how to deal with a rude, dismissive coworker

A reader writes:

I have a colleague who used to be my supervising manager and is no longer. Her role still dictates that she review my work and provide feedback, but I am now directly supervised by her supervisor (the owner of our small company).

When I present my work, ask questions, or explain how I came to solutions, she is often extremely disrespectful — texting or talking on her phone, yawning, looking at the clock, interrupting me, or answering me as though my questions or comments were poorly conceived or downright stupid. After two years of this, I have lost confidence in my work, in my ability to articulate information, and in my respectability as a professional and as a human. My supervisor’s solution is for me to “toughen up” and ignore her, but I’m not sure I can continue doing that. Should I try to have a conversation with her about how disrespectful and hurtful her actions are? Is there another possible solution?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 66 comments… read them below }

  1. hildi*

    so I’ve been away from here for a really long time, and in the meantime, I was certified to teach a course called Crucial Conversations. So, naturally, I’m eating, sleeping, and breathing the concepts and principles. And I find a way to invoke it into every conversation as a trainer does when she’s living new material :)

    Anyway, the lens of Crucial Conversations has utterly changed how I look at dynamics between two people. If you are at all interested/able to get a copy of this book, do it. Yours is a classic case of being stuck in this pattern of behavior and you need to have a conversation about it. I’d first identify what’s the real issue – there is a pattern of behavior (eye rolling, texting, the things you identified, etc.) that is causing real strain/damage on the working relationship with her. Next think about what you really want out of the deal. What is your ultimate motive? Keep that in mind as you have a conversation with her. Because it’s very easy for motives to shift as you engage with someone (it may start off as “get her to stop being an ass when she stops my work” to “show her how much I hate her condescending eye rolls.” It’s a subtle shift, but it has an impact on how you proceed in the interaction). Then you need to talk to her: tell her the facts of what’s going on, your story or how that’s affecting you (I see you roll your eyes when you check my work and I’m starting to wonder if you resent having to check my work?”) and then invite her into the discussion by asking her to share her perspective (“am I reading that right or is something else going on?”).

    Ironically, you need to make it safe for her to have a discussion with you and genuinely contribute her perspective. It’s completely counterintuitive when you’re dealing with someone you find extraordinarily toxic. But oddly enough when people act this way, it’s often because they don’t feel safe.

    This is just a TIP of what Crucial Conversations teaches and I’m a convert (I teach it so I better be, but even if I wasn’t, it’s a fantastic paradigm shift when dealing with people). Good luck. People like this are hard. :(

    1. fposte*

      I was just thinking of you! I’ve downloaded a sample of Crucial Conversations and look forward to exploring.

      The notion that people do that when they don’t feel safe is an interesting one; I’ll have to think about that.

    2. CM*

      I love Crucial Conversations! I think it’s especially great when combined with Difficult Conversations (different authors).

      1. Frances*

        Crucial Conversations has changed my life-personal and work. It’s been especially helpful when I realize I start telling my own stories. Stick to facts, assume positive intent, establish trust first, etc. Excellent suggestion!

    3. Rebecca in Dallas*

      Crucial Conversations has been in my to-read list for a while! I’ll have to pick it up soon.

  2. Prinz*

    I also once worked at a newspaper where they told us they would only ever confirm dates of employment and wouldn’t give references. It was my first career-type job, so I didn’t realize that was weird at the time.

    1. fposte*

      I wouldn’t say it was weird, exactly–it’s not hugely uncommon–it’s just not legally necessary.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        One of my biggest pet peeves is when people conflate “illegal” with violating company policy or even increasing legal liability. “Illegal” should be reserved for violations of criminal law, it is not a synonym for “prohibited”.

    2. addlady*

      What happened with the person in Alison’s story? Were they able to change the manager’s mind?

      1. OhNo*

        I don’t remember seeing an update from that person, although I could be wrong. But I know Alison’s follow-up advice to other people in the same boat has been to try and find another person at the company who can speak to your work from that time.

