Tag Archive | abusive boss workplace

Email Entry from the Past – Abusive Boss

A few weeks ago, I found an old email from 2012. This was written at a time when I was working for an emotionally abusive boss and in a very unhealthy workplace. I wrote about this experience in my blog post Working with an Emotionally Abusive Boss.

Working for an abusive boss or in an unhealthy workplace can certainly take a toll on your health. I have made the decision twice now to leave jobs where my bosses were abusive. This is one area where I could be thankful to my abusive ex-husband. First, today, I am able to recognize verbal abuse in people. Second, I have too much self respect to remain in unhealthy workplaces for long. Third, I am able to recognize the place where I currently work is pretty healthy and has work-life balance.

I am grateful that today I do not work for a company that puts this level of stress on employees. In fact, they encourage us to let them know when we feel overworked and stress. They understand that we can feel overstressed at time, but do not want it to become a normal feeling. I have worked them for over two years and they still believe this and really promote work-life balance. In fact, there are many days I am so grateful that my work is going well. This past year was pretty tough on my emotions and I am not so sure I could have handled both at the same time. I will say my current boss was pretty supportive during this past year.

On occasion, I am still struggling with my grief and pain. My daughter and I sort of have a relationship, but I only see her for a few hours 2-3 times a month. Plus, my ex-husband made sure to let me know that my daughter tells him everything I tell her. So now I feel like I should be guarded and filter what I say. On the other hand, I shouldn’t care what he thinks since I only speak the truth. It is still a sick threeway an my daughter is not old enough to get what is happening. Getting over abuse takes longer than I thought it would and especially since this is psychological warfare.

Okay, so this email was written in 2012 and it would be another five months before I would finally quit this job. I have changed the names of the parties. Ironic, I named this boss ‘Joe’ and that is the exact same name I used in my blog post from May of 2012. You can really hear my pain and struggling over the decision to quite. Plus, I think the pain was more intense because of all the experiences with my abusive ex-husband. Honestly, I just wish I could turn it all off and not feel anything at times.

January 10, 2012

Good morning John,

I hope you receive this message. This is a little long, and I am not sure if there is a real resolution here. I don’t know where else to turn and I know my speaking to you could mean my job anyway. I am also sorry to burden you with this, but I am not sure who else I can go to. I also can’t ask you to solve my problems because no one can do that but me. He rearranged my days so I no longer come to your location on Tuesdays.

You contacted me on Friday and asked how things were going and I told you they were not resolved but I think we were figuring out a solution. I was not really being truthful with you.

It is 4:30am in the morning and I cannot sleep, this has become normal for me. I feel like I am on a constant state of stress, I expect to experience this some of the time. Anxiety, unable to relax, yet exhausted, chest hurting and kind of sadness I can’t describe. The kind of stress I feel I am under is the survival mode kind you are supposed to feel temporarily and then it should stop. This is becoming the kind of stress I felt when I was married to my abusive alcoholic which I remember making me sick in every way. I left that relationship and I felt amazingly better.

Joe’s new assistant confided in me the other day, near tears, saying she is working so hard and like she cannot do her job right. The common feeling here is we all feel over-worked, like we can’t ever do enough and what we do is never good enough.

Do you think it could possibly be that Joe’s expectations are so high which is why we feel constantly pushed to do more? Is it possible that the expectations he feels are so high which is why we feel our best is never good enough?

As scared as I am to make a move, I know I cannot keep doing this or feeling this way and not expect to get really sick. Last summer when I received a raise, I was just working for corporate and now I am doing three times the amount of work. Even if I received a raise equal to my work it would not be worth the health consequence.

For my health and the sake of my family and I know this is not good for me. I am concerned if we have hit a place of no return.

I have always had the highest amount of respect for you. I think I might be hitting a place where I need to work for myself again and contract my work out. I know my personal value and I know I must take care of my health first. I am not sure what else to do but I know God will provide.

I just wanted you to be aware.

[My Name]

Other Sources:

Abusive Boss and the Unhealthy Workplace

So this week I received a call from a former co-worker who was still working for my old boss.  Well, she was until Monday when she made the decisions to quit.  My response was, “OMG Congrats.”  She said, “I feel so free.”  I asked her what she was going to be doing.  She said “Nothing!”  She said she had just had enough and just quit.

