I am currently working at my first "real" job. Everyone is nice, except my boss. When I am talking to him, he will often visibly roll his eyes at me. He also puts me down in front of my coworkers, especially in front of young women (he is in his 60s and I'm in my 20s).

I am not a "normal person". By which I mean I tend to be a bit of a pushover and lack confidence. Would a normal person put up with someone like my boss, or would they have quit by now or spoken up?

Today he did something (put me down in front of my coworkers when I did nothing wrong -- he told them that I didn't know what I was talking about and that they shouldn't come to me when they have problems), and it's hurt me quite a lot. I'm starting to think I shouldn't be putting up with this.

The salt in the wound is that I have a crush on the coworker he put me down in front of. Not sure if he knows that.

  • 2
    How certain are you that you do know what you're talking about? Keep in mind that the less competent you are, the less able you are to evaluate your own competence.
    – nick012000
    Jun 4 '19 at 11:54
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    I am aware of Dunning-Kruger, and I second guess myself all the time. But in this matter, I am not in the wrong. I believe he said what he said because I 'embarrassed him' -- corrected him -- in an email that many people were CCed on.
    – user105382
    Jun 4 '19 at 11:57
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    As written, this seems more like a rant than a question that we can actually address. Can you edit? Jun 4 '19 at 14:20
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    This manager doesn't seem very professional. Your much younger direct corrects something you said and you react by retaliating and putting him down into front of other people. This is really bad work culture... run away
    – jcmack
    Jun 4 '19 at 17:03
  • It doesn’t matter what’s “normal.” The important thing is that it’s making you feel uncomfortable and there are certainly plenty of managers who don’t behave this way. Don’t sacrifice your mental health! Jun 6 '19 at 1:46

From the comments:

I 'embarrassed him' -- corrected him -- in an email that many people were CCed on

That really wasn't a smart thing to do. Your boss is retaliating, letting you know how it feels to be publicly humiliated.

I see several choices

  1. Find another job
  2. Confront your boss and demand respect or escalate the situation
  3. Accept that this behaviour is wrong (for either of you), put up with and ignore the insults
  4. Accept that this behaviour is wrong and try to fix the problem
  5. Other - haven't thought of yet

1 is always an option, but its fairly extreme.

2 Will fail. Respect is earned, not demanded and escalation is stupid; you'd be picking a fight you can't win

3 is accepting that you're always going to be the victim. Your professional life won't improve

4 is what I would probably try. Ask for a 1-1 and apologise for the email, explaining that you now realise it was wrong and go on to say that you'll improve your professional behaviour in future - but would he please stop the public put downs. Explain what effect they're having on you. This will be hard for you if you lack confidence; you may need to use a well written email initially, then apologise in person in the 1-1.

It'll either work... or you'll know where you stand.

  • "Your boss is retaliating, letting you know how it feels to be publicly humiliated" Maybe. We only know half the story. With all due respect to the OP, the boss may have been giving legitimate instructions to the rest of the team to not ask the OP certain questions because the OP doesn't realize that they don't know the answer.
    – dwizum
    Jun 4 '19 at 17:26
  • I somewhat disagree on 2. While respect has to be earned in someway there also has to be a basic level of respect granted for a functional work environment.
    – Hans1984
    Jun 6 '19 at 12:41

This isn't normal as such, but unfortunately something a lot of people put up with, so the behavior goes unnoticed.

It is up to you to decide if you will put up with this, but keep in mind fighting back could lose you your job, which is why many people just put up with it.

  • "which is why many people just put up with it" .. and many find another job Jun 5 '19 at 6:38
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    Certainly, which would often be the better choice, but I was trying to outline why the problem persists. He asked if this was normal and not if this was acceptable behavior that he should be fine with. Jun 5 '19 at 7:16
  • Agreed & upvote Jun 5 '19 at 7:38


I have been working at the job for 2 years now

You're not new any longer. You're an established member of the team. The way you're being treated is not acceptable if it has been ongoing. I really encourage you to engage your co-workers and reach out to another leader of the organization to discuss what you're experiencing.

The existing answers are good, but I want to add some real options you have and a perspective from a manager.

First - the behavior you describe is not okay. Visible and vocal shows of disapproval or disrespect are major inhibitors of happiness and productivity in any workplace. There is no reason that you should not feel valued and respected at work.

Second, what are some real things -- in addition to what has already been offered -- that you could do?

1. Do nothing - You're new and it's not your job to manage the behavior of others on your team, including your boss. It's absolutely okay to tough it out, see if it gets better, and start searching for a new department or a new company if it doesn't.

