Benefits of Eliminating Hostile Language:
Better health at a low cost:
-Angry cynical people are five times as likely to die under 50 as people who are calm and trusting.
-The data have been there for years: People with close, stable, supportive relationships live longer and suffer less illness than loners.
-Scientists have long noted an association between social relationships and health. More socially isolated or less socially integrated individuals are less healthy, psychologically and physically, and more likely to die.
-Communication is vitally linked to our bodies and is probably the single most important force that influences our health or lack of health… There is no cause of death that does not kill people who are lonely at significantly higher rates than those who had satisfying lives with others.
-People who are cynical or have hostile attitudes or suppressed anger have been found to have more atherosclerosis and blockage of coronary arteries. And they are more likely to experience heart attacks.
She goes on to say that “constant sarcasm, constant belittling, constant nagging, are just as dangerous as the constant shouted obscenities that are more common as part of a pattern of physical abuse.”
Does Having a "Good" Attitude Pay Off?
My 2 cents are to the point and delivered in their usual negative, but upbeat style. Of course, they are in direct response to the previous – and damaged - 2 years of my career.
1. I am in charge of my destiny.
I got news for you… you’re really not.
2. Anything is possible.
Yes. Anything IS possible. Do not think that you will be rewarded one day and not thrashed the next – regardless of the amazing work you’ve done or if you’ve invented the wheel. Your career can go rapidly down the tubes with no warning.
3. No task is too small to do well.
Actually, it IS if you’ve been thrown a few steps back in your career. You can find yourself doing work that you’d done years ago.
4. Everyone is a potential key contact.
Wrong. Everyone is a potential key threat.
5. I was made to do this job... and the one above me.
Please – I was made to do this job and YOURS, boss : )
6. It's not just what I know, but who I know.
This is certainly true. It’s always good to forge strong alliances along the way. That way when you need to bail (or you get tossed on your arse), you can call on them for help.
7. What else can I do?
It doesn’t matter what you do. If you’re liked, you’ll succeed. If you’re not, you can forget it. And oh yeah - you better make sure your parachute opens because when you do fall, you fall fast!
8. Failure will help pave the way to my success.
That sounds nice in theory. No, I take that back. My failures have paved the way to my new business. No more will I have to answer to a bat-$#%@-crazy manager.
9. I am my own biggest fan.
I should be… in tough times I'm my ONLY fan.
10. My opportunity monitor is never turned off.
You might not be able to do anything about those opportunities, but you can sure watch as others grab onto them and soar in their careers.
Wow, I sound bitter. Perhaps I am, but my experiences made me realize that all the good sense in the world will do nothing if those you report to have none. So, is this bad stuff? Maybe. But I do look forward to the day when I walk out of that place for the last time and embark on a career that I wouldn’t have thought of, had my Idiot Boss not put me on this path.
In the end, that’s good stuff.
Things People Want to Say to the Boss
Unfortunately, I cannot claim these as my own but I had to share them since they gave me a hearty laugh. This comes from my friends over at toxicboss.com:
Things People Want to Say to the Boss
- Call a proctologist. You need the stick removed from your ass.
- Please try to find another career that doesn't involve people.
- If I didn't have a sense of dignity, I'd have smashed your face into a wall at least a thousand times. Oh yes, and f*** off!"
- Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
- You are the reason we're losing employees.
- You are the weakest link. Goodbye!
- Get counseling, stay on your lithium, and remember when you powder your nose, don't snort.
- I've probably forgotten more than you'll ever know.
- You are unkind, uncaring, disloyal, hypocritical, inconsistent, impatient, impersonal, irrational, insincere, and prideful. In a few less words, you suck as a boss.
- Maybe if you weren't such a tyrant, I might feel more positive about my job and about you.
- What the hell happened to you in your childhood?
- Get out of my way and let me do my job.
- You need to seek professional help for your need to control your environment.
- The reason I am taking antidepressants is because of you.
- Combine low salary with a hostile, stressful work environment, and your bright employees will leave. The not-so-bright ones are left behind, perhaps explaining your high position in the organization.
- Your personal skills are a joke, you couldn't manage an ant farm!