She said it was so bad that she would wake up in the mornings with her neck & shoulders so tense it would make her hands hurt.  It is awful to be in a work situation that takes such a toll on your physical well being.  I found myself feeling some sort of excitement that she quit.  After thinking about it for a while I realize the strongest feeling I felt was ‘validation’.  Now there has been 2 others that just flat out quit and one that you couldn’t have paid her enough to stay.  The common denominator in this job was our abusive boss.  The biggest complaint for all of us about our job was specifically our boss.  According to a Huffington Post Abusive Boss article, over 80% of employees leave their jobs because of their boss.

It really is a shame that there are so many unhealthy work environments in so many companies these days.  This creates a very unhealthy situation for the employee and there is almost nothing that you can do to stop it.  In my work situations both bosses were making the company money and that meant more to the company than a healthy work environment.  In fact, the first company made that very clear about my boss making the company at lot of money and they were going to pick him over me.

Plus other employees often need their job and would not be willing to stand united against the boss.  The employees just quit one-by-one over time.  One quit over a year ago, another a year ago, I quit 8 months ago and another this week.  Now they have a bunch of new employees that haven’t hit the point of sick and tired quite yet.  Three out of four of us quit without a new job lined up.  Things typically have to be pretty bad for you to choose to do that.  My choosing to quit was certainly going to impact my family and I thought long and hard before making the decisions to resign.

Things to watch out for in a Company:

  • Are they chasing the almighty dollar?
  • Do they have a revolving door of employees?
  • Is your boss the only person you can report to?

It probably wouldn’t take long for the abusive boss to figure out they are not going to get fired and without consequences they have no reason to change their behavior.  Knowing they won’t get fired could even make the situation even more difficult to endure too.  This knowledge would give an abusive boss quite a rush of power to be able to abuse his/her employees without any risk of losing their job.

A situation with an abusive boss would have to be done through emotional, mental or financial abuse tactics.  I am sure you are going to find a few sexual abuse situations but at least there are laws that make it harder for someone to get away with that.  However, how could you prove emotional abusive from a boss any easier than you can from a romantic partner?  There are no visible wounds to prove what is happening.

Also, I would think it is much easier for an abusive boss to abuse their employees in today’s economy.  With so many people looking for jobs or coming out of college it makes it easier for the company to pay less or the worker to accept less than what they are worth.  Plus in salary positions where they are underpaid and overworked it just makes it even worse.

It is just as easy to feel trapped when your financial well-being is a stake, most people can’t just up and quit.  I spent a year trying to decide how I was going to quit and trying to get another job.  I had some really decent interviews but they were always out of state and wanted me to move there.  That was extremely frustrating at times.

A companies health starts from the top down and if the company is more interested in earning money than creating a healthy workplace then that is a real shame.  There are many companies that recognize it is very expensive to hire & train new people.  These types of companies do their best to create a healthy work environment for their employees.  Unfortunately, I do not think there is as many healthy companies as unhealthy ones. Of course, this is just speculation on my part, but finding a healthy company to work for seems easier said than done.

 

Abusive Bosses in the Workplace

Abusive BossOne thing to keep in mind is the Abusive Boss does not stop being abusive after you are no longer available to him.  They continue to abuse other people around them.  Most abusers seem to be pretty careful to not do anything that will get them caught.  They seem to be careful to avoid any lines that could impact them legally.  If someone who is abusive has that much control then they know what they are doing.  I am going to give these people some fake names so I don’t have to say her or him all the time.

I spoke to Susan, an old co-worker, the other day and she said it was still terrible to work there and they are all jealous I am gone.  She said Janet, his personal assistant, who is only 25 years old now has a bleeding ulcer.  Apparently Janet’s doctor scheduled a colonoscopy for her and Jack, my old abusive boss, was angry at her for having to take time off for this.  When I was there I remember seeing Janet crying because Jack just tore her apart in a ‘performance review’ meeting.  It seems like ‘performance review’ for an abusive boss is a fancy word for then to have a ‘reason’ to put you down.

Susan also said she wanted to report him but was afraid to speak up.  She said she saw him do this to Mary last year, Dave last year, Donna last summer, Me and now to Janet this year. She was afraid if she reported him there would be retaliation.  She said she didn’t have enough cushion to leave the job and was still trying to get another job.

Apparently they were in a meeting a few months ago and Jennifer asked Jack directly where I was.  Apparently she made direct eye contact with Jack and he just looked down as if he didn’t see her and said nothing.  So, Jennifer said, “Did I say something I wasn’t suppose to?”  Andrea said everyone was really quite and the entire situation was really awkward.  So Andrea said, “She left a few months ago and is happy and doing great.”

