Mefi friends, help me to decide whether to quit my job.
January 18, 2011 3:30 AM   Subscribe

Mefi friends, help me to decide whether to quit my job.

My boss is a verbally abusive control freak. He has to have complete control of the environment, and if he feels you're a threat to his control, he goes on a *campaign* to destroy your reputation with senior management. Even if you're an innocent bystander that does not work for him, but you have a strong or assertive personality, he will go after you and berate you so that you fear him (although he would never admit it). It's all very unprofessional...and weird.

I was dealing with it for the most part but recently he blew up on me (for a very minor reason) and yelled at me in front of about six co-workers. I don't have a problem being told I was wrong if my boss thought so, but he was yelling at me in a degrading way by cutting me off and saying the same thing every time I tried to explain myself. And he would keep doing this until I stopped trying to explain myself and I had to stare at the ground while he lectured me. Again, in front of everyone. I've never been treated like this in my adult life. I'm in my 30's and educated (not 16 years old).

I was obviously angry and took the weekend to determine that I'm leaving. When I talked with another manager yesterday, he told me in a few weeks the abusive boss will start spending time away from the office and I likely would not be seeing him much. I told him I would give it a few weeks to see how it goes, but after going home and thinking last night, I'm still just not happy. I feel like the entire work experience there has been ruined for me and it will not change even with that boss gone. I don't really enjoy the work much, but this incident really put me over the edge.
I'm not worked up right now so I know for sure that I'm not making any decisions based on pure emotion.

My bottom line issue/question is whether I am being a baby by not being able to move on from that incident. It has happened to me about five times in the past year and so this is definitely not the first time...but I can't move beyond this incident.
Has anyone experienced a situation like this in the work place, where even though the problem is being fixed, it feels like the damage is already done? I feel so strongly about not wanting to work for this guy anymore that even if he is in another office, I would still work for his company, and to me that is enough to say "I quit".

Am I being a baby over this?

By the way, there is no option to have another boss or transfer within the company (he owns it). It's either continue in the current structure or quit.

For backgound, I am planning on taking time off this summer to travel anyways. I have plenty of savings and zero debt so I'm not as worried about abruptly not having a job.
posted by Yunani to Work & Money (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You don't like working there and you don't need to work there, so... seems kind of obvious, no?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 3:48 AM on January 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

I don't see any reason to feel shame about quitting if doing so isn't going to harm you or your family, or burn important career bridges. Declining to work for an asshole is not 'being a baby.'

That said, you might feel a little better during the next confrontation (should there be one) if you simply look your boss in the eye, keep your breathing even and your mouth shut. Don't waste your breath trying to converse with someone who's not interested in conversation. Trying to explain yourself only gives him the opportunity to keep abusing you, which is what he wants. Ducking your head deferentially will feed his habit.
posted by jon1270 at 3:59 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

You are still upset because the problem is NOT being fixed - the solution you've been provided doesn't mean it wont' happen again, it just means you'll have distance from him. There is no resolution here, which is poor form. Get out.
posted by shazzam! at 4:11 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're almost certainly going to quit eventually. The question is how. Calmly and with a lot of planning, or impulsively when you can't take it anymore? With or without another job lined up? Now, or next year after you've been worn down a little more? Visualizing your escape - and realizing that you can and will escape - will help you here.

Are you being a baby? Based on your side of the story, no, but we only have one side of the story. If you have a history of jobs gone sour, take a look at yourself and figure out if there's anything you can do to improve your chances in the future - this may be as simple as just recognizing and avoiding crummy work environments before you get stuck in them.

I recommend having another job at the ready if you want to quit, because In Today's Economy blah blah, but sometimes being non-miserable is more important than a paycheck.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:18 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Under normal circumstances, what you've described would amount to workplace harassment and bullying and I'd be telling you to report it and get the jerk disciplined. But if he owns the company, there's not much point in that. I understand why you're finding it hard to move on, it's very demoralising to be treated so badly and frustrating to have no recourse. But this is a no-win situation. Put your notice in keep your head down for the remainder of your time. You might still need a reference from this person one day.
posted by londonmark at 4:22 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

As the owner, he sets the tone for management. He creates the corporate culture. He is ultimately responsible for employee morale. He makes decisions that create or run off business/sales opportunities. Even if your immediate problem might go away, there are still many problems. It's time to go.
posted by Houstonian at 4:28 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Sounds like he's pushing you for a reason... So unless you have employment rights, such as duration of service giving you 'tribunal' chances, run, don't walk, to the next job.

Try your hardest to get that next job BEFORE you leave this shitty one.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 4:31 AM on January 18, 2011

See how the next few weeks go, but use the time to look for other options. You spend enough hours of your life at work to merit having a work environment free from harassment.

