how should you deal with a boss who yells at you?

Work is usually a place where we’re expected to control our emotions — unless, in some cases, you’re the boss and you like to yell.

I recorded a piece for the BBC about bosses who yell — why it’s wrong, what companies should do about it, and what you can do if your manager is one of these. It’s three minutes long and you can listen here.

{ 252 comments… read them below }

  1. Veryanon*

    At my last job, I had a manager who was a yeller (and she was the Director of HR!!!!!). She was seriously like something out of a bad ’80s sitcom. She used to stand at my desk and scream at me (or my team) anytime anything went wrong, whether we were at fault or not. One day I said pretty much what Alison recommends here: “I can’t work on a solution to the problem while you are yelling at me. You need to stop so I can fix it.” She actually backed off and walked away. I wish I could say that this was the last time she screamed at me, but alas, it was not. I left that job as soon as possible, and nothing in my professional life has ever given me more pleasure than handing her my resignation.

    1. BeanCat*

      I misread this as she stood ON your desk and yelled at you (Which also sounds like a bad 80s sitcom)! Kudos for your cool and level-headed response, and I bet that resignation was so satisfying!

    2. MommieMD*

      Yellers are the absolute worst. People who yell are most definitely out of control. It should not be tolerated in the work place.

  2. Yuppers*

    I’ve lived with this for the last 13 years. Whenever the boss gets overwhelmed, the yelling starts. And he doesnt care who he does it in front of, nor does HR.

    They keep sending him off to training but it always boils down to I need to grow a thicker skin. Mind you, I do not go to HR, its the others in the area that do.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You need a new job. This guy sucks and shouldn’t be in leadership.

      It never means you need a thicker skin. You don’t need to just “learn to take” abuse.

      1. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Exactly. The last boss I had that yelled at me got told “you are not allowed to speak to me that way. I do not tolerate being yelled at.” Surprisingly I wasn’t fired. I *was* prepared though.

        1. RubyMoon*

          I *was* fired…but I was not nearly so eloquent.
          I was so very fed up that I spouted off with “I am an adult human being and you will kindly treat me as such. You will NOT scream at me (and here’s where I let my mouth run off on me) like you do at your kids!”

          we ALL felt bad for her kids, the whole shop would just cringe whenever she would shriek obscenities at them over the phone.
          Oh well, not that it will ever matter because that company is long gone and shuttered!

      1. Hey, that's my boss!*

        I can’t answer for Yuppers, but in my experience, yelling, especially when coupled with contempt, from someone who presumably judges the value of your work, can wreak havoc on people’s valuation of self. When deep down, you don’t feel that your work isn’t valuable–or you are an intelligent, motivated worker–it can be pretty hard to look for a new job.

        1. Meredith*

          It’s also likely not the only toxic thing going on in that office, and you can become kind of immune to toxicity once it’s normalized.

      2. juliebulie*

        I can’t answer for Yuppers either, but under similar circumstances I liked the job and the company in general enough that I was willing to wait for my boss to move on or maybe have a heart attack during a tantrum and die.

        Alas, neither happened, so I’m sorry I didn’t get a new job before he eventually got rid of me.

        1. Hey, that's my boss!*

          Haha, I may have secretly wished this, too: “maybe have a heart attack during a tantrum and die.”

          1. it's-a-me*

            I like to imagine them getting into an unwinnable argument, for example shouting at an oncoming bus or gorilla.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        That person may be having an unsuccessful job search, need the money/health insurance, not have any other options, etc. I’m sure it’s “occurred” to them to look over the course of 13 years.

      4. Fikly*

        I don’t like when people ask this question, because this person is literally being abused by their boss, and it’s just as wrong to ask them why they’re not leaving as it is to ask someone in an abusive romantic relationship why they’re not leaving.

        1. Alex*

          I agree. I have seen so many truly wonderful employees leave companies due to toxic managers who have the emotional self-regulation of toddlers and it always leads to poor outcomes for the company. Management needs to manage or remove abusive staff, abuse victims shouldn’t be required to go through the additional stress and financial instability of seeking new employment because HR doesn’t want to cut loose someone who is more than likely impacting productivity and morale.

    2. Lucy P*

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Boss has a very grating tone and tends to project it at everyone when they’re not happy. Plus there are others in the office who tend to verbally argue often. I find it upsetting and potentially toxic. Others treat me like I’m just overly sensitive.

    3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes, you definitely need a new job. Yelling is not normal behavior and it’s not okay.

  3. Shannon*

    In my case the yelling boss was THE boss. No one above him to correct the behavior. I’ve got a new job now.

    1. Horseshoe*

      I work at a place now where “the” boss yelled at one of our employees (over the phone) with many expletives, audible to everyone who works in the office.
      I decided then that it’s likely that this isn’t a good long-term prospect. So far, I haven’t interacted much with this guy, so haven’t been the recipient of his yelling myself, but there are a lot of ways you can see this kind of personality affecting the office culture in a negative way.

    2. Aiani*

      I used to have a job like that as well. The guy screaming at everyone was the guy who owned the small company I worked for. Leaving that job was one of the best choices I ever made.

  4. Tricksie*

    What about when it’s the marching band director and your kid keeps coming home in tears because of the yelling?

    WHY do people think that yelling is appropriate, motivational, or helpful?

    (Yes, I’m going to be speaking with the district-wide director of fine arts.)

    1. yala*

      I remember my friend quit marching band when we were in high school because towards the end of summer before our second year, she started having nightmares about the director yelling.

