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AgapeDoc, Counselor
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  Dr. W. D. Nicholas is a relationship expert & can help families or organizations become more effective.
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I have noticed that my supervisor will accuse me, often in

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I have noticed that my supervisor will accuse me, often in a snide and/or sarcastic way, of doing something incorrect. I respond (if only for the purposes of documentation) in a fairly bland professional tone and point out where I believe he is incorrect He may then write back again. I ignore the second email. I'm not interested in email "fights." I've noticed that when I confront him face-to-face about his behavior he will claim ignorance. Recently, after one of these email digs, we had a meeting with three other people and he looked at every one except me. At one point he seemed to be assigning me something to do but he was looking at another person. I was confused and I asked him if he were addressing me or the other person. He then finally turned to talk to me. Basically, he "behaves like an adult" when other people are in on the conversation and he even seems a bit deferrential. So, what the hec is going on here? Thanks.

It sounds like for whatever reason their is a personality clash. Sometimes personalities at work just don't fit and conflict arises. I don't know if he is rude but he is obviously demonstrating poor conflict resolution skills himself. I absolutely hate these email fights too. Be careful of how you speak because you can only change you. Instead of ignoring emails respond to them in a brief succinct way that is professional and to the point. By ignoring them you think you are avoiding a fight but he may see it as passive aggressive. This mis perception can make things worse and kick in his childish behavior. I would be just as appropriate and brief in person. When he is not facing you, say in a completely neutral tone a statement that allows him to know that you have noticed his body language. Of course you could consider leaving the job but that may not be possible. You should consider how much your happiness is worth. If you want to stay then you have to strategically face this without appearing hostile. Always try to be the bigger person no matter what the situation.


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psychlady, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 6892
Experience: I have over 16 years experience in treating adults presenting with a variety of relationship issues
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Relist: Other.
Not pertinent enough to my situation in federal government.
Thanks for posting this question to Just Answer. I appreciate that opportunity to serve. I do a fair amount of organizational consulting and I can tell you that (unfortunately) this is not an unusual situation. I have dealt with countless similar situations over the years. Email has only added another dimension to the problem.

If you like to read, there is no shortage of materials on this topic. One of the best books I have ever read was a book titled "Addictive Organizations" the authors point out that people don't check their dysfunctional behaviors at the door when they report for work. It sounds like this could be a case study in that book!

I would continue responding to his remarks for documentation purposes as you have done. However, at a certain point, I would review the email and technology expectation for your organization. After that, I would approach someone in the HR dept. and present his emails pointing our your concerns. If you feel you are being harassed, and it seems like you are, you actually have it in writing!

Other than that, I think you are managing it just the way I have counseled other clients I have worked with.

As a bonus, let me offer the following. As you work for the government, I suspect that there is a specific technology and email policy (as I have referenced above) however, you may certainly gain favor with your superiors if you offer to head up a team to look at possible revisions.

I hope I have offered some solutions - If you would like to post another question, need clarification, or just want to continue the discussion, please just respond here.

I know it is challenging, but I wish you must success.
AgapeDoc, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 197
Experience: Dr. W. D. Nicholas is a relationship expert & can help families or organizations become more effective.
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

This is an excellent answer, doctor, if only because it helps me to realize that I'm not losing my marbles. Your entire answer is helpful, but especially your suggestion on locating a specific technology or email policy.


It's strange...I actually do some organizational developent work (strategic planning) for my group and I have pointed out to him the problems he could be creating. (My role is that of an engineer AND an "organizational development-type" person in the group). I'm also trained in Peter Block's "Flawless Consulting" techniques.


Thank you *very* much for your help.


(By the way, I realize I'm not perfect an in some instances he may have valid points...that's why I think ADR worked so well...but, again, he rejected it).


(I have a separate but related question I will follow up with...)

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