Workplace Hostility!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about hostility: He shouted, “This is my F*&% office and I don’t need anybody’s help.”

I am a dental assistant in a small dental office and started in September 2010. Upon my hire, the employer verbally agreed upon my hours and benefits (Insurance, vacation etc.) Also, as background information, I have worked for this employer previously and returned to this position, as it was a benefit to both the employer and me.In the past two weeks, two other employees have been let go leaving hours open that had been the same for several years. Within one week, my schedule that had been agreed upon in September (again upon my hire) is being rearranged to accommodate another previous employee because he no longer has another place of employment.

Instead of my employer giving the hours that are currently vacant to this previous employee, he has decided to change my schedule completely around creating a major problem due to my childcare etc. Along with the issue of schedule change, my employer, who asked me to tell him what hours I am able to work, then “Blew UP” and screamed and swore at me in front of two other co-workers. He shouted, “This is my F*&% office and I don’t need anybody’s help.” He said he could run it on his own and if I don’t get the hours I can quit.”

This Monday morning. he again made negative comments in front of patients. He also unintentionally (by his own hand) injected an anesthetic in his eyes. Needless to say another “verbal lashing” occurred. I am sorry for the lengthy story but I feel as if I am receiver of this “hostility” because a previous employee (let’s say a favorite) needs a place of employment and requires more hours than those that are currently available.

Signed, Wants Me Out

Dear Wants Me Out:

I’ve revised your question to make it clearer, but have tried not to destroy its meaning. If I have, I apologize. I gather you think your boss wants you out because he is accommodating another employee. This week is a time of stress for you; wondering if you boss will blow up again and if you must look for work elsewhere. What might you do? It isn’t clear if you knew of your boss’s temper before you returned to work for him, but your long acquaintance should tell you if his recent wild screaming is a one time thing or a pattern.

You’ve stated changing your hours completely around is creating a major problem due to your childcare etc. His abusive reaction to your objection to that change should loudly tell you that either you must immediately confront him or vote with your feet.How? You have a voice. You need to be the one to get things straight; to get hours that are reasonable for you and your child care, to spell out how you don’t want to be insulted, to request an apology and to hammer out an understanding about how you and he communicate. So ask for a time-out session.

Ask if he is willing to talk civilly about what has recently occurred. Briefly state that you want to do good work and to make your clients happy. Then firmly, without hesitation and fear, tell him how you feel about his recent verbal violence. He should apologize. Don’t allow him to smooth it over or to scare you off. Take enough time to learn what he will do, and if that is convincing and accommodating to you, tell him you want to get it in writing; the hours that will suit you and a promise about speaking respectfully.

In light of his disrespectful behavior, he is in no position to blow up over that kind of request. If he does, that will be an even more definite indication that you should hunt for another job. Does this make sense? Reflect on this advice, but don’t allow it to rumble around in your head for days. Work is hard enough without embarrassing angry insults. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Getting that uplifting satisfying feeling of doing a good day’s work in a friendly workplace isn’t something that just happens. Sometimes, such as you now know, wanting to come to work takes courage to talk out what is not right and talk up what respect means.

William Gorden