Boss Causing Anxiety

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss’ abuse: Her behaviour is causing my anxiety to increase; what can I do. Is this bullying?

I have been in my job for over 7 years now and almost two years ago my manager changed. Under my old manager I carried out duties of Business Manager as well as my own duties so I must not be bad at my job.

My new manager has taken out a first stage disciplinary on me four months ago, and at this, I pointed out that I was under Doctor’s care because of anxiety and am on anti-depressants. Because of the way things have been at work this is causing me to feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. My boss has called me a liar and on at least three occasions has shouted at me. This is all since the disciplinary. She is now going to the next stage disciplinary. Her behaviour is causing my anxiety to increase; what can I do. Is this bullying? Even non-staff members have commented on the way she speaks to me.

Signed, Stressed

Dear Stressed:

Since your boss has begun disciplinary action and you are under a doctor’s care, it would seem appropriate for you to seek advice. Have you consulted with any department charged with personnel matters and/or a company medical center? If your work organization is of sufficient size there should be some form of employee assistance, and you deserve that because you’ve been employed there for seven years and performed responsibly under your old boss.

Apparently under this new boss things have not gone well. Did your boss confer with you and set forth a plan to correct the performance problem that was the cause for discipline? How have you responded to her? It would be good for you to compile an account of interaction with her and make copies of evaluations as far back as you have them. Be as specific as you can as to when and what provoked your boss’s action and of her language, the way you responded and any witnesses.

You ask is your boss’ calling you a liar and shouting at you bullying? Repeated acts of this sort coupled with disciplinary action indicate a bully-like pattern. Therefore, you have ample reason to request an investigation of her treatment of you. It probably would be best to request an investigation in more general terms in writing to the appropriate department, Human Relations or Personnel, and to ask for an interview.During an interview you should have a copy of your account ready, but should keep one for yourself.

Meanwhile don’t gossip about this matter with coworkers. Rather focus on doing good work. Also use this stress as motivation for getting well. That might entail a healthy regimen, getting off antidepressants if the doctor recommends, exercise and doing activities that you enjoy: singing in a choir, dancing, yoga, reading, hobbies, and other ways to pamper yourself.

Work is hard enough without the stress of a boss who causes you to work scared of being fired. So is it not time to seek help from within or outside your workplace? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that means doing your part to help your boss manage her temper and for you to cope with her criticism if reasonable in ways that make you both want to come to work.

William Gorden