Rude Boss

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a rude boss: Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this without me having to quit my job?

My boss can be rude and disrespectful and I am trying to find a way to get along with her. I have confronted her in a respectful way; she then apologizes and is good for a week or two then goes back to where she was. I am not sure I am going to be able to change this. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this without me having to quit my job?

Signed, Unsure About Changing Her

DearĀ Unsure About Changing Her:

Habits are called habits because they are stamped in patterns of behavior. From your note, it is unclear in what ways your boss was rude and disrespectful and in what ways you confronted her. But the fact that she reverted to her disrespectful behavior toward you confirms that behavioral patterns are not easily changed, especially for those in positions of authority.

Flight is your first option–to vote with your feet equal to that of your boss who can say you’re fired and don’t let the door hit your back on the way out. Before either of those possibilities, you can choose what you will do:

1. Get specific. Jot down exactly what was the language used and action taken by your boss on occasions that you recall and note what it was that provoked her action. Also for the next week, you can log times she was rude and the specifics of those times, just as if you were an investigator of this boss. You might also note instances in which she was respectful and see if you can determine what made the difference.

2. Once you have, like Sherlock Holmes, collected enough evidence, you can decide on how you might “steel” yourself to her and bite your tongue so as not to say what you think aloud or you can determine how you will respond on the spot or take up this matter further privately with her. On the spot response is most effective when it is clear and firm and bears repeating, for example, “Barb, I know you are boss, but you don’t have to raise your voice and treat me like a child who spilled the milk. Just say what is wrong and asked that I redo it.” Or “I respond more effectively when you call me by my name and briefly explain what you want. Barb, don’t yell, “Hey, you, what are you doing.” Of course you will adapt your confronting language to the particular situation.

3. Fight Smart. Yet another option is to request that your boss go with you to Human Resources or her superior to discuss her rudeness. Have with you three copies of the log of rude instances you have prepared. Most likely your boss will rather say, “I can change. What don’t you want me to do when I boss you?” Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, but that doesn’t just happen. It takes courage and persistence to teach some bosses how to boss.

William Gorden