My Boss Is Frightening Me With His Threats

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about threats: He “jokingly” threaten to physically hurt me. He’ll walk up to me at random times and ask if he can hit me.

I’m a female, and my boss is a man. For the last few months, he’s started thinking its funny to “jokingly” threaten to physically hurt me. He’ll walk up to me at random times and ask if he can hit me, and he says these things for no apparent reason. One time he had a large garden shovel in his hands from where they were doing something in the yard there, and he asked if he could hit me with it. More recently, he’s mentioned something about punching me in the stomach until I throw up. He said that if he burned me with something there at the store, he wouldn’t feel bad about it. And he’s said that if something heavy fell and hit me in the head, he would laugh about it.

He says all this stuff with a straight face, so I’m not really sure that he’s joking, although I can only hope he is. But he doesn’t act like this with anyone else there, so why am I being singled out? He says this stuff completely out of the blue when no one else is around, and I’ve never done anything to provoke it. I just want him to know that his “jokes” aren’t funny and that they’re cruel- I almost started crying the last time he said something. But I don’t want to quit, because I like my job other than this situation. So what do I do? Thanks…

Signed, Afraid

DearĀ Afraid:

This sounds like a very serious situation. Your manager is behaving in a way that he almost certainly knows is wrong and he needs to stop immediately. It also sounds as though you should avoid being around him by yourself.If you think it will help to tell him to stop, do so. But remember that even if he stops he will still be thinking about it. That’s why my advice is to find a safer and more professional place to work. I know that’s easier for me to say than for you to do, but you owe it to yourself to find a job where you can be safe and feel safe. Even if it turns out he didn’t mean it seriously, you need to be working in a place with better management. Best wishes to you with this. If you have the time, please let us know what you decide and how it works out.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.