    3. Laura*

      It’s not weird at all. Many companies want to avoid spending time on references, and it also discourages employees from leaving, if they’ve formed a strong bond with a manager who would otherwise give a good reference.

      I really disliked my first job out of college, and it turned out to be lucky that they only verify employment! I couldn’t supply my manager as a reference even if I’d wanted to.

  3. Malachite*

    This topic came at a wonderful time because I too am dealing with a rude and dismissive coworker and I take it personally. I am relatively new in my position but I have considered finding another job because management knows the employee is demoralizing but only joke with him that he’s chasing off good employees when they hear him say demeaning things.

    Any advice for dealing with your own emotions when interacting with jerk coworkers? I go home angry every day and he sours my mood but I know I am letting him get to me.

    1. pope suburban*

      I’ve got one of these, and for me, what helps is knowing that he *wants* an emotional reaction. And, being as he’s unpleasant, I don’t want to give him a damn thing that he wants. Is it vaguely petty? Sure. But it also makes it really easy to disengage. It also stopped him from doing to it to me after a while, because he wasn’t getting the scene he wanted. I kept it really bland and professional, and I have to admit, watching him flail when I didn’t have a meltdown was a little bit funny.

    2. Artemesia*

      Does he have power over you? Could you get away with naming his behavior e.g. ‘well that was very rude, did you intend it that way?’

      1. Malachite*

        Hi! No, he is my equal so he has no technical power over me, but my supervisor enables him to have power over me if that makes sense.

        1. Artemesia*

          Can you call him on his rudeness or is the real problem that your supervisor likes to see you bullied? Hope you can find a way to protect your psyche here or extract yourself. I have found that if the insults are passive aggressive it really helps to translate them into clear English. ‘I am hearing that you think I am too stupid to complete this TPS report, is that accurate?’ ‘You seem very irritated and upset can you tell me why?’ ‘Have you got something in your eye? Do you need a tissue? You seem to be rolling them oddly back in your head.’

    3. anonderella*

      I have tried so many things, but in my darkest hours, when my outer adult can no longer be counted on to protect me with wit and apropos sass, I have drawn animal versions of my coworkers so that when they irritate me, I can think to myself, ‘Ok, Anna Aardvark,’ or ‘hmm, what is the squawk-iest animal?’ I don’t know why, but even the process of creating the mental images of my coworkers is usually enough to get the chip off my shoulder.
      (note, the images I draw are not meant to be overtly offensive, just to take out some aggression by making myself laugh and reminding myself to take whatever they are saying/doing less seriously. I know it’s childish. I know. But it works for me when keeping my emotions in check isn’t working, and I know I’m not doing it to anyone in particular, it’s done to everybody until I get bored or have something else to do, which is always fairly quickly.)(another note, I always keep in mind that someone could see these – if you can’t limit yourself to that, then I suggest keeping the drawings at home, or limiting them to your mind : ) )

        1. anonderella*

          Haha thanks! I was worried I’d get a handful of people who thought it was horribly offensive or childish, which it of course can be both, if you take it too far. I think the power of this exercise is so simple – just reminding you not to take the small things so seriously.

        1. anonderella*

          I’m so glad you reminded me of this movie – my SO and I found the trailer over the weekend and are so excited to watch it, hopefully in the very near future

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I do something similar in that I associate certain people with a cartoon character (in my head only). I currently work with Peggy Hill, Millhouses’s mom, Squidward, Charlotte Pickles….and have a customer who i swear is Foghorn Leghorn.

        1. Windchime*

          I love this idea! I have an annoying coworker and I have recently started letting him get under my skin. In the past, I used to think of him as an insecure banty rooster who is puffing out his chest as he pecks his corn and tries to appear bigger and tougher than he is. I need to go back to that visual. Maybe I’ll use the Foghorn Leghorn visual :)

        2. anonderella*

          Ok, this idea is so incredibly fabulous.
          I did once work for a female version of Yosemite Sam.. when later I met other survivors who had worked for her, I brought up the name and it would immediately get a hard chuckle bc it was so scarily accurate of a picture for her.
          Her name was Camy, too.. How the f did I never pick out Yosemite Cam??

