• Wed, Dec 4 - 10:00 am ET

How To Deal Your Boss Picks On You

how to deal with a mean boss

Is your boss a bully? Or are you just not so great? | Source: ShutterStock

Jerk bosses are a real thing. Here’s how to deal if you’re stuck with one. Find out how to survive when your boss picks on you for no reason.

Know that if every single one of your bosses is a jerk, it may not be them. It might be you.
Examine your own behavior. Are you genuinely being picked on or are you getting scolded for the same things your colleagues get in trouble for, too? And if you’re not actively doing anything, check your tone, your habits–do you tap annoyingly all the time? Speak louder than you intend? Snap your gum? Are you a mouth breather? These are all things that are pretty innocent, but can aggravate a manager without them even realizing it.

Are you being discriminated against?
If you’re being targeted for your race, sex, sexual orientation or identity, religion–that’s bad. Really bad. You need to go to HR immediately, but first, document everything. Then file a formal complaint via email (make the subject “Formal Complaint of [Racial/Sexual/Age/Etc.] Discrimination”), because that forces the company to investigate–and the written record will also protect you from retaliation. (Please note that while I firmly believe in avoiding pants, if my boss yelled at me for adhering to said belief in the office, that’s not discrimination.)

Phew. It’s not just you? It is them? But they’re not bigots? Okay. Now kill them with kindness.
Are they getting pressure from higher ups? Have there been budget cuts? If your boss is stressed out, they shouldn’t be taking it out on you–but sometimes they may not realize it. Ask what you can do to help: “You seem on edge. Is there anything I can do to help [insert project, "your day," etc.] go by more smoothly?” They’ll be impressed and thank you. Unless, of course, they’re a really huge jerk. In which case …

Consult HR.
If they hired a douchebag (but not necessarily a bigot), they’re going to want to know about it. Because if your boss really is as terrible as you think she is, her problems probably won’t end with you. Ask how you can make things better. A little passive aggressive? Yes. But it’ll cover your ass and sound less adversarial than saying, “My boss is picking on me!”

Look for another job.
Somewhere, someone else will appreciate you! If this situation doesn’t change, find a better one.

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