Hangs Up

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an abrupt cutoff of communication:

An employee hangs up the phone when I told him to do something he didn’t want to do like punch a time clock.

Signed, So

Dear So:

Please explain more about this situation. Who are you–the boss? Who is this individual and how well do you two get along? Are there other problems that cause you to send this question?

William Gorden

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Office Bullying

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an apology: The co-worker then issued a very fake apology. How do I respond to this?

I was recently bullied by a co-worker. Our CEO had a meeting with her to address this issue, as I am not the first to suffer at this person’s hands, and the co-worker then issued a very fake apology. How do I respond to this?

Signed, How???

Dear How???:

I assume that her apology was oral and that you already responded in some fashion; with a thank you or at least a nod. If so, I’d say no more. Wouldn’t it be best if you don’t label her apology as fake and rather interpret it as positive, even if you feel it was reluctant?

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Manager Bullies Me But HR Won’t Do Anything

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about stressed by bully boss:

I’m 19 and have currently been in my job for nearly 2 years and I’m getting bullied by my boss. I am the supervisor and it is very difficult for me to keep strong in my job while being bullied and suffering with depression anxiety etc. I’ve put up for it for long enough and now feel my health is seriously getting worse because of this. I have been to the head of the company about this loads of times but each time nothing seams to get done about it. It’s almost like because I’m 19 they don’t want to listen. I think I’m going to have to give my notice or I will get ill.

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Written Complaint About Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being accused of verbal abuse: The letter is not a direct complaint from the person who allegedly witnessed this.

I had a written complaint written to my boss that I allegedly verbally abused the disabled people I work with. I am sure this is written by my x partner’s family. Prior to me finding out about this accusation, my boss was at the same function as my x partner’s mother. The letter is not a direct complaint from the person who allegedly witnessed this. Rather it was written by a third party. There was also no date of the accusation. My boss appears to already have made up his mind that the lies are true. I have told him that I have an ongoing dispute with this lady. What can I do my x has written a statement to say he believes they are making up lies.

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Verbal Bullying and Abuse by Physician


I work with a physician. I am a co worker not a nurse. My hospital nor my company has done anything. He is very verbally abusive in front of staff and patients. Every nurse he has had has quit. He is very rude, disrespectful and demeaning in tone and language used. I have remained respectful, I am a Christian and I feel strongly about continuing to be a example to other workers. Although it is making me physically sick and my family suffers, I love my job. This doctor is hateful on every text, phone call and in person ever time which is daily, it has been years if I didn’t love my patients and know God was helping my patients through me I couldn’t have held on this long. But I can no longer continue this physician is so consistent it has broken my physical body down and I am over stressed all the time.

Please help me with what to do. I’m not afraid of him just I just want to stop this from continuing. He acts superior and embarrases me in front of staff and patients constantly. Can I do anything? How can I prove he has crossed the line? What rights do I have? Do I have to have my job in jeopardy to do something?

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Overheard Verbal Abuse of Coworker

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about verbal abuse:

I overheard a male coworker using profanity and a loud, angry tone with a female coworker who is very meek. I spoke to her to let her know that I had overheard his outbursts and was concerned. She said he had not apologized. Should I speak to the abuser directly, or ask a supervisor to handle it. I am female, but not meek. Maybe gender shouldn’t matter, but it seems to. I have never heard it, but this male coworker would probably speak like that to a meek male as well. He is often nice on the phone, but hollers and swears once he’s hung up. We are a small company, about 35 people. Should I send an email to the company officers to let them know that I have documented this incident? Should I speak to the male coworker directly? Should I send him an email? He’s not a terrible person, but he was terribly out of line. Thanks for helping.

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Bullied At Work And Getting No Support

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about discrimination and bullying:

I am a 52 year old Caucasian female who is being bullied at work by a “family” of present and former students who happen to be African American. I bring up the race issue ONLY because as a final bit of revenge against me this family reported me to our EEOC and implied I was a racist as they said I treated them differently. This is after I had to ask the local sheriff and our security to have them leave the library because they were taunting and bullying me and I stood up and would not take it anymore. I have worked for this local community college, in the library, for more than 11 years part time. After being bullied by the mother for years and now the oldest daughter who was a student and possibly even an employee last year, I contacted my superiors for he help. I did this only after they brought a group of 6-8 to terrorize me in the library.

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Mr. Genius Is Not That Smart

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about verbally abusive new employee:

Six months ago my company hired a man on recommendation of a coworker. Maybe two times every week, this particular person verbally abuses my coworkers by telling them things about themselves that he does not like. He also uses the computer system like his personal toy, and so he makes some mistakes as well. He goes to the boss and complains that he was not trained on something, never admitting he really violated the procedures. Since this work has many pieces to it, when a mistake is made, he often comes to me without saying hello, and just juts his arm out and says “Can you tell me why this happened”?

