The last few weeks, I had a few opportunities to notice that my new boss is not particularly polite towards me in a context of the etiquette of the country I live in (France¹; my boss is French—born there and lived there all his life). For instance:

  1. On several occasions, when I started talking to him, he just turned back and left, as if I wasn't there,

  2. He had made several unkind remarks which are perfectly OK between close friends, but not between colleagues who barely know each other.

  3. He never says “Thank you” when I help him with something (something I'm absolutely not obliged to do by contract), nor “Please” in situations where most French persons would say “Please” (such as in “Give me the salt, please” during a corporate dinner),

I have an impression the first two points occur only when he's in a bad mood. The third point seems independent of his mood.

I tried to figure out if he's like this only towards me, or to anyone. I'm not sure yet, but it seems that it has nothing personal and he deals the same way with every subordinate except a few persons he's close to. If he was behaving this way towards me only, I think the solution would be to simply ask him for a reason; if we assume on the other hand that this has nothing personal and he deals similarly to most subordinates, I imagine that, for me, talking to him about his way to communicate with others would only make things worse.

The thing which disturbs me the most is that my subordinates and pairs can see him behaving this way towards me, and believe that it's OK, and start dealing with me in a similar manner.

How do I prevent that from happening?

Is there something else I'm missing? I'm afraid to acting too emotionally and missing something which would be too obvious for an outsider.

¹ This is especially important for the third point. French etiquette requires to use words such as “Thank you” and “Please” a lot. For example, in a supermarket, a customer and a cashier would usually start by a “Good morning/afternoon”, and end by a mutual “Thank you, have a good day” or “Thank you, good bye”. As I understand it, etiquette in USA doesn't make all those things mandatory, and I imagine that it could probably even be OK to ask something without a “Please”.

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    You say you both live in France. Are both you and your boss from France? Just trying to first rule out cultural differences in what is or is not considered rude.
    – David K
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 19:55
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    @DavidK: He's from France and lived there his whole life. I come from a different country but lived in France since I was a child. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 19:58
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    You have options with your subordinates. You can absolutely take them aside and let them know that such behavior isn't acceptable. Not sure the right way to handle your boss in your country.
    – NotMe
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 20:07

1 Answer 1


This is a tough one. If he behaves this way toward everyone, it's not likely that you speaking up will have much effect. Your choices are likely:

  1. Tolerate it as best you can. Perhaps you will outlast him.
  2. Leave the company or transfer away to a different department.

You could try to very tactfully point out specific instances where he seemed rude. That is the key. Saying "You seem rude at times" or something similar won't have near the impact as "this morning you walked away while I was talking to you. Is everything OK between us? Did I do something to offend you?"

Good luck. I hope you get some positive resolution to this. Can't be fun to go to work each day with a boss like that...

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