Dealing with a jerk boss
September 17, 2019 2:13 PM   Subscribe

My boss is a jerk. Within 5 weeks of joining the team he had told me twice that I wasn’t suited to the role and should look for another job; he is dictatorial and has a command and control leadership style, is more comfortable with the blokes than the women but hates me especially and every time I have to interact with him it gives me a bad day.

Standing up for myself leads to us butting heads, as he is totally inflexible, despite appearing to say all the right things at first, but if I bite my tongue and just obey he’s happy but I feel eaten up inside and am most definitely not happy. I know i should just give up, that nothing i do will ever please him or change his mind about me not being good enough for the team, but something in me refuses to die, so I am regularly hurt, disappointed and angry because of him.

It has been four or five months now since he started and they have been some of the worst of my career. He brings out the worst in me, though I am really trying not to let that be the case.

I have applied for other jobs but the processes are slow so I’m waiting on two outcomes. I have a good chance on one, but not such a good chance on the other.

What do i do in the meantime, until I can get out? How can I cope with this bad situation? What do I do if I don’t get these jobs and have to stay where I am for longer?

Please don’t suggest therapy - it’s not an option for me. Thanks! Note I am not in the US so the chances of me getting fired by this guy are slim to none.
posted by EatMyHat to Work & Money (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get as much exercise as you can, make a part-job out of looking for a new job in your off hours, network 'til you break a sweat (figuratively), and improve your skills. Can you access for online training through a library, or is there something similar where you are?
posted by jgirl at 2:27 PM on September 17, 2019

Prioritize getting a good night's sleep, spending extra time with friends, eating good meals, and getting exercise over this particular role.

Yes, also spend some time applying for new jobs, but maybe just do that on a specific day of the week, so that it doesn't eat up all of your spare time. It will be hard to feel good and perform well on your next set of interviews if all you've done is work in a tough environment, and then go home and perform a grueling task.
posted by whisk(e)y neat at 2:29 PM on September 17, 2019

When I have had asshole bosses of the aggressive arrogant type, being assertive, self-aggrandizing, flirtatious/flattering, manipulative was sort of effective. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by theora55 at 2:30 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

That really sucks and I'm sorry you're going through this. I'm just gonna throw out some things to try and maybe one of my suggestions will stick.

Incorporate as much self-care into your workday as you can. Whatever you normally do for breaks, lunch, etc spend it doing whatever you can to release some of the bad energy you're feeling. If exercising during lunch break is an option, try that. Doesn't have to be at a gym. Sometimes a brisk walk outside can really help. If that's not an option, then perhaps some form of meditation to soothe and center yourself. If you're often stuck at a desk without many opportunities to get up and move around, you can do tension/release exercises at various points throughout the day to help relax your body which can help relax your brain just a bit.

I'm glad you're already job-hunting. That's stressful too, even without dealing with a horrible boss, so make sure you have healthy/constructive acts of self-care to engage in at home. Whatever you consider emotionally restorative.

I have no clue what your financial situation is, and I'm not advocating that you quit your job right now, but would giving yourself a timeline help? Like, say that you will quit 6 months from now (earlier if you get a new job, of course!). Then you have a countdown clock. Here's the thing: you don't actually have to follow through when the 6mo (or whatever allotted time) is up. But it can help you psychologically divorce yourself from this job. Feeling like you have an end date can help get through the intervening time. Don't do this if it's something that would make you feel more stressed out, though!

Aside from the fact that your boss is objectively terrible, does anything he say or do make you feel bad about yourself? Do you start second guessing your abilities? It may help to have an internal monologue at the ready that you say to yourself to help bolster your self-esteem. "He's a jerk and he treats me badly because of his own issues. I am a good person. I am capable. I am worthy." Repeat as needed.
posted by acidnova at 3:47 PM on September 17, 2019

I’ve had some luck cultivating compassion for the jerk in question. It’s difficult to take such treatment personally when you understsnd that it is the howling of a wounded animal.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:37 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Kill him with kindness, and act like nothing he does bothers you at all. Know that he’ll hate it but won’t be able to do anything about it and get some satisfaction from hat. Then find another job and leave.
posted by Jubey at 4:53 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Document everything. At the very least keep a diary of his comments/actions. Also get another job ASAP.
posted by tarvuz at 6:36 PM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I’ve just gotten out of this situation. My purgatory began last October. My new gig starts in a month. My last day is next week.

In the short term, everyone has listed what I did to survive: self-care, changing routines, social engineer the asshole if possible, and remind yourself that you were valued before he arrived and you will be valued after you leave.

I’m taking a fortnight off to reset/recharge. I finally realised that surviving an abusive, toxic workplace environment has been soul-draining. I’ve been too long in the mode of head-down, get thru the day, that I couldn’t see the erosion of my confidence and self-esteem.

If it is possible, take time off before starting the next job and be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to decompress so you can begin with enthusiasm and without looking backwards.

I’m sorry this is happening to you. How great that you’ve got options you’ve pursued.
posted by lemon_icing at 7:23 PM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oof toxic workplaces are the worst. a similar experience really put a massive strain on my relationships, since i was just to tapped out at the end of every day and not fun to be around. for me it was just the headspace that all the ffffuuuuuuuuu!!!!! -feels that was taking up. it was hard to shake.
man, I hope you get out soon! not sure if you're one for guided meditation, but this video by the guy who does the Sedona method really helps me chill out. hope it helps a little at least. keep your head up!!
posted by speakeasy at 12:02 AM on September 18, 2019

This may sound weird but do you have a group of friends that would be into sharing “group text work selfies”?

I am doing this and I can’t overstate how much it’s helped manage dealing with my job.

Basically we just take random selfies at our desk and text what we’re feeling at that moment. It sounds so simple and ridiculous yet it’s surprising how much it’s helping me.
posted by nikaspark at 6:01 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

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