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Hello I'm here but have just gotten home from work...could you give me a few moments to get settled...and I will be right back. Is that ok? :)
That's perfect. Thanks so much!
You are most welcome. I won't be very long...just about 5 minutes or so to take care of the dog and such.
Hello. I'm back. How can I help?
I'm really feeling bullied by my boss. We've had a rough relationship for awhile, but about 2 weeks ago he sent me a long, vicious email full of a lot of accusations, most of which are either false or have long been addressed. I've been emailing him responses, forwarding him emails from people very happy with my work, asking other people to tell him how happy they are with my work, etc., and get no response. I've also stopped in to talk with him twice in person, and I might as well be talking to a brick wall. I do have a plan to apply for another job that I'm pretty sure I'd get, but that's been very slow in getting posted, and in the meantime I can't afford financially or psychologically to leave. Oh, and it's a tiny non-profit, so he doesn't have a superior, and I really don't want to provoke him by going to the president of the board. Survival tips most welcome...
Thank you for that thorough description. Based on what you have identified it sounds like for some reason or another your boss is displacing his anger toward you. The reason that he is not responding to the e-mails you have forwarded and appears to be a "brick wall" when you speak with him is because the accusations are unfounded and he actually has no response to them. May I ask...did anything of significance happen when the long email happened 2 weeks ago? Anything that you can recall?
Not really; he said he'd been saving these items up for awhile. Part of it might be that he was involved in a couple of very large projects (one personal, one professional) that have basically now come to fruition. While he was working on those, it was impossible to get his attention (and he actually did express appreciation for the entire staff having given him space during that period). Now that he has more time, he seems to be back to lighting into me (this isn't the first time, but it's the first time more or less out of the blue).
Ok. Has he singled anyone else out either now or that you have noticed in the past?
Nope. There was another staff member who also had much difficulty getting his attention, but my perception is that as soon as she came out as bisexual (my boss is gay), things got easier for her.
(But there are plenty of straight people in the office that he seems to be able to deal with.)
I see.....it sounds as though he's playing favorites....bullies in general tend to prey on those that they feel will be most impacted for some reason...it's a matter of a power trip if you will. My suggestion at this point is not to try to gain his approval by having others come to your defense or trying to talk reason into him...which in all honesty is fruitless. The best approach is to answer his e-mails matter of factly and keep it completely professional. By you responding to them...and personalizing them...which believe me I know it is difficult not to given the circumstances...this actually fuels his "power surge" and make him continue...if your responses are factual and "robotic" this behavior of his will likely start to dissipate
Yeah...they have been pretty robotic, but I can make them even more so. That helps, but what I need is something for me...he DOES play favorites, and the hard part has been that I used to be the favorite, and refused to play along when he wanted to elevate me over some other folks. For some reason, I continue to desperately crave his approval, and I'm trying to figure out how to break that.
(And it won't be a surprise that my father was bipolar...)
You sound to me to be an accomplished professional...you need not seek his approval...the only approval you need to seek out is your own. This happens over time and I can suggest a workbook to help you work on your self esteem if you would like?
That would help, but I'm also interested to know if there are any tricks I can apply right away?
That book looks really good, thanks.
Here is the link for the workbook...as for immediate things to do...all I can honestly suggest is to do your work...don't give him any ins and if he singles you out tell him you feel you are being verbally abused and you need time to yourself and walk away. This will display your strength and that his bullying isn't phasing you!
The problem is that he doesn't abuse me verbally; it's in email. (A big, big clue with the email from a couple of weeks ago was that he said something to the effect, "oh, and this is something that can be deleted." Trust me, it ain't getting deleted!)
But what I'm hearing is that I shouldn't respond to him, the way he doesn't respond to me, except in very dry terms.
Thats precisely what I'm saying!!
Great. Again, you've been very, very helpful.
You are sincerely XXXXX XXXXX there anything else I can do?
May I offer one additional workbook on stress management before we end?
There you are. You'll find it very helpful Im sure
If thre is nothing further you can end the chat by clicking the ACCEPT button. I wish you the very best and as always you can always ask for me personally as you did tonight
That one looks good too. Thanks--I'll check in again if things escalate further.