Anyway, I guess my thoughts are this.  First of all it is really sad it takes other people coming forward to validate I was in a abusive situation and not imagining things.  Second the Abuser did not change his spots and is not nice to everyone but me.  There are many abusive men who use the workplace as an excuse to use their employees as a punching bag.

Resources:

Abusive Bosses in a Down Economy

It seems we are in a time where some abusive bosses can take advantage of the down economy to justify their abusive behaviors.  There are less jobs available right now which could make an employee endure a situation they might not otherwise tolerate.  Accepting unacceptable behavior is more likely when your personal finances are at stake.  One thing I noticed was the people getting abused the most seemed to be women of a variety of ages.

One thing I noticed is I gradually became surrounded by co-workers that were just out of college in their first or second jobs.  Not only could my boss pay them less but he could ask more from them and use their job to threaten them.  They were paid too little and expected to do too much.  When they did complain they might hear the argument on just how valuable their position was and how many people would like to work there.  Unacceptable behavior certainly seems more acceptable if you do not have any other comparisons.

I personally have had experience of living with a verbally abusive ex-husband and have already tolerated unacceptable behavior for far too long to do it in the workplace.  My boss actually said, “Your perception is tainted by your past experience.”  This was because he had gradually over three years witnessed a few instances of my ex-husband’s bad behavior and was somewhat aware of what I had been through.

My past experiences have not tainted my perception.  My personal experience with a verbally abusive individual has made me aware of what is unacceptable inside and outside of the workforce.

However, because my family depended on my finances I tolerated that unhealthy work environment for longer that I should have.  When I began noticing the signs of stress in my body was when I realized I could not continue on much longer with that.  Having to talk an anxiety pill to get through my day at work is simply not okay.  Since I quit my job I noticed I rarely have to take a pill during the daytime which shows you the level of stress was inexcusable.

Justifying the bad behavior by claiming all the stress, extra workload was so he could create security for us and that was suppose to make it okay.  So was he actually calling himself my savior?  Unfortunately I think you will find many abusive men & even women in prominent positions in the work place.  Many abusive people I know are very ambitious and they are really good at putting on a mask for the world to see.

My abusive ex-husband needed to have titles, money and expensive things to establish his self worth.  He would truly step on anyone to get to this place of importance.  He was very good at mirroring the behavior of those around him and would be considered a high-level performer.  If he met a person of importance who was a Christian and did not drink then he would not drink when they had meetings.  If the person of importance liked to golf and drink that was even better.

Resources:

Working with an Emotionally Abusive Boss

Okay, so this post follows my Abusive Bosses Create Unhealthy Workplace where I described a more volatile abusive boss.  My second boss was a bit nicer on the surface but highly controlling and a bit more manipulative.

Most of my co-worker’s would describe my abusive bosses behavior as a ‘Napoleon Complex’ or even ‘Little Man’s Syndrome’ and I completely agree.

This relationship actually really reminds me of my first relationship after I left my abusive ex-husband and found a less abusive relationship.  I could have easily stayed in that second relationship, especially when I compared it to my first relationship.

My common statement to describe that situation is, “When your bar is that low, anything seems good after that.”

My second boss was much nicer and easier to tolerate that my first abusive boss.  Lets give these bosses names so I can give better comparison.  Lets say the first abusive boss is named Chris and the second one is named Joe.

Whenever I compared Joe’s behavior to the super abusive Chris he always seemed much nicer.  I guess they would seem that way for a while until you get healthier and start realizing they are abusive too.

Unlike a personal relationship with an abuser, you are probably not going to find yourself in a physical abusive situation with a boss.  Thank god, the laws are probably going to protect you there better than they do with domestic abuse.  Dealing with abusive bosses will probably be controlling and likely fall under these types of abuses; psychological, financial, emotional and possibly sexually.

My boss often gave compliments but were often sandwiched between two insults.  Joe might say, “The report you gave me was a train wreck, your power point presentation was very good and I needed that Task completed yesterday.  Where are you on that?.”  Typically my boss gave me very vague instructions if any at all.  Sometimes I was pretty sure he never asked me to do a project I did not get to him.

Sometimes assignments came by email with a simple statement, “See below.”  Which actually meant ‘See below, read the string of 8 emails, and read all parties minds and get it completed now’.

