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I’m 9 months or so into a new position as a junior software developer at a large enterprise corp. I feel that my manager/supervisor is often quite mean and rude to me and I believe as a result my performance is poor and my mental health is suffering badly. I’m unsure what to do about the situation.

I find that when I ask questions he will usually answer with a tone that implies that the answer is obvious and that I should have known/shouldn’t have to ask. Often he will get frustrated with me (exasperated sighs, eye rolling etc) when I don’t understand things when he explains them to me and will even occasionally resort to speaking to me like I’m a child or something.

I find this treatment extremely upsetting and stressful so I am extremely disinclined to interact with him if I can help it. My work falls behind which adds additional stress and I am too depressed and tired by the end of the day to socialise or keep up with hobbies etc so my personal life and mental health is suffering because of this. I often find myself stressed and anxious almost to the point of tears at my desk.

While I’m still being given what seems to me like relatively simple tasks they are still almost impossible to complete without some specific knowledge of the system which I couldn’t possibly really know without asking. I feel like I’m constantly being given impossible puzzles to solve and then belittled when I’m unable to do it and need to ask for help.

This is my second job in the industry and I have never had trouble with teamwork or communication before which leads me to believe that I’m not too stupid or lazy or whatever to do the work. His method of mentoring has ruined my confidence and stressed me out so much my performance is falling behind.

I’m not really sure how much longer I can deal with this, I don’t know what to do, I’m terrified of getting fired, I feel like I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown and I don’t really feel like I’m in a position to be looking for a new job right now.

Is this the sort of behaviour I can report to HR or maybe even his manager? hopefully they could get him to be nicer to me. Is there any other actions I can take?

  • Surely the root cause is the way I’m being treated at work? how is a mental health professional going fix that – user3678912 May 27 at 14:13
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    Don't leave the responsibility for your mental health on some external person. It's your health, no one else is going to care for it more than you. That is why you should see a mental health professional as Joe suggested. Then you can better cope with the problems you are facing. – user85135 May 27 at 14:35
  • Some bad behaviour in the company may border into mobbing; mobbing is awful and can lead to serious mental health problems which arent't by any means a fault of the mobbed employee. Still, seeing a therapist may help to cope with this toxic environments. I've been through this and it's plain awful and I totally empathize with the OP. – Czar May 27 at 15:41
  • You put too much responsibility on other people for your mental health, you have control over how you interpret and process external influences therefore any negative effects on your mental health from his behaviour are also caused by you. Just worth noting, I'm a big promoter of personal responsibility for mental health. – HelloWorld Jun 3 at 14:15
  • Having gone through something similar, I can only recommend you one thing: get out. It is very difficult to recover your mental health while in a situation that degrades it. Recover first, with a new manager in the same or a different company and with the help of a mental health professional. – Cyonis Jun 4 at 7:39
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It could be harassment.

What I suggest is to have a reality check:

  • do you honestly feel that you are not overreacting?

  • have you done all the possible steps to ensure that you can give the best? If you have flaws, do you have taken steps to better your results?

  • how is your supervisor's communication? Ok, he is rude but:

    • does he provide a reason?
    • is he passive-aggressive?
    • does he mock you in front of others?
    • does he seem a stressed person?
    • do you think he can't handle stress by his own?
    • does he interrupt often?
    • is he unavailable?
  • how does he relate to your colleagues?

  • are you able to write down some of the episodes and see if there is a pattern or maybe there is the possibility that you being insecure plays a key role?

  • are you sure the "things you don't know about the system" aren't discoverable with research and digging through the code?

  • is there some other mental condition that may add to the situation? (Latent depression, ADHD, family problems, ...)


When you are sure that the supervisor's behaviour isn't quite right, then we can say that he could have problems in how he handles leadership, problematic cases and communication.

It's perfectly normal to feel that kind of anxiety. The constant gaslighting can shatter people's confidence and can ignite a serious, overwhelming fear for performance and their own future in the company.

What I'd suggest is to talk with the supervisor. What a therapist suggested me, in a very similar spot, was:

  • stress how you feel without attacks or accusations. Don't play the "you" card, always make it a "me" thing.

  • with the above in mind, make just a few example (2 or 3, more will you make look paranoid). So: last day, when I asked X, you answered Y, but this made me difficult as i felt Z. Voice clearly that you have performance anxiety and you're afraid of your job.

  • be proactive, don't be defensive nor justify. Make the talk about how, with a better communication, you can be less anxious. Say that you are willing to cooperate to better yourself and your performance, but a good communication could be fundamental to this process.

Having some psychological support to deal with this could be also very important. A therapist can help you "measure" what happens and dial in the best responses; the risk of escalation in this cases is high and you must have the right emotional tools to handle this in a proper, calm and professional way, without letting way to anger or frustration.

