I'm still shaking when thinking of this.

The other day I had a 1:1 meeting with the boss. During the meeting, the boss gave me some bad feedback about my performance. I was really upset about the feedback and felt really bad and it showed. Then, as if the situation is not taut enough already, he said:

Well, I see this feedback is really tough for you and put you down. But do know, that if you plan to cut your veins, in order for it to be effective, you should do it like that (and he demonstrated) and not as they show in the movies.

I was in such a shock to hear this, that I didn't even know how to address this.

Maybe he was trying to make a joke, or it was a tough situation also for him, but I mean – how non-sensitive can a boss be to say such a thing to his employee (or actually to anybody)?

Is there any point in taking this to his boss or the HR of the company? I think it's pointless, but like to hear your thoughts.

  • 1
    Record the next meeting then send it to HR and CEO. Beware of the fallout.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 13:26
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    @SolarMike Recording may be illegal at OP's location. Don't give such advice without knowing the local laws. OP can insist on not being alone with their boss in future, however, as they have clearly been threatened. Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 13:52
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    Are you normally friendly and/or sarcastic with your boss? Would you joke about things? What are the chances that it was a very weird and inappropriate sarcastic joke?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 14:19
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    I'd like to add, for your mind, that no feedback is so bad as to warrant death. Your life has value. Your worth is not determined by your employability or productivity. Please find someone you can speak to - a close friend or relative - counselors can be available on short or one-time basis if that's easier. Your boss is wrong and should be fired immediately.
    – LeLetter
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 22:00
  • 2
    @nick012000 I am also Australian, and if I was confronted with someone upset and crying, my attempt at levity wouldn't be tips on how to commit suicide. And I'm just about as inappropriate as they come. Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 5:38

6 Answers 6


(While things are fresh in your mind, write it all down on paper. As many details as you can remember.)

Not that it is any excuse at all, but some people just don't know how to act in certain situations. Nobody should have to hear that.

If this is the same boss from one of your previous questions, they already sound like an idiot.

You can, of course, go to HR. But it's likely to be your word against theirs. Though, it's possible that the boss has a history of inappropriate behaviour.

The only thing that may work in your favour is if they admit to saying something inappropriate. There is a massive massive legal liability regarding your boss's actions, and the HR team may be forced to take action. But only if they can substantiate your claims.

The boss has demonstrated a callous disregard for your life, I think it would be reasonable to insist that at the absolute minimum, there are never any 1:1 meetings without a HR representative present, and if possible, you should ask for a transfer.

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    Any type of legal assessment will depend highly on the location.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 13:50
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    +1 to the "never have any 1:1 meetings without an HR representative present". This is horrible behavior. Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 13:51
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    I am missing a finishing sentence ala: If the transfer doesn't work out, polish up your resume and go.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 14:54
  • There are lots of reasons to report the boss even if you think nothing will come of it. First, HR take stuff like this seriously. If they get a report like that and ignore it, and something happens later, then the company and possibly HR people can be in legal trouble. And if enough people report stuff like then it's going to add up, but if nobody reports it nothing will happen. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 15:11
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    The job of HR is to protect the company; if you report a conflict with your boss, one of the options they'll seriously consider will be to let you go (over the next few months, at the next unrelated opportunity) Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 1:17

R U N ! ! ! !

Seriously, this shook you enough to question the basic premise of this company. If I had such a comment from a boss, I would not be able to be an effective employee anymore.

Find another job as quickly as possible - even to taking a pay cut. Living with less money but being at peace with the company is far more profitable than trying to work there any more.

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    -1. This answer acts as if OP shpuld suffer because of the boss's behaviour and would encourage the boss to act this way in future. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 10:29
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    @Studoku this answer says running is less suffering than staying with the boss. It is a big debate on how much the individual has to fix so society as a whole can become better, and how much it's acceptable that individuals do what's best for them. so even if the boss might be encouraged, it is another question if OP is the person to fight this fight or rather go to where it is best for him.
    – Benjamin
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 13:24
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    @Studoku If the OP had come with anger asking how to confront the boss, then running would be the wrong answer because that poster would have the emotional strength to confront. Here the OP talks about being badly shaken. Encouraging to run is about taking action to protect instead of folding and hiding.
    – David R
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 13:36

Write down what happened NOW with as much detail as you can remember

You'll need details as you need to begin a paper trail. Once it's written down, find an employment attorney. Many will give a free first consultation. Ask this attorney what to say use when talking to HR. Once you've talked with an attorney, contact HR.

Don't walk into an HR meeting blind. Be sure you have a basic understanding of employment law before talking to them. Don't let HR tell you what the law is - know the law before meeting them. You'll likely have to advocate for yourself.

Ask the 1:1s be done in writing, recorded, or have a 3rd party present from now on.

Start looking for another job

You need to head for the exit. HR may choose not to protect you. You need to being working under the assumption the company will find a way to protect your boss and fire you. Lean on an employment attorney. Advocate for yourself with HR while you look for another job.

HR doesn't really have that much power. Even if they protect you, the boss has back channels they can use to make your life miserable. Get out now!

  • I would say don't get an attorney until you know what HR's response will be. If they fire or move the boss then you've wasted money. And bosses rarely have back channels that allow them to get away with stuff like this. Saying things like this make the company open to lawsuits, and that is something HR works very hard to prevent. Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 15:12

That's straight out psychological abuse. He took advantage of you to fulfil his own sadistic need to see people suffer.

Talk to someone. Anyone. Preferably someone who can help you cope with this trauma.

Your boss is a bully at best and a sociopath at worst. Does he do this often? Did you hear colleagues being treated like this? Does he like seeing people suffer and blame it on company policies or hard work? If so, walk away. Find another team or another employer.

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    He took advantage of you to fulfil his own sadistic need to see people suffer. That's a judgment on motivation that no one here has any qualification to make. Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 17:09

There are two things going on here:

  1. Your bad review. Your boss mentioned something he didn't like that you didn't know until now. It's best to set up a plan to determine how to correct the situation. It's on you to determine if it is a realistic feedback and not one that is made up as an annoyance.
  2. Your boss made either a bad joke or a really rude attempt to bully you. It's unclear at this point and it sounds like it is unclear to even you. At this point, I would take it as a bad joke since he may not know how to handle the situation either. You'd only know if this behavior is consistent. It sounds like it is not based on you asking here, but if he is consistently making really bad statements to you like this one, I would simply look to leaving.

With that said, I would carefully review #1 and #2 above. We really can't determine if this is a consistent pattern and as I said earlier, it sounds like it is a 1-off event. I wouldn't take neither his negative feedback nor his statement as a bad thing right now.

What I would do is carefully examine what happened and what sort of feedback he gave. If this is your first review with him, try to work with him on setting up a plan rather than going over the negative feedback. Try to determine what you can do to improve and what you can do to move forward for a positive review.

If after determining that he review is negative and you cannot correct it because either it is made up just to be negative, then I would look into another job.

I do not recommend quitting so quickly. You still have a job, you're still getting paid, and you have wiggle room to make things right. You do not want to quit and be forced to take on any job as that may end up badly for you. You can look into your current job, make a good decision and decide that it is best to quit to move forward.

  • "Your boss made either a bad joke or a really rude attempt to bully you" - or perhaps both. "Just joking" is a well-known trick for bullying people in a deniable manner.
    – G_B
    Commented Jun 24, 2021 at 22:34
  • @GeoffreyBrent Problem is this is the first time it was done according to the OP. If it was a consistent behavior, I imagine we'd get a question about why the boss keeps making these kind of jokes in which case I would answer the OP should look for a new job. It's hard to say at this point so it is best to keep an open mind, in my opinion.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 12:32
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    Agreed, just wanted to clarify that even if established as a joke, that doesn't automatically mean it's not also abusive behaviour.
    – G_B
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 23:56

Get an employment attorney. This is illegal and it happened to me. They will be able to guide you through the process. HR must be neutral between you and your boss so an attorney is your best bet.

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