So to give you a little insight into my mind based on recent events.  Okay so in April my one and only assistant resigns because she felt the workload was too much, she did not feel appreciated and she did not believe anything was going to change anytime soon.  Thankfully I do not think she felt unappreciated by me but knew I did not have the support I needed for her.

So Joe, my abusive boss, was super pissed that she was resigning and decided to ignore her for the entire two weeks.  The only reason she was able to work her final two weeks was because I told him I needed her.  In March she had received an iPhone as a bonus and she submitted her expense for it in April.  He truly started talking about the depreciation value of the phone and not wanting to pay for it.  The day she resigned just happened to be after our company ‘bowling party’ and he was really mad that she went and then resigned.  Seriously, is this not completely childish or what.

Okay so my assistant makes it out of the company and is so happy to be gone.  When she left I was really ready to leave too because our workload was already too much even with her working and she helped out a lot.  Once she left I was going to have to take care of everything again and I barely had time for what I had to do.  So we found a new person to hire, and you know something is wrong when you feel bad for the person you are hiring.

You are hiring someone to work at your company and you feel bad for them, “You poor thing, you do not even know how miserable you will be, I am so sorry that I can’t tell you this job sucks.”

Okay so less than a week after my assistant’s last day I decided making Nothing might be better than the way it was.  As my boss continued to grow his company he became increasingly arrogant, demanding and you always had this feeling that nothing you would ever do would be good enough.  So I sent in my letter of resignation via email.  I know, email resignation is unprofessional, but this would be the second time I resigned.

I resigned last summer when I received an offer that was almost 3 times what I was currently making.  When I resigned, Joe came back with an offer that was more than double what I was currently making and allowed me to work from home two days a week.  My husband and I decided we would accept that offer because the new company was a start-up and that fate was really unknown.  So I guess getting that kind of increase and working from home away from the work environment made it tolerable for a while more.

This time I knew even if he paid me 3-4 times what I was currently making, the workload was simply too much for one person, he expected too much, his behavior was becoming more erratic and my resentment was growing to a point of intolerance.  Keep in mind that nothing at the job would have worked without me.  All of the workload was in my department and my boss needed me for everything because he really doesn’t know enough.  Perhaps because he does not know is one of the reason he always minimized what I was doing.

He would actually say, “Oh, it only takes about 10 minutes to set that up.” This was for something that would take a half a day at best.  That was certainly an insult.

Okay, so back to my resigning…

When people get fearful they tend to get angry and that is what he did.  On that Monday I talked to him and asked him about my unpaid vacation and what happens to it, do I get paid, do I have to use it or lose it?  He got so mad at me and told me, “Get out of my office.”  I sat there for minute stunned, trying to figure out what part of my statement made him so mad.  I asked him why he was acting like that.  He said, “You said you wanted to get paid on your vacation and you were leaving in 5 minutes if I did not do what you want.”  I most certainly did not say that and I repeated exactly what I said.  Then he told me, “Get out of here.”  I asked, “Get out of the office or the building?”  He said, “Whatever! I don’t care!”  So I left and sent an email with our entire conversation and instructions in the ‘per your instructions’ format.

So on Wednesday he sent me an email telling me my last day would be Friday.  He took away 3 paid vacation days, gave me a laundry list of instructions, said they might be calling me to tie up any lose ends and expected me to be available and said he would pay me my last 7 days at the end of the month.  Although he did not say so, the message certainly hinted that I had better be available and my pay was to be held based on my compliance.

He called me that Thursday to ask about a blog I had created about how companies like us steal people’s money (of course I said it in a very tactful but true way).  No where was my name on this blog, any specific facts, my current companies name or any other details that could point that way.  Turns out my husband ‘Liked It’ and it posted on his Facebook page where someone saw it and told my boss.  So now my boss is freaking out because he believes I am building a company that could affect his.  He could be right because I had the skills and talent and certainly could do it without a boss.

Actually my blog has a bigger purpose than my boss.  I do not believe in what we were doing or other companies that follow the same path.  They basically rip people off and it is unethically and morally wrong.  Although I made pretty good money, we were not doing anything I could really be proud about.  In fact, most of the companies who hired us were stealing money too.

Anyway, on my last day he had me in there with our newest team member.  I actually thought my boss would behave better with a witness in the room.  My boss was very abusive and was not even trying to hide it.

