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How to deal with a boss that is brutal one minute, chewing you out for everything, saying you are quiet and then in the afternoon acting as sweet as pie. When it happened, I stuck up for myself, which I'm glad I did, because I'm tired of it. I work hard and it seems like my job is to find her mistakes. And when I make a mistake, or I don't find her mistake it is a big deal.

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  • Does she act like this for everyone? Commented Feb 1 at 3:16
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    Not enough here to work with except that you and the manager aren't communicating well. This could be simply that she doesn't hold a grudge once she has corrected you, or may be because she really doesn't see correcting you as chewing you out, or... This one needs a heck of a lot more specifics before I'd have any chance of saying something useful being the usual reminders to try not to take it personally and to remember that emphatic doesn't necessarily mean angry and angry doesn't mean they hate you forever.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 1 at 5:25
  • We need way more information that this to help answer. Commented Feb 1 at 6:07
  • Sometimes it is the company, sometimes it is you. One can't describe only the company's actions in a vacuum, as some of those actions might be in response to undesirable actions of your own. Bosses are supposed to chew out people (as a lesser punishment to firing / performance improvement plans) for small violations not worth the paper trail to harm your employment, and they are not supposed to chew out people because someone else upset them about an unrelated matter.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Feb 1 at 17:13
  • She's the type of person who has to let off steam and then she feels better. I should have caught the mistake, but I didn't and there was cascade of failures, it went through other people, and they missed it too. She makes a lot of mistakes, because she does a lot of multitasking and works until wee hours of the night. She goes crazy on other people too. Someone on another team reported her because she didn't treat their employee well. Sometimes when she gets frustrated, she calls other people retarded in other groups.
    – r1030
    Commented Feb 2 at 12:58

1 Answer 1

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So you've not given us much to go on, so I'm going to tackle a few angles - if you're able to provide more examples as to the behaviour you're experiencing or if others receive the same attitude from this boss, then others may be able to tailor their answers appropriately. I've included some pro/cons for each, but these lists are not comprehensive and there will be many other factors that could be considered.

1. Challenge the behaviour and escalate if needed

Sounds like this may be what you've attempted by standing up for yourself (and good for you) - if the intent of your boss is just to belittle you then challenging that behaviour in the moment is a good approach, if you challenge in a productive way (throwing personal insults for example won't help, but calmly questioning the logic in relation specifically to your work may cause them to rethink their approach if they are ultimately incorrect).

If you have regular 1-to-1's with this boss too, next time you have one you could also potentially highlight ways in which you like to receive feedback when there is something your boss has noticed, which may change the way they ultimately deliver the information to you.

If the direct approach doesn't work, then the next logical step is to escalate to a different manager or their superior, or a HR department.

Potential pros:

  • The behaviour stops or mitigations are put in place
  • Communication with your boss improves because you've set appropriate boundaries
  • You get experience in resolving workplace conflicts

Potential cons:

  • The behaviour doesn't stop or gets worse
  • Raising a dispute does not end up in your favour or negatively impacts you in the workplace

2. Revert to the job description

You mention your job seems to be finding your bosses mistakes, but is that actually part of your job description? Whilst it probably won't explicitly say "fix bosses mistakes" in your employment contract, it may say something along the lines of "complete other duties as required" and unfortunately I'd say mitigating/correcting errors in your department falls under that category. It's sometimes a controversial approach, but if the job description doesn't cover the scenario you've described above you could just stop correcting their work and highlighting the fact it's not what you're paid to do - sometimes letting mistakes slip through the crack draws attention to a problem that may not be visible "higher up" the chain of command.

Potential pros:

  • You don't have to fix your bosses mistakes anymore
  • Your boss makes less mistakes and becomes more accountable

Potential cons:

  • You not fixing your bosses mistakes causes a much bigger problem and you end up taking the blame
  • You risk making the problem with your boss much worse, especially if they think you aren't doing your job
  • It's actually part of your job, so disciplinary action gets taken against you

3. Accept this is part of the job

I think a lot of people in the past (including me) have had bosses that run hot and cold (as it seems like your boss is here) and part of being in the workplace is dealing with people of different personalities, even if they may potentially clash. It sounds like your boss is a bit of a nightmare, but is that possibly down to the fact that you have different ways of dealing with situations that result in conflict?

This is where examples are useful, as we may be able to glean if there's an unreasonable element to the behaviour or if you're possibly reading into something that isn't there, or actually receiving useful feedback but you don't like receiving "negative" feedback and see it as an attack instead. For example, highlighting you are quiet if you're in an industry that requires a lot of social interaction or personality (e.g. car sales) could actually be helpful feedback long term but if you already dislike your boss, what they are trying to convey may get lost and you only take away the negatives.

It may be worthwhile next time you get given "feedback", explicitly ask for pointers on how you could improve - reframe it so it's a development opportunity rather than taking it personally and you may find this brutal behaviour subsides if they think you are taking what they are saying on board.

Potential pros:

  • The behaviour de-escalates because your boss thinks they are getting through to you
  • You get skills in resilience and working with difficult people, which is a decent life skill to have
  • You may inadvertently get feedback that improves your performance

Potential cons:

  • Your boss is completely unreasonable, so asking for feedback invites more personal attacks
  • Your boss takes your eagerness to learn as an opportunity to get worse
  • Constantly asking for advice on how to improve and not getting useful feedback will likely have a negative effect on your mental health

4. Don't work for this boss anymore

So the most extreme option but always a consideration - why not just leave the situation if it's that bad? I've worded this in a way to highlight that you don't strictly have to quit your current job here, but investigate if you can get a different boss by switching departments or asking for a different line manager. If it's not possible to do so, then leaving your current employer is a last resort option if you can't deal with your boss anymore.

Possible pros:

  • You don't have to deal with this boss anymore
  • You may end up in a role/company you much prefer to this one

Possible cons:

  • If you switch deparments/teams, you may not truly get away from this boss
  • You may end up much worse off than you are currently
  • The behaviour of this boss never changes

I just want to preface again that this is just some of the potential actions/outcomes based on the information we have, and that more suitable alternatives may become apparent if more information is provided.

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