2. Ask your coworkers for support and guidance - Share your observations and your feelings (about being put down) with your colleagues and see if they have made similar observations. They may have had similar or different interpretations of what happened. Ask your colleagues to back you up when you do have a valuable contribution, even if the boss is not acknowledging you.

3. Confront your boss - Ask for a private conversation with your boss. Offer your observations and feelings about your interactions so far. Offering objective observations ("You told me ...") and your own feelings ("... which made me feel ...") is important for keeping the conversation objective and avoiding implicit accusations. Be ready to hear your boss' perspective as well, and potentially criticism of your own behavior. Avoid getting defensive. Say "thank you for sharing that feedback" and move on from those criticisms -- they are for you to consider later.

4. Ask for help - Reach out to your recruiter, an HR team member, another supervisor or manager you're acquainted with, or just make a cold call to another experienced member of the company and ask for guidance and help. This isn't "going over your boss' head." Reaching out is about you getting guidance and support to help you feel confident and welcomed in your position.

I really encourage you to consider having a conversation with your boss or another senior member of the organization. As a manager myself, the feedback I receive from both tenured and new team members has been a huge part of my personal development. Many of the points of feedback have been very hard to hear and I didn't always handle the conversation as well as I could -- but I put in effort to change my behavior where it hurt my colleagues. I expect your manager may do the same.

Best of luck. New roles are always challenging. You've got this!


Often bosses can be nonsensitive and seeing as though you are new to the working world, it is likely that he told your co-workers not to approach you as you lack experience and knowledge.

It is clear that your boss is rude (which isn't nice) but it's quite common that bosses feel they have more right than others as they are of a higher position.

It all depends on the context, your boss could have a very good point. Or he could be being rude and ignorant. We don't know you as a person or your working habits/ability. In general I would say that you should just look for another job whilst sticking it out at your current job if you are really bothered by your boss. Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable regardless of the situation.

  • It's my first job, but I'm not new to this job. I have been working at the job for 2 years now, and I understand the system fairly well -- better than he does in many cases.
    – user105382
    Jun 4 '19 at 12:00

Never compromise your career over freaky bosses. They are meant to act the way they want. They are blessed with rare abilities to take a high performing employee and turn them into incompetent fools to demotivate and de-energize the entire team. Gone are those days where having toxic bosses and staying under a toxic workplace for long were a normal thing. Through my career, I have come across few bosses who not only make your normal life abnormal but also force you to run out of situations as soon as possible. So, here are ways you can deal with the situation before it gets out of hand-

  1. Get out of the situation while delivering results. Toxic bosses do not care about how you feel, how his behavior would impact your productivity or well-being, they don't care even if you hate them. Neither would they listen to you nor understand your emotions. All they need and care about is - results. Specifically results make them look good, consider looking into what kind of results this boss cares about the most, hunker down then deliver. While you're delivering results, keep working hard on getting out. Putting up with him can be a short-term goal but to save your future career you need to get out of the situation as soon as possible. If possible, connect with someone you trust, who will listen and empathize.

  2. Tell him what he wants to hear. Don't lie. Don't hide the truth. Give him a brief report about your progress in a positive way and focus more on what's going well rather than choosing to report on problems. Don't ask the freaky boss for any help or don't indicate anything that you don't have under control. They are a kind of person who look for ways to blame their underlings, ridiculing them for not being able to find out the solution and threatening for loss of job and every little thing that goes wrong.

  3. Do not blame yourself or your boss and stop expecting him to change. There is nothing you can possibly do to be successful in the situation except getting out of it. Getting out isn't failing or giving up, its surviving, and surviving for the rest of your career and for your betterment of your mental health. It will be stupid to expect him to change. Your toxic boss was a jerk for a long time before you accepted the job and will continue to be so even after you've moved on. He is not going to change nor its your responsibility to convince him to reform himself or see the error of his ways. Your sole responsibility is to survive.

  4. Stop caring for your current job. There will be plenty of future bosses who will give you the respect you deserve. There are jobs that will demand extra hours, lot of travelling and late meeting that will force you to miss out that special moment with your loved ones. But this is not one of those jobs, this freaky boss doesn’t require this effort, nor this job require those hours, so it is better to bail out. Focus on your friends, families and your loved ones instead. Treat this job just for short term to cover up the difficult time to pass on and move on to your life with a better opportunity that you really deserve!

Hope these ideas would relax and make your self-confidence lifted.

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