    4. AnonT*

      I’ll admit to being petty enough that I like to give these type of people rope to hang themselves (conversationally speaking, of course). I’ll stay bland and perhaps slightly stupid and accept the comments with a smile right up until they make a joke or statement that is just on the border of propriety – and then go completely icy , usually saying something like, “What is that supposed to mean?” It doesn’t work on everyone, but often the sudden tonal switch shocks people just enough that they get nervous and mildly defensive and back out of the dialogue.

      It’s not the best coping method, but it works for me. It’s my own way of taking a conversation that would normally make me feel like crap and turning it around so I have something to snicker about the rest of the day.

      1. anonderella*

        God yes – I wore a skirt yesterday, which is rare for me, but it’s been so hot where I live lately. Some guy walks by as I’m stretching to relocate several boxes of letter paper to another shelf and says laughingly “Fillin’ her up?”
        Without missing a beat, without giving him a dirty look, without sighing or anything else, I said “Yes.” And he walked away. I might not have gotten the better of him there, but I didn’t give him any ammo to continue.
        For this particular instance, even though the joke was bad and could be perceived as sexist, I know that he really didn’t mean anything and made a bad call with a dumb joke; I don’t feel uncomfortable and unless it was part of a pattern, it’s a non-issue. People don’t have to be outright idiotic jerks to say stupid and insensitive things.

    5. AnonyMeow*

      I’ve been working for a disrespectful, demeaning boss for 6 years now, and I try to remind myself that I’m not working for his approval but for my own sense of self worth and professional development. It’s hard to not let his behaviors get to me, but sometimes reframing the value of my work in terms of its impact on my own life, not in terms of the boss’ (in your case your coworker’s) approval, helps. Sometimes.

      I need to get out, though.

    6. themmases*

      The thing I try first with people I don’t like is to zoom out as much as I need to to find something positive to say about them… Maybe they are terrible to me one-on-one but they are good at their actual job, or if all else fails we work for the same good cause. I abstract away from the actual person as much as it takes. Sometimes it takes a lot! When I find that thing I try to go back to it mentally whenever I want to gripe about it.

      If that doesn’t work because they are actually antagonizing me or making me feel bad, I just try to figure out what I think makes them tick. It helps me deal with them on a practical level and it makes me feel like I have the power in the relationship, they just don’t know it. For example when I knew something needed to be done (legally, ethically, and practically!) but had a boss who refused to take my advice, I waited until our doing nothing caused a problem. Then I emailed her describing the problem and maybe 3/4 of the solution so she could come up with the last 1/4 and imagine it was her own idea. Instead of feeling beaten down and prevented from doing my job, I went to feeling proud I got it done and amused that my boss’ egotism let me win. Not great long-term, but very bearable and effective short to middle term.

    7. Rebecca in Dallas*

      One of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten was, “You can’t take everyone’s bad mood personally.” And that’s so true. Especially if the person is not rude only to you, but to everyone they interact with, it is absolutely not about you.

      This can work on the flip side, too. Several years ago, I was going through a rough patch. I was working long hours and never felt like I could get anything done, not to mention I was working for a really awful manager. I also had some stuff going on in my personal life, which stress at work was just compounding. I still remember that one day, I was feeling particularly stressed out and must have been short with a junior employee. The junior employee asked me, “Did I do something to offend you? You haven’t been very friendly lately.” And I just felt so awful! I immediately apologized and said something about how I’d been really stressed out. But that has really stuck with me. Now when things are feeling overwhelming I try everything in my power not to take it out on anyone else.

      Not everyone does that. This person might have things going on at home that are bleeding into their work life. Give them the benefit of the doubt if possible.