When we got back into my office my co-worker asked, “Why is he being so mean to you?  He is so paranoid and angry.  I have never seen him act like that before.  He should be taking you out to lunch and wishing you well.  He really doesn’t know anything.  He is all talk.  He puts on a really good show.”

My co-worker was very correct.  I just needed to get through the day.  So my husband picked me up for lunch to be supportive.  I am glad he did that because it was a hard day.  Emotionally hard and stressful.

After lunch I had to go and sit in the office with my abusive boss and co-worker for over an hour while we removed my Administrator access to everything.  He even called many of our vendors stating, “She is no longer with the company and we need to remove her access.”  I am sitting right there.  I even said so, “Do I really need to be here for this?  There is nothing I can do about removing my access.”  He said, “This isn’t personal, it is just business.”  Just the fact that he said that shows you how personal it all was.

He had always shown his abusive side but when I was actually leaving he was much worse.  I was sitting there thinking how unconcerned I was about burning a bridge but he should be more careful not to burn one with me.  He very much did and I would not help them if pigs were flying over hell freezing over.  When the day was completely I left and cried, and I was a little mad that I cried.  Yet, one thing I could tell you was that a tough and stressful day.  Although compared to what I have been through in the past it was nothing.  It certainly felt a lot like breaking up with someone or getting divorced.  However, I do not have any ties and have no reason to communicate with him in the future.

My 7 days paid vacation may or may not be paid to me at the end of the the month.  I did get my full pay on the 15th.  I had to trust in God and take a leap of faith and I know I will land on my feet just fine.

Other Resources:

Abusive Bosses Create Unhealthy Workplace

Obviously I have experience with an abusive spouse who certainly had control through our finances. It was very difficult to leave that relationship because he was the breadwinner and I was a stay at home mom. However when I finally was so sick of being abused I finally was ready to take the leap into an unknown financial situation.

The fear of the Unknown Future will keep a person from moving forward in life.  Until the Pain of the Presence becomes greater than the Fear of the Unknown.  Then you will gladly accept the Unknown.

I have been in this place twice now, once with a spouse and twice now with bosses.  My awareness of an abusive domestic relationship has given me the ability to see an abusive situation in the workforce.

My first boss was extremely volatile and would be as nice as could be and then blow up the next minute.  Everyone in the office was on edge wondering which personality (Jekyll or Hyde) would arrive at work each day.  My responsibility was to manage the office with my abusive boss.  For a while his explosive abuse was not directly aimed at me but he would do it to co-workers in front of me.  This was difficult because I need this job at the time and although I did not agree with it I was not sure how to deal with it.

One Friday when I was leaving work, I was saying goodbye and my boss had his head down with his hands on the back of his head.  Out of courtesy I asked him if he was okay.  Then he looked up up at me and said, “No I am not okay!…”  and went on to tell me what a terrible job I was doing and how no one could do their job right.  I honestly can’t remember the exact details except he was all over the place in his comments about me and my co-workers.  I left work that day crying and feeling terrible because there was no way I deserved that type of outburst.  However, because of my verbally abusive experience with my ex-husband I had learned a lot and realized my bosses outburst was not really about me.

After I thought about it over the weekend and did some serious praying.  I decided I had lived with abuse too long and I was not willing to accept that at my job.  After work on Monday I approached him in his office and closed the door and calmly told him I wanted to discuss the conversation we had on Friday.  I told him I felt the comments were out of line and not productive.  The conversation did go well as he twisted my words, blocked and diverted and I naturally became rather defensive.  The next day I received a write for performance review.

My boss asked me this question, “Are you sure you are willing to give all this up over a 20 minute conversation?”  I replied, “Yes because it was that bad and I do not deserve to be treated that way.”

When the Regional Director came to town to talk to me I told him I felt that my bosses behavior was extremely irrational and unacceptable.  He pretty much told me that my boss was making the company great money and nothing would happen.

After that I was on a 30 day review which really just a torture session where they could try to make work so miserable for me that I would hopefully just quit my job.  I did everything they asked of me, it was never good enough and after enduring the 30 day punishment they fired me.  I received unemployment and then started my next job a few months later.

This was about three years ago when I began working in another environment that was still abusive but not as bad as my ex-husband or my ex-boss.  I often questioned if I was dealing abuse again and I guess I tolerated that because my boss was a nicer abuser (can’t believe I am saying that).  The other thing that helped me through the years was that I had a great husband and my home life was really pretty good.

Other Resources: