Can She Be Disciplined?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss blocking the door:


I was recently in a situation where one of my superiors took me into another room to have a word with me as she thought I had ignored her. I was upset and wanted to remove myself from the situation as she got quite nasty and I was already upset. As I opened the door she blocked it with her foot and side of her body so I couldn’t get out.  I was, at this stage, panicking crying and just wanted to get out. I had to place both hands round the door handle and use my full body strength to get the door open past her. This has left me feeling incredibly upset. What can I do as now I feel incredibly upset and vulnerable having to work with her.  It’s awful and she has serious issues ..but I don’t think her managers will take this seriously.  Or will they?

Signed, Blocked

Because you have been through an unusually stressful encounter with your superior, I’m sending this brief note and will respond more fully when I get adjusted to my new computer. Obviously your superior was wrong to block your exit. Also it is obvious there has been difficulty between you and her. You ask if she can be disciplined for inhibiting your exit? That will depend on how her superior would interpret the whole matter–of your word against hers and how you are seen as an employee. You say she asked a word with you because she felt you ignored her–implying your performance was not satisfactory.

What to do now? I assume you don’t have a union or a system for having someone to represent employees.  I sense your anger and a desire to have her disciplined is natural and one option. Seeking this would bypass her and require a request for an investigation. This would aggravate your relationship. A second option would be to request a meeting with her and her superior to discuss the problems you have with her and she with you–and in this you might describe her blocking your exit. Such an option might lead to her being disciplined, but more importantly it might spell out how you should be treated with respect and what you might not do that caused her to have a word with you. A third option would be to initiate a meeting with her, perhaps along with you having a coworker you respect, to ask for an apology and for respectful resolution of her difficulty with you. Such a meeting could spell out do an don’t rules about how she and you can better communicate.
For now might it be best not to think of yourself as a victim? Doing so can only make you more angry and sorry for yourself. The temptation is to seek support of coworkers by venting to them. Such gossip will get you sympathy, but not solve the problem with your superior.
Please think through these options. They may help you to find a constructive path to a positive boss-bossed relationship. Also my associate Tina Lewis Rowe, the wisest person I know about working relationships, may add to these brief remarks. I’m sending my few thought because she has been overloaded with responding to questions submitted to us.
Finally, focus on somethings you enjoy this weekend–song, reading, family, good food, etc. Count your blessings for making it through another year.Determine to spread cheer this New Year. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. With a positive attitude on your part, I predict this situation will pass and that you can have better times ahead. Please feel free to let us know what you elect to do.
William Gorden