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It is quite common in many workplaces, that you will work with systems, that require specific domain knowledge. Asking questions is key, to get to a productive level fast (which might still take you some months).

Your boss being upset might not be related to you asking, but him being over worked. I would recommend, you ask him, how he wants you to deal with your questions. You also might want to ask him, if there is any documentation which you can read.

I do not recommend to involve third parties yet, you will most likely be seen as thin skinned and 'rolling eyes' is not really a punishable misbehaviour.

On a side note: Regarding the mental health issue, I agree with the comments, that someone being not nice, should not affect your mental health.

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It takes time to learn your way around a complex workplace (and in your case, complex software code base). It would be a huge surprise if you weren't still learning nine months in. Be patient with yourself.

You say your mental health is suffering. That's reason enough to work with a mental health professional. A good counselor will help you develop solid ***hole shields and mental strategies for ignoring or working around snarky colleagues and supervisors. It's good to have those strategies, because, ***holes.

You can consider having a conversation with this supervisor. You can take note of a specific incident where he was dismissive. Then you can ask for a private conversation, and say something like this:

"On Wednesday when I asked you how to dezumbinate the weekly framis, you reacted with an exaggerated sigh and eye-rolling. I really want to do good work. When I ask questions like that, I hope to learn more about how to maintain the SuperRazzle system well. Your response to my question makes me feel like it's wrong for me to ask questions. I understand you personally might not have time for my questions. In that case could you please suggest somebody else I might ask?

The point: keep it professional. Describe the unwanted behavior, and its effect on you. Then ask for a change. Then listen. Keep in mind that a supervisor's entire job is to make his employees successful, so you're not asking for anything unreasonable.

And, don't let yourself be defined by snarky people around you. Don't give them free rent in your mind. I know this is easy to say and hard to do, but it's still worth trying to do.

Be strong. All the best.

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Unfortunately, this is all the more common in the tech world than you'd imagine. Having had a manager like this, here's my two cents.

Are you writing good code?

Yes, you are

In the tech world, how good a developer you are is not defined by tenure but by the effort you put in. Ask yourself if you're writing better code than Mr. Manager. I've had entire pull requests rejected because my code used some advanced language feature that Mr. Manager did not know himself and therefore deflected the discussion to "oh, so you do not know how system X works? omg!".

It's very easy at a young age to get fascinated by some new programming concept and use it the first chance you get. If this is genuinely the case, you are dealing with an a$$hole.

No, you are not

If you are not, you have to up your skills and read a few more books on your tech and domain. In such a case, maybe your manager's frustration is justified albeit expressed badly.

Are your peers toxic?

Yes, they are

It took me a while to recognize that my perception with my manager was largely influenced by another employee(s). Nepotism can play a huge role in how work life unfolds for you because being spoken negatively about behind your back does a lot of damage. So take a look around and look for toxic people.

Be very careful in deeming someone as toxic and always use Hanlon's Razor first.

No, they are not.

Then go make friends with them. You need support and people who will understand you, your situation, and help you with your tasks. I had quite a few of those at work and that allowed me to get by.

Have you spoken to your manager?

No, you have not

If you have not, I'd suggest setting up a meeting and speaking to them. Be polite. Also email them the minutes of the meeting so that when push does come to shove, you will have something to make your case.

Yes, you have

And they yet haven't changed? Then you are dealing with someone who's either a brilliant jerk or someone with solid Dunning-Kruger effect. Both these kind are easy to find in the tech world so brace yourself.

If the work is too unbearable, find a new one. Stressing out is not worth it. Also, do develop a thick skin because tech is like this, unfortunately, and bad behavior is all the more solidified by pop culture.

I am writing this from the eastern hemisphere so you know it's prevalent here, too.

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Maybe it is actually your fault

First off, your boss's response to your questions are completely uncalled for downright rude. This answer is in no way defense of him. The other answers here call out options to that.

However, look at the types of questions you are asking. There are questions that when you are given enough time to research a solution, you should be able to figure out yourself with the help of your peers/online community. Also, there are business requirement questions you will have a difficult time researching yourself and simply have to be told "This is how we do this at XYZ Company"

Notice the difference in these questions:

Technology Question

Mr. Rude Boss man, I can't figure out how to show the output of this function to the end users. Can you help?

vs

Business-Requirement Question

Mr. Rude Boss man, What formula is the business expecting me to calculate in order to display these results?

The first question is exactly the type of question that gets downvoted on StackOverflow, it shows little research effort, don't bring those types of questions to your boss, ever.

The second question is exactly what types of questions you SHOULD be bringing to your boss, if you've exhausted your other lines of research.

You should make sure the types of questions you are bringing to your boss are well-researched.

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