  4. JMegan*

    For anyone in a similar position to #4, I would encourage you to have someone else take a look at your “historical files and documents” to help you decide what needs to be kept. I’m a records manager, and my job in the past has involved helping people prep for office moves. And I would say that 90% of the time, those historical files are not actually historical at all – old, yes, but not usually valuable. They often consist of every single draft of project reports, including the printed email cover sheets (Hi Wakeen, here’s the latest draft, please let me know what you think/ Hi Shivon, my comments are attached), presentations from conferences that they attended ten years ago, and “library materials.”

    Ideally, you would have an unbiased colleague who wasn’t involved with the work at the time, so they’re not emotionally or personally invested in keeping the files. (Like a records manager, if your organization happens to have one!) But even if you can’t, it’s still worth going over the entire collection with a really critical eye.
    >Conference materials can be tossed in the recycling bin.
    >Library materials should be put in an actual library if possible, or at least in some central location where people can access them.
    >Drafts of reports and email cover sheets can be shredded.
    >Final copies should be kept, but only by ONE person – ideally the role (not the person) who created them at the time. These can also be sent offsite or to a file room somewhere unless people need to access them both regularly and frequently.

    Of course it’s possible that the OP is in the 10% of people who really does only keep what’s required, but it’s not likely, and it’s still worth going through the exercise. If it turns out that everything in their cabinets really does need to be moved to the new location, great, and you’ve done a valuable service by identifying where all these historical documents are. And if not, you’ve done an even more valuable service by clearing out the clutter!

    1. New Reader*

      And then once you’ve determine what documents truly need to be kept, you may want to explore it they can be converted to electronic documents. I’ve greatly reduced the number of file cabinets I need by storing documents electronically. My employer provides electronic storage space that is backed-up nightly and remote access to the storage server so I can access documents from multiple locations.

    2. themmases*

      This is such a good point about drafts. They are great to save while a project is ongoing but after that they are just confusing garbage– worse than having no documents from the process. I would even say for some projects, there comes a final review process where you only want the “final” and the tweaks made to it– nothing older.

      Anyone who’s ever looked back at an old project and seen three files appended “final” and “FINAL” and “FINAL_submitted” knows this.

  5. Michele*

    I was wondering how what people recommend for reacting/responding when a colleague rolls their eyes at you.

    1. esra*

      When that has happened to me in the past, I’ve stopped what I’m doing/saying, look them in the eyes, and ask them in a neutral tone what the issue is. Either they sheepishly tell you, and you can deal with it, obnoxiously tell you, and you can let them know you’re happy to have feedback without the eye rolls, or they deny anything is wrong and you can question what the eye roll was for then. I’m a fan of the in-the-moment-call-out.

      That’s what has worked for me in the past when someone is eye rolling or making stinky face.

      1. pomme de terre*

        Agree with esra! A visible eyeroll is an aggressive move. Pointing it out (“Fergus, you seem skeptical. What’s the issue?”) is the way to go.

        1. Random Citizen*

          In the moment, I usually end up going “What?” in a sort of baffled way, which gives them a chance to explain themselves without automatically creating tension. It gives the impression that I genuinely want to know if there’s an issue and don’t appear to know that they’re ticked off with me.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          You can also sometimes come back to it a few minutes later if you don’t quite manage to call it out right when it happens. Like if your colleague rolls their eyes while you’re in the middle of explaining something but you decide to keep going with your explanation rather than stopping to ask about it, you could say at the end of your explanation, “Was that clear? You were making a really skeptical face there earlier.”

    2. AnotherHRPro*

      When I see someone do this, I call them on it. Not in the aggressively direct way of saying “why are you rolling your eyes?” but by asking them “what do you think?” or “do you disagree?” or whatever else might be appropriate based on what we are discussing. Some people aren’t even aware that they are rolling their eyes. I tend to treat it as a “tell” (poker reference) to indicate that they disagree with something or are generally frustrated about something. This is good to know because you can then ask them what is going on.

      Yes, it can be seen as disrespectful but it can also be helpful.

      1. Michele*

        Some of it has been related to people who just didn’t like me. So it stings a bit.

