Abusive Bosses: When Enough Is Enough

By Paula Santonocito

Here you’ll find The Steamroller, The Zipper Lip, The Backstabber, The Know-It-All, The Needy Weenie, and The Whine and Cheeser. Each toxic type is described in detail, and Petrie Sue provides matter-of-fact advice. Among other information, she tells you what to look for, what to say, and behaviors you should avoid in dealing with each of these types of co-workers.

You may immediately recognize one or more of Petrie Sue’s toxic characters. Indeed, your boss may be one of them.

But simply knowing how to interact with The Steamroller, for example, doesn’t address all aspects of the employee/boss relationship. Petrie Sue understands this and covers the boss dilemma in the chapter called “Plotting Toxic Cleanup.”

Appropriately called “Plotting to Manage Toxic Bosses,” the section offers practical advice for getting to the root of the problem and resolving it.

”It doesn’t matter if your boss is any one of the six toxic types or a combination of several types. You have choices on how to handle the problem. Some people are irritating but seldom really harmful to you and your career, whereas others are really out to get you. This is where your personal responsibility lies—to distinguish one from the other,” Petrie Sue writes.

The author is a big advocate of personal responsibility, and she strongly believes in coming up with a plan for addressing toxic co-workers, including bosses.

Part of that plan involves anticipating the outcome of your actions.

Can’t Take It Anymore

Attempting to manage a toxic boss isn’t easy, and, as Petrie Sue points out, it may have repercussions.

She therefore recommends that you review the cost of approaching your boss, and ask yourself what might be the fallout. In addition, you have to ask yourself another question: What is the cost of doing nothing?

Because each situation is different, and dependent on a variety of circumstances and personal factors, there is no right or wrong answer. Plus, in truth, only you know when you’ve had enough and can’t take it anymore.

If you have definitely reached that point, and have weighed the potential consequences, come up with a plan and confront your abusive boss.

Best case scenario, the situation improves; worst case scenario, you’ll find yourself looking for another job—one with a better boss.

Addressing a Widespread Problem

Unfortunately, as the ELA survey points out, abusive bosses are not uncommon.

Aside from confronting each toxic supervisor on an individual basis, can anything be done to change this situation?

ELA survey findings suggest one possible solution: 64 percent of American workers think an employee who has been abused by a supervisor or employer should have the right to sue that supervisor and their employer to recover damages.

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