Seconding Metroid Baby's advice to taking a considered approach to both quitting and your next employment.
posted by arcticseal at 4:37 AM on January 18, 2011

I had a similar experience with a previous employer. I started looking for a new job, smiled and made nice in the mean time and got a much better job within a couple of months. The economy is in a much tougher place at the moment, but if you can leave, leave.
posted by crocomancer at 4:40 AM on January 18, 2011


But, the boss is going to be away from the office in a couple weeks, which should make things less bad. If you can handle it, I'd try to tough it out temporarily, while looking for another job, until you find that other job.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:54 AM on January 18, 2011

No debt, plenty of savings, and you plan to take time off anyway. This sounds just like the recipe that ended in homelessness for a woman in an article I recently read. She wanted to change careers, took the summer off, had "plenty of savings" but when she wanted to get a job in the fall, she didn't find anything.

You can't just turn jobs on and off in this economy. Whether you're going to leave this job or not, I think I would line something else up first and reconsider taking time off.
posted by Doohickie at 5:11 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

after going home and thinking last night, I'm still just not happy.

Sometimes work is like that.

I feel like the entire work experience there has been ruined for me and it will not change even with that boss gone.

How this particular manager treats you is something he controls. How you react to it is something you control. Your work experience is ruined? Really? Suck it up.
posted by Doohickie at 5:16 AM on January 18, 2011

If he owns the company then the situation is very unlikely to change. Leave. Find something else first. Some people are assholes and have had their whole life to get that way. Nothing you're likely to do is going to change that. So take control over what you can change, your job. Get another one somewhere else and consider yourself lucky you escaped the insanity.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:47 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

What Doohickie said. Jobs are hard to come by. Everyone has bad days at work. Maybe you should take this opportunity to learn how to get along with difficult people. You might as well learn now. You're getting paid for it. If you run away, the next difficult person may be someone not so easily escaped, like a brother-in-law or a next door neighbor.
posted by toastedbeagle at 6:02 AM on January 18, 2011

Mefi friends, help me to decide whether to quit my job.

My boss is a verbally abusive control freak.

That would be enough for me. Life's too short to waste it working for arseholes.
posted by flabdablet at 6:18 AM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

I've had that happened to me before--quite a few times--with different bosses and I'm still working for the joint.

The first psycho left (or got fired for being psycho--whose to say)

The other one at least did it in private but it was demoralizing, demeaning, and unnecessary nonetheless. They were just promoted this year. The problem is I get paid very well for the abuse and I have a family so....

unless you have a strong economic reason for staying there, don't. But as far as being a baby, no you're not. No one under any circumstances should be yelling at you--whether they are CEO, VP, or lateral coworker. It's unprofessional, unnecessary, obviously their issue, and they can go to hell.

And I told the first boss in a respectful way she can do just that and I did it in front of her own division. She was pissed, blocked my promotion, and never changed. The next person she did it to though resulted it in her ass getting canned. And yes, I laughed and did a little dance.

Unprofessional behavior does not last long in a work environment, even if they are the owner. Some day they'll get their ass sued. Meg Whitman anyone?

But lit Flabdablet said, life is too short to work for an asshole. Think about it, you're communiting +work is a minimum of 12 hours a day, 5 days a week out of your life. Too much time waster.

And yes, one day I WILL figure my stuff out and leave too. But for now I stay far away from the psychos or at least have it done in front of others and then go to HR. :)
posted by stormpooper at 6:28 AM on January 18, 2011

well i'd probably quit if someone yelled at me like that. but i'd try to find another job first.

but i didn't come here to say that. what i would do in that kind of situation is leave. not walk off the job but just go something different. once he started yelling at me i'd tell him that i have to go to the bathroom. and then i'd walk off regardless of what he said/yelled and go to the bathroom to refresh myself.

the key here is you want to hit him with something totally unexpected. if you try to defend yourself he's just going to shout you down--because that's what he expects you to do and he's prepared for it. you tell him you have to go pee. it'll most likely break him out of his rage. if it doesn't--just go to the bathroom. he'll look even more like an idiot if he continues to yell at you under those circumstances.
posted by lester at 6:35 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I worked for a guy like this once. He would make sure that there were other people around when he started yelling at you, usually coworkers, just so it would be more humiliating. He once made the mistake of yelling at me like this in front of a good chunk of the entire company; countless people came to me after that to say that they had no idea that it was as bad as that. I stuck it out and the price was losing joy/interest in what I did as a career.

Use your frustration and anger to motivate you to find a new job with a non-toxic environment. Quitting in this economy may leave you unemployed longer than your savings will hold out. The people who told you that it would get better when this guy is working out of the office, they don't entirely get it.

To those above who say to suck it up, have you ever been in this situation? Being regularly yelled at and demoralized publicly is hard to take. This is an abusive relationship. In a workplace, this is extremely inappropriate. HR should take care of this sort of thing, but rarely does.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:38 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't stay - quit while you have enough self-esteem to find a better job. Don't suck it up. I had a manager who regularly yelled at me and starting my work day in tears was not fun and not healthy. A better job is waiting for you. Trust me, it is.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:50 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Leave. It's not going to get better. I have been there, and it is awful. Yes, this economy sucks. I understand why people are telling you to stay, or at least stay until you find something else. But the side effects of this sort of thing can build up -- when I finally quit my abusive job, I had panic attacks for the next month every time anyone so much as mentioned it. You're not being a baby, and you most certainly do NOT have to suck it up if you're in the financial position to support yourself for several months while job-hunting.

However, if there is an HR department, I would consider sending a registered letter to them after you've left and received your last paycheck, outlining this idiot's abusive behavior and why/how it caused you to leave. If he tries to retaliate against you in any way (not knowing what industry you're in, I don't know what sort of pull he has outside his own company), you've got your back covered, at least a little bit. And then the next person who has to go to HR about this manager will have some kind of record of his bad behavior to bolster their claims -- consider it your gift to that person and the others he's abused. If you have a lawyer, CC him or her on it, even if you don't ever plan to take legal action.

Of course if the guy owns the company, a lawsuit's probably going to be the only way to ever get him to cut it the hell out, and even then, I'm not hopeful. Jerks are jerks.

Good luck!
posted by at 6:57 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Any organization that supports that type of behavior, even implicitly by not firing the guy is not a place you want to work. I'm in a similar, although not as bad situation. Luckily for me, my boss is on the other side of the country. It still has a huge impact on my feelings about my work and the company when the only communication I have with my boss is that he yells at me.

So find another job and get out.
posted by reddot at 7:02 AM on January 18, 2011

Find a job where they treat you with respect, then leave. In the meantime, document the hell out of the current abuse. Once you leave, if you've been able to get the boss to yell at you in a public space, put it on YouTube.
posted by anildash at 7:22 AM on January 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've given this advice before, so I'm going to give it again.

Slowly begin to take your things home and/or replace them with things you don't mind leaving. Take personal things off your computer. Since you've already talked to another manager about the problem, and he or she is aware of it, it's fair to tell that manager explicitly:

"I am an adult, and if I am yelled at again, I will resign." That covers your ass, and makes someone aware of the seriousness of your conviction.

And then, as soon as the boss inevitably blows his top at you again, say these words, which you should practice saying, starting now:

"I am an adult, and I do not tolerate anyone yelling at me. If you do it again, I will resign."

If he stops right there, he stops right there. If he yells at you for saying it, you'll say:

"I won't tolerate disrespect and yelling at my place of work, so I quit, effective immediately. I am going to go collect my things, and you may send me my last paycheck at my home address."

Then take your minimal things and go. If you say those things above loud enough and in a public place, you will be empowering your (former) coworkers, too. That's a parting gift you should enjoy giving.

Be prepared to contact a lawyer if you don't get your final paycheck in the time your state has outlined, between two weeks and one month after your last day. A lawyer-penned letter should get that moving if they're not forthcoming.
posted by juniperesque at 7:35 AM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

No debt, plenty of savings, and you plan to take time off anyway. This sounds just like the recipe that ended in homelessness for a woman in an article I recently read. She wanted to change careers, took the summer off, had "plenty of savings" but when she wanted to get a job in the fall, she didn't find anything.

Okay, I wouldn't worry about this scenario. It's worked out the opposite way for plenty of people, and it's unlikely that you'll sit idly by exhausting your savings. At the least, you'd probably work at the local grocery story or doing something. Don't be afraid.

Your boss's behavior is abusive, and he's unlikely to change. He sounds like a nutcase. Start putting your feelers out for other work. In the meantime, commiserate with your employees, and secretly treat him like the caricature he is.

But make sure you're looking for work on the side. If you want to quit now, go ahead and do it. Don't sacrifice your mental health for this if you can help it.
posted by anniecat at 7:57 AM on January 18, 2011

Wait a minute: the dude who owns the company is an unprofessional, abusive, control-obsessed douchebag? That's not a good prognosis for the company. Eventually his incompetence in handling his work like a reasonable, mature adult will come back to bite him in the ass, while inflicting collateral ass-biting upon the employees, customers, and investors. You probably don't want to still be there when this happens.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:07 AM on January 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

The only way to be a "baby" about quitting a job is to quit on unnecessary bad terms. You have a bad boss situation. It is ongoing. You don't need this job. You have given all of these facts careful and considered thought. Now the only thing you have to do is avoid giving into the temptation to let this boss know why you're quitting.

The satisfaction you will gain from enumerating your bosses flaws and mistakes is fleeting. Your inability to use this place of long-term employment as a reference is forever. You want to resign in a polite, and professional manner - if you can stomach it making it clear that this is a "its not you, it's this aMAZing opportunity that I have to travel" situation might make things even smoother. Especially if it's followed up with "how can I make this transition as smooth as possible for you"

You're getting out of there no matter what, there is literally nothing to be gained in this situation by being anything other then incredibly nice and professional on the way out.

And to answer the specific question - in case it wasn't clear. Yes, you should quit, as soon as is professionally possible - before you give into the temptation to quit unprofessionally.
posted by dadici at 8:13 AM on January 18, 2011

I would leave, but as others have suggested, I would find something else first. Most job search articles I've read lately opine that it's mostly people who already have jobs that are finding new jobs. If you weren't planning to take time off until summer, you probably shouldn't be out of work in January. I have more than a few friends (some with advanced degrees, even) who are out of work and finding the job hunt now to be miserable.

I'm fairly cautious by nature, so take my advice within that context. I am currently in a job I should probably leave, and my situation is merely demoralizing, not actively harassing like yours. You know yourself best. Can you stick it out until you find something new?

Good luck.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:37 AM on January 18, 2011

I'll throw one other thing out there:

I once had a boss that would occasionally chew people out. I got chewed on pretty good once, and thought that was it- I'm done with this guy.

I hung around and once we understood each other better he actually became a mentor/father figure to me.

If he cares passionately about the company, sometimes the passion comes out. Is it right? Maybe not, but everyone's human.
posted by Doohickie at 8:42 AM on January 18, 2011

AskMe Rule #4352.b: When you post two questions in 3 months asking whether you should quit your job, the answer is always yes, for god's sake yes.
posted by auto-correct at 9:43 AM on January 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Will someone at your company other than this jerk owner give you a positive reference? If I were you, I might take the chance when the guy is out of the office to pull aside someone else senior, like the person who told you he was going away soon, and ask that person for a reference. Cover your bases, use the breathing room when he is gone to leave things tidy for your replacement instead of leaving suddenly with a pile of unfinished work on your desk. This guy is a jerk and he will continue to poison his own company, but you will get glowing references from the other employees if you handle this with grace instead of blowing up and leaving in a huff. That might be satisfying, but in the end it won't do much for you.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:19 AM on January 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Owner-managers pretty much have no reason to change, but your story is a little weird: the owner is your boss, but there is also "senior management?" Are you serving two masters?

Regardless, you aren't being a baby. Anxiety and humiliation are not normal workday features.
posted by rhizome at 10:28 AM on January 18, 2011

I'm sad to say, but I don't think it will get better. Even if everthing aligns and the jerk leaves and you are given a raise, I still don't think you'll feel good about working there. I have been in a similar situation, where I hate the place I work. I haven't had the courage to quit without having a new job first. They have made positive changes for me, but I still haven't been able to let go of all the horrible things that they did. I'm still looking for a new job.

I can't advise you on whether to actually quit or not. The reason I ended up not quitting was because I was worried about losing my health insurance and eventually losing Cobra if I was out of work for a prolonged period.

I came very close to quitting on many occassions. I nearly said the words, but the words, "health insurance" rang in my mind.

Ask yourself if you can survive a couple years without having a job. Depending on your industry, finding a new job might be very difficult. Before you decide to quit, look at the worst case scenario if you can't find another job.

When I was seriously considering leaving my job, I received the following advice:

-Take a prolonged vacation. Use up all you vacation time at once.
-Take some unpaid FMLA time (if you're in the US)
-Quit on your own terms, not in the heat of the moment
posted by parakeetdog at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2011

"Am I being a baby over this?"

No! Your boss's behavior, as you described it, is an absolutely unacceptable way to treat people. Quit!
posted by Jacqueline at 9:23 AM on January 19, 2011

Thanks to everyone for all the great responses.
I'm taking it a day at a time right now. The dickhead boss has been acting nicer but I know from experience it is only temporary. I'm going to plow through the job for the next few months and then look to leave on a sabbatical. He knows I'm not happy with him so he is leaving me alone. The moment he starts in on me again, I will tender my resignation and leave.
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments about keeping in mind health benefits, the economy, references, etc. I have all that covered. I'm blessed to have enough savings to last a long time.

Only comment I didn't agree with above is Doohickie saying to "suck it up". I couldn't disagree more. Someone in my position absolutely does not and should not have to suck it up. I've been poor and on the bottom before, and I indeed had to suck it up, but I've worked hard to get where I am, and I've worked hard to have enough money to tell someone to screw off if they cross the line. So next time he crosses the line, I'll terminate our working relationship (i.e. I will quit). Only time someone should "suck it up" is when they truly have to. Thanks again, everyone.
posted by Yunani at 4:55 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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