- Become human!
- We only act like idiots because you treat us like idiots.
- If I acted like you, I'd want to hurt myself.
- The lost-and-found just called and said they had found a spine. They were wondering whether it was yours.
- Take a course in dealing with humans.
- You are an insensitive, anal retentive a**hole who lacks the ability to manage even a one-block paper route!
- On a daily basis, thousands of innocent people are killed or maimed in various accidents...why not you?
- Find employees who don't intimidate you.
- If you were on fire, I wouldn't piss on you. Instead, I'd purchase marshmallows and invite everyone else to eat.
- You are a small and petty person with deep-rooted emotional problems. You'll die penniless and alone. Don't worry, though - I'm sure you'll see it all as someone else's fault.
- I hope your cat gets pregnant with your child.
- I hope a flesh-eating virus infects you.
- Please allow me to feel good about myself and the job I do, without being resentful of my good feelings and self-esteem.
- Your controlling demeanor needs to be looked at, probably in intense therapy.
- I personally would not be upset if you choked on a chicken bone!
After the Root Canal…
After I came back and was berated by the Idiot Boss for having a root canal that she knew of in advance, she told me to report immediately into a meeting with the Director of our accounts department.
The reason for the meeting was to settle a dispute over the name of an account. Due to variations on the name in our system, it was creating confusion in the back room on how to process reports related to it.
The decision to alter this information does not lie within my department… rather the Director’s department. With bureaucratic red tape what it is, it’s not a simple matter nor is it one that anyone wants to own.
So, enter myself, Miss Manager and the Newbie Manager in our department. We met with this Director and 4 members of his staff.
We arrived at the Director’s office before his staff did. My Idiot Boss went headstrong into her loony diatribe when the Director asked her to wait until the others joined us. She heard it, but she didn’t acknowledge it. She continued right on until the Director told her for a second time to wait. So right there we’re off to a nice start.
When everyone else got there and things picked right back up, I was mortified by her behavior. It wasn’t overtly brutal or nasty… but in her way of trying to drive the point home, she really hit them over the head – like she was speaking to a group of children. They knew what she was getting at – anyone would have known. But for some reason, she didn’t lay off and eventually the Director cut the meeting short and escorted us out.
(As a sidebar, I should note that this particular Director and the 4 members of his staff, are 5 of the 6 individuals that I ran into last summer while on an interview. See > Priceless < They were visiting clients. So as I’m sitting in this meeting now – and in pain as the novocaine wore off from the root canal – I was looking at them for some recognition like, “OH – so THAT’s why she’s looking to leave the company”. But I couldn’t discern any sympathy going on there. They looked like they were in the same agony that I felt everyday in Idiot Manager’s presence)
I never said a word during that meeting, and neither did the Newbie Manager. But after we left, Mr. Newbie commented how curt he thought the Director had become toward us. My head was spinning – was he NOT in that meeting and witness what had happened? My bat-$#%@-crazy manager was impolite (and that’s putting it politely). No wonder we were escorted out!
The subject came up with Mr. Newbie again the next day. As he and I were discussing it, he realized how strong she did in fact come across. My guess is that this new guy is just playing it super-safe while he’s still in Idiot Boss’ good graces.
He’s still in his honeymoon phase. He brings his laptop home in case something for work comes up.
That’s just crazy.
Difficult Personalities: The Criticizer
If you have a creative approach or different/better way of doing something, The Criticizer will knock it (and you) down. Their mission is to disagree with anything that is said. He likes to be right, no matter what. He finds problems wherever he goes, never opportunities. The Criticizer will never give you positive feedback but will always jump on your mistake. His favorite saying is "Bad idea."
Colleague: Let's drive instead of flying. We'll get there faster.
Criticizer: What, are you crazy?
Colleague: Why do you say that?
Criticizer: It's just a bad idea.
Colleague: OK. Let's fly up tonight so we can be fresh for tomorrow afternoon's presentation.
Criticizer: Where are you coming from? Bad idea.
Criticizer: Trust me on it. You have less experience. Your thinking is illogical.
Colleague: Please be specific and explain yourself.