        1. Laura*

          Me too. My work partner doesn’t like people in general, and she’s been very off toward me lately. I took it personally until I remembered that she’s just like that, and not terribly professional at work.

      2. pomme de terre*

        That’s a great point about seeing it as helpful. I read a quote recently that I liked: ““Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

        I try to be a conscientious professional, but we all have our blind spots. I’m sure I’ve done things to set many an eye a-rolling in my career. Better to be politely proactive about both the eye-rolling (not cool) and the reason behind it (potentially informative and helpful, also potentially something to brush off).

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I find the easiest and most effective way for me is to feign ignorance/innocence. I’d ask an eye roller “Are you OK? Something seems to be bothering you, you seem like you’re very irritated about something. Do you want to talk about it?” That often deflates them, and if they double down and try to get more dismissive/abusive, it looks even more ridiculous in contrast to my behavior. This is especially effective if there are witnesses.

    4. nonegiven*

      “That is a really strong tic you have, maybe you need more potassium in your diet.”

    5. CM*

      I laugh and say something like, “Hey, I saw that eye roll! Tell me what’s not convincing you.”

      1. Mookie*

        Nice, polite strategy for de-escalating. I really like this script because it sounds friendly and cooperative and gives the eye-roller, who has demonstrated that they favor passive aggressive forms of communication, an opportunity to stop the negative behavior without publicly “shaming” them (which often results in people digging in their heels further as revenge).

  6. pomme de terre*

    Great timing on the rude co-worker! I’m in a similar position. I was recently hired into a new (to the firm) position; previously a lot of my work was handled by a consultant who’s still on retainer. I’ve been told I can use him as a sounding board/reference as needed. I don’t HAVE to use him, but am encouraged to. I would rather not, as I’m not particularly impressed with what I’ve seen of his work.

    He’s a 60-something man to my 30-something woman, and there is a lot of mansplaining. I generally don’t use that term, but I don’t know what else to call it when a man tells a female teapot engineer with 10+ years of experience that teapots have spouts and handles and a lid, and the lid always goes on top and is often detachable from the rest of the teapot, and ultimately the teapot is used for serving tea.

    I’m finding it really difficult to navigate polite conversations with this level of (well-meaning? perhaps? does it matter?) condescension. It’s really hard to know how to react when someone says, “Did you know XYZ?” and the answer is “If I didn’t know XYZ, I would be unemployable in this field.”

    I’ve basically said, “Thank you, I’m sure sometimes I will need an extra set eyes, will let you know when I need an outside perspective on things.” And it’s gone over like a lead balloon. I am not particularly territorial by nature, but I just don’t know what to do when I’m being encourage to listen to, but also technically allowed to ignore, what I consider bad advice. If any AAMers have advice on how to handle unhelpful consultant input, please do share!

    1. Artemesia*

      Is he someone who is present in the environment – another employee? consulting with others as well? If so then who cares if your comment to him goes over with HIM as a ‘lead balloon.’ Sounds like you are deflecting him just right (does a ‘consultant’ get to constantly foist himself on you?) Just don’t call on him and deflect him if he inserts himself.

      If you have to actually call him or bring him in to consult then just don’t. If your boss pushes it how about ‘I have found that Gildersleeve hasn’t really had very useful advice so far, I think I have this in hand and don’t really need his input. Of course if I find something that is challenging I will contact him for his insights.’

      1. pomme de terre*

        The consultant is (for the most part) off site. I think you’re right, I just need to care less.

        The sticking point is that my manager brought this guy into the fold and thinks he the bees’ knees, so it’s tough to deliver the “Gildersleeve is not helpful” advice without my boss taking it badly.

        My manager’s boss, who is the Big Cheese, is less enamored of him. She said I should consider Consultant’s advice, but ultimately do what I want.

        I imagine there will be times when I’m really stuck on something that having someone to bounce ideas off may be useful. But so far I just don’t care for this guy’s work.

        1. Artemesia*

          Be thinking about ways to expose his ineptness. Keep track of advice given that worked out badly or would have if you had followed it. But mostly, this is the perfect place for passive aggressive behavior. ‘I’ll be sure to call on him when I need him.’

