential” material home with you.

You can report it to Hy’s boss and also to HR.  Go to them with copies of your records so they can see how many times you have contacted him.  Ask them to speak to Hy.  Ask for a transfer to another department or division if you like the company and want to keep your benefits and 401 K.  If you feel that Hy’s boss or HR is covering for Hy, you may still want to report it to them and then follow up with an email, cc’ing everyone important.

Be careful if Hy tries to make you his scapegoat. Document everything so you don’t get blamed for his negligence and avoidance. Print out all emails, text messages, and keep it for your records in case you have a legal issue, have to sue them in a law case, or if someone sues the company because of Hy’s incompetence.

If you decide to leave your job, you should probably have another job lined up or at least have made contacts to other companies.  Have good letters of recommendation from others in the company to bring to your next job application.

I hope this helps in dealing with Hy the Hider.

—Linnda Durré, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, business consultant, corporate trainer, international 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 Co-Workers, Bosses, and Work Environments That Poison Your Day” (2010 – McGraw-Hill). The book’s website is: www.survivingthetoxicworkplace.com Her book interviews include Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Investors Business Daily, Inc Magazine, Monster, AOL, Yahoo, and others.

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. She has written for Forbes, 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 or 323-333-1393.

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