Do you work for a “toxic” boss? You know the type I mean. They’re always yelling and screaming at everybody. They belittle and degrade people at every opportunity. They’re convinced that acting otherwise is a sign of weakness.
Working for this type of person can obviously be very stressful but there’s more to it than that. This stress can eventually manifest itself as physical ailments.
“So great. Not only does my jerk of a boss make me feel like an idiot, you’re saying that this might be what’s causing my ulcers as well?”
Exactly. Not only stomach problems, but heart-related problems like high blood pressure as well, not to mention lack of sleep, restlessness, nervousness, paranoia, and lack of libido. The list goes on and on and includes the harmful ways that people try to copy including alcohol and drug abuse, overeating, and smoking.
“But times are tough and I’m lucky to have a job. Shouldn’t I just put up with it?”
Well, everyone’s financial needs are different and no one can make that decision for you. However, you do need to realize that you are in fact putting your health on the line every time you decide to simply “take it.”
Here are a couple of tips you can try to help you deal with a toxic boss:
1. First, don’t be a doormat. No human being has the right to treat others in a demeaning manner. If you really believe that statement, then you’ve got to stand up for yourself. Make sure, however, that you remain calm and professional. You obviously don’t want to lose your job but you’ve got to make it clear where the boundaries are. Keep in mind that many toxic bosses are like schoolyard bullies – once you push back, they back off. But again, try to remain as professional as you can.
2. Try to keep your boss focused on the problem. If you totally screwed up, own up to it and take your lumps. However, try to keep the argument focused on your actions, not on you personally. It might be accurate to call your actions idiotic, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK for your boss to call you an idiot.
3. Document the behavior. If things eventually get the point where you simply can’t continue to work there any longer, you want a documented record of what happened. If you’re fired, your records may provide the grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you quit and find out later that your old boss is trying to tear down your reputation, your records can be used to bring a defamation lawsuit. Now, I have no love whatsoever for lawyers but you do have to protect your reputation as well as your ability to earn an income.
4. Go public. Do not suffer alone. If you’ve tried talking to your boss and the abuse continues, make sure you talk to your Human Resources department.
Yes, I know that many toxic bosses learned their management style by modeling toxic bosses they themselves might have had. That doesn’t make their behavior any more acceptable in today’s workplace. That’s no different than saying a child or spouse abuser is justified in their actions because they were abused as well. You’ve got to break the cycle somewhere.
It begins with you understanding the emotional, and physical, toll that working for a toxic boss requires. It begins with you knowing where your “line in the sand” is. And it begins with you standing up for yourself anytime anyone crosses that line.
Here’s a pretty good short video I found that contains some additional tips you should consider.
Certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and
Personal Fitness Trainer
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