Can My Employer Say Degrading Stuff to Me?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being blamed and degraded: I was once called a “piece of sh*t” by a supervisor, reported it and was told to “grow up”.

I was once called a “piece of sh*t” by a supervisor, reported it and was told to “grow up”. I was also told that my actions were causing us to lose contracts but when I asked how many were lost by me the question was dodged because I haven’t lost any contracts. This is degrading to me. Why am I being told I’m causing a situation that I’m not?

Signed, Why?

Dear Why?:

I don’t know why, but I do know that is not good supervisory language. Also as to being told you were causing contracts to be lost, that indicates you and your supervisor don’t see eye-to-eye about your performance. From here, it’s impossible to know what you did or didn’t do that provoked your boss to describe you with a foul four-letter word. Reporting that on your supervisor probably was not appreciated.

You can complain to coworkers and friends, but that won’t improve how your boss or others feel about you. Do you need this job? Is it something you can do well? If so, it’s time to learn why you are disrespected and if it is your boss who is to blame or you. In short you need to request a time-out talk with your supervisor. Ask him or her what you are doing right and what is not so good. Ask if it was wrong for you to report his calling you a piece of shit. Ask if he would report you if you called him the same thing. This should lead to a talk about how you talk to and about each other. Ask for straight talk about if your boss sees any future for you. Ask for what you must do to earn her/his respect. Ask if you might meet for a few minutes once a week to get assignments straight and to review how well you have or haven’t completed them. All too frequently, when we feel that a boss doesn’t like us we try to avoid him/her. That only makes things worse.

Rather, it is best to communicate more often. What I’m suggesting is that talk and talk about talk is intended to make things clear and to increase a boss’ knowledge of what is going on.

Just this morning, I got a follow up reply from an individual who wrote that she had gotten a promotion. Why? This was a follow up note because several months ago she had written she was seen by her supervisor as a jerk. She had looked in the mirror and taken responsibility for why she was seen that way and she changed her behavior. I predict that you too can think through and work through this bad boss-bossed relationship, if you can approach it as a problem-solver rather than as a victim.

Does this make sense? Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that is what you want where you work. But getting to that place isn’t just a matter of luck. It takes guts and taking responsibility to engage your supervisor in getting beyond ego to WEGO.

Follow Up: Thank you for your response. Unfortunately it isn’t an issue of seeing eye to eye about performance. My boss knows very well that I haven’t lost any contracts. He is known for saying things that are untrue to get people to do or react in the way he wants them to. All of my coworkers are unhappy with the job and it all stems from him. There is very little we can do because he IS the top man, there is no one we can go to over him since it is a family owned business. In case there was any confusion, the one that called me a POS is his assistant manager and I got word that he gloated about calling me that to someone else outside of the company.

I am currently searching for another job but was just wondering if this behavior was even legally acceptable since I feel that I have been singled out and targeted with degrading comments.

Reply: Calling you a POS is no crime; however, it is disrespectful. You can check with an attorney if you like. We don’t provide legal advice. Based on the additional information you provide, you are wise to look elsewhere, but it’s best to put up with what you say can’t be changed until you have an offer.

William Gorden