          I once worked with a guy who had a bunch of old buddies on the ‘consultant scam string’ – where he liked funneling money to his old friends. They were pretty out of touch and I just didn’t call on them but always said when goaded by the boss ‘Oh I’ll be sure to call on Zeeblefetzer if I need his expertise.’ The boss hired the guy from time to time to do something worthless for pay, but I succeeded in just not calling on him when it was my work.

    2. Ultraviolet*

      Is it possible to occasionally ask the consultant to explain why he chose to handle some past incident/project the way he did? Not in a “how do teapots work?” way but more “how did you make this judgment call?” That way you’d be making use of him as a resource (which might make your manager happy) but not putting him in a position to “approve” the work you’re actually doing. If it were me I’d ask about something I think he handled reasonably well, but you could also ask about one of the things you think he handled poorly. There’s a chance of that coming off as aggressive though if he’s aware it was viewed as a failure by others or feels like you’re looking to find fault.

      You could also try explicitly telling this consultant that you’ve noticed he often explains elementary teapot concepts to you in a way that makes you wonder whether he has the wrong impression of your skillset, and give him a rundown on your qualifications and expertise. Tell him you’d really rather use your time with him to have a higher-level conversation. I don’t know whether that will work, or whether it will create a new problem, and it won’t help at all with the issue that his advice might be bad. But it’s probably a prerequisite for telling your manager that you don’t find consulting this guy helpful because he just explains things to you that anyone in your position would know, which I would seriously consider. (I would actually frame it as asking your manager to describe how he envisions you using Consultant as a resource–how often? at what stage in the project? talking about nitty gritty details or the big picture? And listen to what he says. Then you can say, “I’m asking because my approach so far has been XYZ and I haven’t found it very helpful. He actually spends a lot of time explaining elementary teapot concepts to me and I don’t get much insight from him into our real issues.” )

      1. pomme de terre*

        Reaching out to him in the very early planning stages of a project before it even gets started is a decent idea, because at that point there is no completed work for him to “approve” or nitpick. Good idea!

  7. No Longer Bullied*

    In my experience dealing with a toxic supervisor, a good-faith effort to address the problem just does not work if the person fundamentally doesn’t feel OK in their own skin. Whenever I tried to approach my ex-supervisor, I tried very hard to speak in a non-confrontational way in order to avoid provoking her. I was still treated as though a) I deserved to be disrespected, b) I was out of line for calling attention to any problem whatsoever. In other words, I simply did not have the right to voice any concerns, let alone to play an active role in making things better. For months I chased after a perfect formula to communicate with this person that just didn’t exist.

    Alison, your advice to the LW is similar to what I heard early on in this rough patch of about a year, before I understood that what I experienced was not my fault, and that it didn’t mean that I was incompetent or deserved to be treated so badly. Now I know those things beyond a shadow of a doubt because, having overcome my paranoia about being seen as a whiner, I’ve compared notes with other people who have suffered under the “supervision” of this person. In every case–and there are many–the damage caused by what you could dismissively refer to as “rudeness,” or, worse, “a personality conflict,” runs deep.

    I’m a very practically-minded person, so I appreciate the advice that you need to focus on what you can control. The problem with this advice, however, is that it piles on the sense of responsibility, guilt and shame that result from bullying. Whenever I heard well-meaning people wonder out loud why I let my supervisor get to me, I felt myself sink deeper into self-doubt and despair. Why couldn’t I find the magic words to make my supervisor treat me like a human? What was wrong with me that I couldn’t figure out how to “manage up”? I felt awful, because in my mind I was not only failing at my work, but I was also failing to be the stable adult that I thought I was. Ultimately, I sought counseling for the first time in my life to deal with the situation.