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Student Doctor Verbally Abused Me


I’m a nurse who was verbally abused by a student doctor while we were on duty. What should I do?


Seeking Assistance


Dear Seeking Assistance:

What you do will depend upon the totality of the situation and what you mean by verbally abusive. Your main options are to go to your supervisor about it, talk to the doctor directly about it, avoid working around him, or find a way to reduce contact with him and be certain not to give him an excuse for his mean behavior. If he does it again, you certainly should go to your supervisor or manager.

I tend to think he should be made aware by someone, if not you, that his behavior was demoralizing, demeaning and harmful for the situation since medical work requires cooperation not conflict.

One thing that will help you will be to write down exactly what he said and how he said it as well as the total situation and any witnesses. That way, if you do talk to your supervisor or director/manager, you’ll have specifics for them to consider.

At the same time, be certain that his reactions were genuinely abusive (foul language, a threatening tone, yelling, repeated verbal attacks, etc.) and not just angry or critical of something you did. That is especially true if he was angry about a serious mistake.

We receive many letters about the rude treatment of nurses and medical staff by doctors, including doctors in training. It would seem that a medical training facility would be on the alert for such out-of-control behavior, but apparently that is a low priority in many cases.

On the other hand, we receive many letters from nurses and medical staff who complain about coworkers who are rude and unprofessional. So, unfortunately unpleasantness happens at all levels.

There may not be much that can be done to permanently stop the doctor’s offensive behavior. But, you can at least find ways to protect yourself emotionally by focusing on the best part of work and the people who deserve your support. The doctor in training won’t be there forever and you can only hope that as he matures he gains character and compassion. But, for that to happen, he needs to be made aware that what he said to you (if he said things that were demeaning and hurtful) showed neither character nor compassion, even if he felt justified in it.

Best wishes to you with this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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Is It Verbal Abuse To Call A Coworker Bi-Polar?


Can one coworker call another coworker “bi-polar”?


Wondering About A Term


Dear Wondering About A Term:

The totality of the circumstances would dictate whether telling someone they are acting as though they have bipolar disorder was done to show disrespect or ridicule or if it was said for other reasons. If it has been said repeatedly and used as a weapon against someone, then yes, I think it is verbal abuse. If it is said even once, without the intent to solve a problem, just to be mean, then certainly it’s rude and inappropriate.

If you work for a company that is large enough to have rules and policies about treating each other with respect, such a remark might come under one of those rules. If you work in a very small business, it would be up to the boss whether that remark is something he or she wants to reprimand an employee about. Hopefully if it has happened many times, he or she will see how wrong it has been. Usually when something like that is said, there are many more problems than just that one remark and those problems are what should be addressed. If someone accuses a coworker of being bipolar, they’re not talking about being late or being slow with work. They’re almost always talking about behavior that they think is disruptive, unpleasant, bizarre or worrisome. If you’re the one being told that, consider what led up to it as you consider what to do about it.

If it was just a one time thing, completely out of context, it probably was just something to say to bother you and won’t be said again. You need to be concerned about the problems that caused it, but at least you know the word meant nothing to either of you. But, if it was said in seriousness it is something to seriously consider.

One of the most common complaints we get about coworkers is that they are nice enough sometimes but terrible to work with the rest of the time. We hear terms like “moody”, “out of control”, temperamental”, “hot and control”, “impossible to get along with”, “completely out of touch with reality”, and tacked on to those is often the label, “bipolar”.

That doesn’t mean the diagnosis is accurate; it’s just an employee saying something that fits what they’ve read about bipolar disorder. But it often points to problematic behavior that has gone unchallenged for a long time. Or, it can be used to express concern that someone is getting worse in their depression or manic actions.

Talk to your manager about it and tell him what was said. Let him or her know that the term was offensive because the employee had no business making a judgment about your mental or emotional condition. At the same time, ask your manager to give you honest feedback about your behavior and performance. If there are no problems, then figure you have a coworker who doesn’t like you and just said something to be nasty and the employee should be told to not say it again. If your manager talks to you about concerns, figure your coworker might have said something others are thinking.

I’m not implying that you have bipolar disorder or even that you’re in the wrong in any way. But you can bet there is some long-standing conflict if it was said at all. You may be able to get the coworker reprimanded and rightfully so. But, that won’t fix what started it all to begin with.

Do yourself a favor and see if you can find a way to correct the conflict or at least to deal with it in a way that it doesn’t result in angry accusations. The other person was wrong to use a term that could cause hurt or that is untrue but sounds offensive. Push back to ensure that doesn’t happen again because labeling people is never a good thing. But also see if you can do something about what caused the labeling in the first place.

Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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