Criticizer: What? Now you can't understand me? What's wrong with you?
A Criticizer likes to give negative feedback, but he is rarely is specific.
1- Ask him for examples, evidence, or his reasoning for disagreeing.
2- Emphasize that you want to incorporate his concerns to make the project as good as possible.
You must be persistent and not give up. He will find it hard to come up with examples or to explain his criticisms. When you ask for details about what he is saying he will often back down with an unproductive criticism.
All along, you emphasize that you value his opinion and want to understand his concerns. You say this as politely as possible. Eventually, he'll see that it's too much work to criticize you, because you always press him for more information. Information that he can't give.
This is the solution given. Or, this will give him fuel to further bury you into the ground. Hard to say how it’ll turn out. If you try it, let me know how it works for you.
You know where to find me.
When I Grow Up...
… I Wanna Be a Micromanager!!!
Let me see if I have what it takes to be a good micromanager:
As a person:
-I have little to no confidence in myself and my abilities. I’m miserable with who I am and the life I lead, and don’t you dare tell me I need to “improve” myself.
-I am an introvert. I’m not the life of the party, people call me a wallflower.
-Management is a people skill - it’s not the job for someone who doesn’t enjoy people. Actually, I think I should be placed in charge of others so I can belittle them to make myself feel better about my shortcomings.
-I am not always honest or straight forward. It depends on what my manager tells me to say. I don’t care if others trust me or not.
-I am an EXcluder not an INcluder. No one needs to know what I’m up to unless I say so. If I need anyone to do a project, I will withhold crucial information needed to complete the job. Let the suckers figure it out for themselves. They’re here for my amusement anyway, no?
-Managers must lead. I tell my staff exactly where to go and I check up on them every ten minutes. Status reports are not unfamiliar words in my vocabulary. Bathroom breaks must be included on these.
On the job:
-I am consistently rigid; my staff can depend on me changing my mind. I make all decisions, don’t even bother telling me what you think, I don’t care.
-I am a little bit crazy, what some people might call compulsive. If I try new things at all and they fail, I blame the error on anyone that I can… even if they’ve left the company over a year ago.
-I make plans and schedules and work toward them. As for my staff, I will raise obstacles at every turn so that they cannot achieve their goals. Then, come review time I’ll badger them for it and justify why they shouldn’t receive a raise.
-I view information as a tool to be used as I see fit. I will decide if I need to let my “team” in on anything.
Wow… I think the only challenge left for myself in a management role is to see how many bright, ambitious and talented individuals I can derail and trod on. Luckily for me, there are many companies that will not only hire me, but promote me into roles where I will manage teams of people.
They don’t know how lucky they are.
Welcome to the Toolbox
One of the reasons I was placed in hell (other than drawing the unlucky short-stick for the past 2 years), is because someone failed to do their job which put me in the direct line of fire with Miss Manager.
In order for me and my team to complete the project at hand, we needed information from a Third Party individual who also works in my department. This Third Party supplied us with incorrect information THREE TIMES and then proceeded to LIE ABOUT ME to my boss to cover their ass.
Isn’t that delightful?
Knowing what you folks know about my situation, you can imagine how well this went over with my bat-$#@%-crazy manager. Even though the Third Party person was blatantly WRONG, it fueled the doubts already in Miss Manager’s mind about me.
Then, as I went to my Idiot Boss to tell her – for the 3rd time – that the information given to us was incorrect, she mentioned that she spoke to HER manager about it. Apparently, whatever we saw as “incorrect” on the report wasn’t in fact “wrong”. Oh really? When we received it we were told that it was the “final” version. So, when “Point A” is actually supposed to be “Point B”, it’s NOT wrong? When I asked my manager this, she only shrugged her shoulders. That’s just great.
What I’d like to know is, why are they protecting the Third Party so much? How did they get to be the pet?
What’s even nicer is that I was passed over for a promotion by this bright and shining Third Party last year. It’s nice to see how hard work, dedication and having half a brain pay off.
In a book titled Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates… and Other Difficult People by Dr. Roy H. Lubit, he describes the core characteristics of an obsessive-compulsive personality as:
1 – Excessive focus on details and rules that interferes with the real objective.
2 – Rigid insistence that his or her own way should be followed.
3 – Difficulty with spontaneity and warm emotions.
4 – Exaggerated focus on work and achievement.
5 – Indecisiveness.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have a winner!!! This describes my bat-$#@%-crazy manager, how about yours?
Dr. Lubit also says that:
“…managers with compulsive personalities both micromanage and fail to provide the support subordinates need to perform at their best… The atmosphere these managers create is stifling.”
“Compulsive individuals excessively focus on details and are unable to see the big picture. They are also weak at knowing which details are important and which are not.”
He goes on to say that once you get on the bad side of a compulsive individual, it’s very difficult to redeem yourself (don’t I know it!).
The problem that I have with the doctor’s analysis is not how he describes this type of manager, but the way he explains how to deal with these people.
Be responsive to their values and fears by phrasing things in ways they understand and can relate to. Stress punctuality with work. Indicate how important the work is, not whether or not you like it.
Here’s something for them to respond to: YOU ARE IN THE WAY OF ME DOING MY JOB!!! I can’t stress punctuality as you like so much since you seek to sabotage my team meeting any deadlines. I can completely fake it about it being important since you already know that I hate it – thanks to you.
Since they have limited trust in others, you need to fill them in on the details of what you are doing. The micromanagement might seem silly, but it’s better to go along with it.
No – they need to learn how to function in mainstream society. I shouldn’t have to change what’s “normal” to fit in with that idiocy. It may be better to “go along with it”, but you will be miserable! True, you cannot change your manager, but you don’t have to stay there either.
Compulsive managers prefer information in written format.
Please don’t remind me of this one! Written documentation may be a good way to go, but these people love email SO much that they will bury you in it. They will want an answer for everything, but then they’ll wonder why your work isn’t complete since you apparently had the time to respond to 31 of their emails.
Follow rules to the letter: Never come in late or leave early. Never complain about staying late. Never say that you want to spend time relaxing or having fun.
Yeah – because that sounds like something to look forward to everyday. PLEASE sign me up for that job!!! Just one thing Dr. Lubit… you forgot to tell me to check my humanity at the door because apparently you’re not allowed to have any working for these kinds of people.
I’m so wound up about this that I’m drafting a letter to this guy. I wonder… do you think he’s had the joy of reporting to a compulsive manager? No doubt, this man has impressive credentials (his portfolio is available online at http://www.jurispro.com/uploadresume/Roy%20Lubit8.pdf ) and I’m sure he’s smart as a whip. However, I find it very hard to believe that this is advice that can be followed – successfully. From my experience, there is no winning with these types of people. They just want you to lose and to continue doing so. If you follow this advice, then that would also make you compulsively stupid.
on jobschmob.com in their “Share Your Story” section http://www.jobschmob.com/showArticle.cgi?id=584
In regards to my story, I really thought that I portrayed well the negative attitude I received - from my point-of-view. Let me rephrase that. I really believed that it sounded negative from ANY point-of-view.
For those of you who know me, you’re aware of my work situation. You’re also aware of my work ethic and honesty. It is probably this reason that many of you expressed anger/surprise at what happened. However, the real outrage of that story was how I was treated when I returned to the office after being fitted for a crown at my dentist’s office.
Yesterday I went back to jobschmob.com to see how many views it received and if there were any comments added. There were. This is where I got burned.
The following comment was left yesterday:
solomon (01/08/2006) “why should people get paid when they aren't working? why should you be sympathetic when you expect someone to be back at work and they are nowhere to be found? What happened to an honest day's pay for an honest day's work?”
When is it EVER ok for anyone to speak to you like that? (I’m referring now to my story). We’re adults, and we deserve to be treated as such. It’s really frightening to think that there are people in this world that have lost their human quality.
Where do you suppose it’s gone?
Abusive behavior in the workplace can take many forms. It can be outright physically violent and threatening, or it can be more subtle in the form of overly critical statements and negative comments about work performance or character traits.
Let’s look at verbal abuse: What is it? It is language that:
It attacks on the personal level – not on the issue.