    Sure, you can take some responsibility in such a situation, and it’s always worth considering that it takes at least two people to form a dynamic and that you might have a little bit of responsibility in it. However, I think that those of us who are conscientious and whose first reaction is to ask ourselves what we can do to improve a situation are particularly vulnerable to bullying by people who are not motivated by the desire to do good work or even to get through the day without too much unpleasantness, but who instead seek to hurt other people because of their own non-work-related personal issues.

    I’m much more resilient now, as opposed to when I was being bullied. With the perspective I gained through this horrible experience, I think I’ll be better equipped to see toxic behavior for what it is instead of internalizing it.

    I did not just “get over” the bad treatment, though. I slowly gained the confidence to advocate for myself with the boss that I shared with my supervisor. He had an interest in my success, saw that there was a real problem, and moved me out from under her. I got out and I would never chose to deal with this kind of problem again because I now know that I don’t deserve it.

    As for what I think the advice should be to the LW: First, your reaction to a person who treats you with contempt is completely normal. Her disrespect is probably dialed up because she knows she doesn’t have actual power over you (does she?). Take some comfort in that. Try to learn from her behavior, i.e. “Here what’s not to do when you’re reviewing a colleague’s work.” Find ways to build your confidence that have nothing to do with this person. (After my supervisor told me she had nothing positive to say about my work, I started a daily and weekly log of all the work that I did, all my accomplishments, and where I thought I had room to improve. That way, when she asked me, “What DO you do?” I didn’t flinch.) Since this is a difficult experience for you, seek outside help and leverage this opportunity to become resilient–WITHOUT beating yourself up about “letting her get to you.” I started meditating and finding ways of feeling worthwhile outside of work. My supervisor sought to tear me down, and in the process made me stronger.

    Lastly, eventually–and it may take awhile– you’ll be able to find the humor in her behavior and start to see this person as just an unlikable character of the kind that you’ll likely run into again over the course of your life and career. They should be pitied. And punished, in my opinion, but hey. Focus on what you can control.

    1. No Longer Bullied*

      No Longer Bullied here again. I just want to point out that I do see a distinction between “rudeness,” which is obnoxious, and the kind of behavior that I think the LW is talking about, which is designed to make LW feel small. That, in my opinion, is bullying.

    2. disconnect*

      I think we as a society should stop calling it “bullying” and start calling it what it really is, which is “abuse”.

      1. Knitchic*

        Or at least make the distinction between bullying (most often done by people with no real power/ authority over the victim) and abuse (likely a person who does have some measure of authority over the victim.) These lines blur without a doubt, but generally speaking I find it to be a good rule of thumb.

  8. freedom from jerks*

    I had a terrible rude coworker that the boss refused to do anything about. He drove multiple people away. Eventually I found another job (for other reasons) and let me tell you, its been amazing how much nicer it is to be free from him. It somewhat skewed my view of professional relationships for a while, so its been really lovely to be in such a kind and normal environment. Oh, and that old boss (who I am still in friendly contact with) has apologized to me many times since for coworkers behavior, and realized what a toxin he is.

      1. Freedom from jerks*

        Sadly yes, and he’s caused major issues in the industry in terms of their reputation. Especially after I left, I had people tell me stories about taking their business elsewhere, Etc, that they felt it was safe to say after I had moved on. It’s super weird, boss just seems incapable of taking action.

  9. FParra*

    I’ve repeatedly asked my supervisor about obtaining 4 drawer filing cabinet. I have 6 boxes of files all over my tiny office. Ive been proactive in requesting one. Her response is, I’m checking into it”. This has been going on for a year now. How do I approach the subject again without looking or sounding like I’m begging and maintain my professionalism.

  10. Vicki*

    This is what struck me most: “After two years of this”.

    That’s 1 year and 10 months too long.

  11. Unegen*

    Regarding the last question, can we please put to rest the idea that people yawn because they’re bored or find you boring? People yawn because they’re tired or because their brain needs to cool down. None of that reflects on *you*. Now if someone is yawning on purpose to express boredom, that’s different and rude. But unless that’s very obviously what’s happening, taking a yawn personally just makes you look insecure and kind of petty.

Comments are closed.