Are you being verbally attacked? If you step out of a meeting with your boss/co-worker and feel that you’ve been zinged, chances are you have been.
Watch for these signs:
Does your boss/co-worker cut you down at every opportunity whether in public or private?
Do you get baited?
Are your best efforts met with destructive criticism?
Whether founded or unfounded, verbal abuse is counter-productive!
If you’re being verbally attacked be careful:
Respond – do not react
Avoid “negative” language
Find the positives
Be alert and
STICK TO THE ISSUE AT HAND
It’s important not to go off on a tangent – or allow the abuser to do so. It will be easier to cut that individual off or debunk their “argument” if you refuse to go on their little trip.
BREATHE: You cannot be responsible for abusive individuals or the things that they will do or say. But you are in charge of your own reaction. Do not allow them to derail you.
Call a time-out for yourself: Sometimes things seem clearer once the dust settles.
Reconvene the meeting with the abusive individual if that’s possible.
Again – STICK to the issue!
It’s also important to remember that you are not at fault and you’re not crazy. I have gone through this and believe me, I know how ugly this can be.
Try to hang in there.
What Makes a Bully?
In previous posts I’ve used names to describe Idiot Bosses, Toxic Managers and other sociopaths that we call our supervisors.
Today, with some help from Sam Horn’s book Taking the Bully by the Horns, I’d like to take a brief look at why they are the way they are. Ultimately, I don’t really care. It’s not my problem these people are bullies and it’s certainly not my burden. But, it’s interesting information nonetheless and I’m going to share it with you.
What Makes a Bully?
Lack of Self-Confidence:
Confident people feel good about who they are and how they live their lives. Bullies lack confidence so they therefore gang up on those of us that don’t in order to make themselves feel better.
Does your boss find fault with everything that you do? Under the strongest microscope, it is inevitable that you will find some fault with everyone. These individuals exist to do just that and then exploit it.
For example, my Idiot Manager will look through a 500 page report that I’ve submitted and then complain that I didn’t bold the font on one page’s header, but I did on all the other 499. She’ll then use that to say that I lack attention to detail.
I have another example that I can’t fail to use: Grammatical corrections. She’ll find some minute fault with every email possible. I’ve dug up old emails that she’s sent out and updated the information and sent it out. She’ll call me up and say that I should have phrased the memo differently. When I tell her that it was her email I’ve used, she’ll laugh nervously but still emphasize her point. I should also note, I got the idea to do this from others who have worked for her in the past. I love that one.
They Don’t Care:
People who bully do not possess a sense of empathy or guilt. They either don’t think they’re bullying, don’t care or they simply enjoy doing it.
I’ve asked my bat-$#@%-crazy manager to cease-and-desist when she does this to me, but she has yet to stop. Worse yet, she has the backing of her supervisor to continue demeaning and belittling me.
No Negative Consequences:
If no one’s going to stop them, the bullying will continue.
In my case, I took the proper route and documented everything and addressed it with Inhuman Resources. What happened: I was placed on written warning for insubordination. Then HR told me that my manager was allowed to say whatever she wanted about me and they would stand behind her - without even listening to my side of the story.
Bullies are Arrogant:
I don’t give my Idiot Boss enough credit for this… but, since in the previous point there are no negative consequences, she will continue to beat me down and use me for a welcome mat.
They Have a Certifiable Psychological or Biological Problem:
I’m just not even going to go here… you’re probably bright enough to know what this could mean.
Have a nice day.
A Course Book in Mis-Management
Then I did a little research and found it: A course book in Mis-Management (at an institution that shall remain nameless). In order to receive a degree in this major, credits are required in the following areas:
School Yard Domination (1st and 2nd year students only)
Power Trips 101
Mastery of Illusion (Works especially well with Power Trips 101)
World Dictators (Emphasis on modern leaders: Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, etc)
Dictatorship (This class is for seniors only. Must complete World Dictators to be eligible for enrollment in this class)
Delusions of Grandeur
Brow Beating (available to students at every level)
Micromanagement (In order to be considered for acceptance into this class, a written paper is required on the topic: 101 Ways to Undermine Your Staff)
De-Motivation (Training is geared toward those individuals bent on thwarting any bright and ambitious worker that will report to them in the future).
In addition to the available courses, the school of Mis-Management also allows immediate membership into the student society of "National Idiot Bosses Association". Upon graduation, automatic membership to NIBA is granted. Those students that graduate with (dis)honors will receive a 15% discount on membership.
Acceptance into these schools weigh psychiatric evaluations very heavily. Only those narcissistic, deranged, borderline personality, sociopathic individuals will be considered. All others need not bother. Thank you very much.
Your Job is Doomed
- Woody Allen
Does this mean I’m out?
Excerpted from "Career Comeback" by Bradley G. Richardson:
(I bolded the points relevant to me)
- Your boss, mentor, or champion leaves or is suddenly rendered powerless.
- You fail to meet expectations or are a poor performer.
- You are on progressive discipline (verbal or written warning).
- You find yourself increasingly out of the loop.
- You are given a less desirable or lucrative territory.
- Your compensation structure changes dramatically.
- You are watched and micromanaged where you once had freedom.
- You are given new, unattainable goals or targets.
- You get a new boss who comes from the outside.
- You are in an underperforming unit.
- You are in a nonrevenue- producing or overstaffed unit.
- You are in a remote office.
- You have the least tenure or were the last one hired.
- You have a significant salary.
- You are no longer included in future plans or upcoming projects.
- You are passed over for a promotion.
- You fail to accept a position or relocation.
- Your opinion is now worthless.
- You are reassigned to a lower- profile project.
- You are demoted.
- You are given a "take it or leave it" or "no win" option.
- Management makes your life a living hell.
You find yourself increasingly out of the loop
Per Kate Lorenz (writer for Careerbuilder.com), if you find yourself shut out of meetings and the last to know what’s going on, the company may be preparing for life without you. I had this very thing happen to me and then my Idiot Boss lied about it to my face. Nice.
You are passed over for a promotion
I worked for 5 years in a pioneering role within my department. When a promotion did become available, it went to someone who was with the company for 8 months and who had NO experience in that particular role. You can imagine how that made me feel.
You are demoted / You are in an underperforming unit / You are reassigned to a lower- profile project
After I was rejected for a promotion, I was involuntarily moved into a different, less desirable role. The position I had been in offered high visibility where this new role gave me none. On top of that, I was placed in charge of under-performing individuals – who are incidentally, no longer with the company.
You are watched and micromanaged where you once had freedom
To quote Kate Lorenz, “If you have always had a great deal of autonomy in the past and are now being scrutinized at every turn, there might be a serious reason behind this new form of management. Whether you feel you need your hand held or not, new scrutiny in the workplace can sometimes mean less confidence in your abilities.” What I don’t understand is, after all this time, why is it my management still refuses to provide examples of where I fall short? I’m not entirely sure that this means lack of confidence in my abilities or if it’s just that they want me out.
You have received one or more negative reviews
Once again per Kate, “If you have multiple bad reviews under your belt and still haven't learned from them, your days probably are numbered. Just as bad, if you've had stellar reviews in the past and suddenly you are no longer regarded as a star performer, watch out!” It’s true, if you have received a poor performance review you need to find out why. If your supervisor lays out a map of where you went wrong and what you can do to improve, then it’s in your best interest to sit up and take notice. On the other hand, if your supervisor fails to provide this information then that too sends a strong message. So definitely “watch out” if this is happening to you – your company may be setting you up for involuntary departure.
You are on progressive discipline (verbal or written warning)
As with your performance review, if your manager provided you with a solid outline of where you’ve fallen short, pay attention. Are these valid points? If they are, then do what you need to in order to stay employed - if that's what you want. If not, take this as a sign that they want you out. You can try to take your case to human resources if you think they’ll listen. But be careful as they may side with your boss. Personally, I think it's better to stand up and fail then to do nothing. If it fails though, then it might be time to re-think your job and start looking elsewhere for employment. Trust me on this one – it’s not a good sign.
If you truly feel you’re being pushed out of your job then the best solution is to probably leave. It’s unfair, but that doesn’t mean you should stay and prove them wrong. Chances are, you’ll lose.