      1. Clisby*

        My son played rec league soccer for 10 years, and I saw a couple of yelling coaches who were just awful. Fortunately, he never had one.

        I don’t mean ordinary yelling, like “James! Get back on defense!” That happens all the time – after all, the players are out on the field and the coach is on the sidelines -he/she has to yell to be heard. I mean derogatory stuff like “Have you forgotten everything you know about playing defense?”

        And these are kids. Playing in the rec leagues.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes. I always explain to people when I say “I don’t do yelling.” that it means don’t yell AT me. You can yell to be heard, I’ve worked around heavy machinery almost my entire career. You have to shout to be heard but I don’t want you to call me an “incompetent lazy asshole” in any volume but especially not screaming it. Loud voices are fine, loud asshole voices, get outta here.

          1. hermit crab*

            Yes, I think there’s a big difference between shouting (or whatever you want to call it – speaking very loudly so that you can be heard) and yelling. There are plenty of good reasons for shouting! But some people don’t get the difference.

            1. Yorick*

              Yes. This is why so many people use “yelling” to refer to mean talk even when it’s not in a louder voice.

        2. Michelle*

          My son played soccer in a rec league one year. One of the dads was really awful. Told his son “You play like a little girl. I’m going to move you to your little sister’s team”. I called him an asshole to his face one night (out of earshot of the kids). He didn’t say anything because he had a bleacher full of other parents evil-eyeing him. I shudder to think what those kids went through at home.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            (Not to mention the larger issue that it’s considered such an insult to tell a boy he plays like a girl.)

          2. Clisby*

            Oh, yelling parents are the worst. After all, if the coach is bad enough you can yank your kid off the team if a complaint to the Rec. Dept. doesn’t take care of it. The kid’s stuck with the parents.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, my kid played against that team last week. It’s the same team that destroys every other team in the league every season for the past five years (10 seasons), though, so “proof” their method works better than the supporting/encouraging coaches.

          And this is rec league, not travel or competitive.

        4. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

          Yell at my kid? Oh hell no! Now you* and I have an issue…

          *whoever the yeller is

        5. Kat in VA*

          There was a parent like that at my son’s Little League baseball game one time. The kids were around nine or ten years old. He was yelling at all the players, not just his own kid. And by “yelling”, I mean such gems as JESUS CHRIST COULD YOU RUN ANY SLOWER, and OH BOY LOOKIT THAT, THE KID FOUND SECOND BASE. Just really awful, derisive, put-down language.

          About the time my husband showed up from work to the game, the guy had started yelling at my son who was just learning to pitch that day, resulting in a lot of balls and wild throws. My husband, after being informed of the yelling and observing it for himself, calmly walked over and had a conversation with the man.

          Uncharacteristically, my husband wouldn’t tell me what was said, but I do know the man kept his damn mouth shut for the rest of the game.

          When parents are too heavily invested in the children as extensions of themselves, recreational sports becomes a nightmare for all involved. At the next game, a few of the parents came up to me and said variations of, “Thank your husband for shutting that guy up.”

          Sometimes jerks just need someone to say…something…in no uncertain terms. They’re jerks because they’re tacitly allowed to be jerks because no one says anything*, and so they just go along all jerky-like until someone finally comes up to them and tells them to knock that $hit off.

          *In this case, the man was probably 6’3″ and built like a brick $hithouse. However, my husband (in his youth) was the type to fight anyone for five bucks and never back down, so he wasn’t all that intimidated. I’m not implying the other parents were cowards or anything like that; a healthy dose of self-preservation in not telling a huge jackwagon to shut his piehole when he’s clearly red-faced, worked up, and looking for a brawl is absolutely acceptable within polite society.

        6. ArtK*

          I was a rec league ref for several years. The yelling by coaches and parents can be awful. Some of the worst are coaches yelling at their own kids. I asked one girl if she wanted me to say something, but she declinrd. In another match the referee (I was assisting) stopped the match and ejected the coach who said “It’s my daughter, I can yell at her if I want.” That coach ended up being banned from the league. Jeez folks, it’s a kid’s game. Nobody is going to miss out on an Ivy League scholarship or a shot at the national team based on this match.

          1. Clisby*

            In the rec league where my son played, in one season (a) a coach was banned for 2 games; and (b) the local police were called because of a crazy parent. The police said, Dude, shut up, or we’re escorting you off the property and you better not come back.

      2. only acting normal*

        The *only* sport I was any good at as a child was gymnastics. At about age 8 we moved and at my new school I joined the after school club – first session the teacher decided to humiliate me (and just me for some unfathomable reason). Never went back. I got enough of that bs at home from my father, didn’t need to take it in a situation I *could* walk away from!

        1. polkadotbird*

          I suspect the coach wanted to test your boundaries, hence the yelling. They didn’t need to humiliate anyone else because they already knew the other kids’ responses.

    2. Angry Scientist*

      Oh, I can relate to this personally! I had a marching band director that did this. He used to yell at people, call people names, and I heard that he even hit some kids although I’d never witnessed it. Many parents went above him, and maybe it was because I was in high school almost 15 years ago now, but no one ever did anything about it. Our marching band competed, so as long as he kept winning championships, the district kept looking the other way. They said that he was a “coach” and “coaches” had a right to coach however they saw fit–and that marching band was an optional activity so if they didn’t like it, their kids could quit. I hope that the changing tides of the world have changed that!

      I wish you luck in speaking to the district!

      P.S: Happy ending (I guess) he was also apparently a raging alcoholic, got busted for a DUI and then some parents brought some suits against him for their traumatized kids. He was fired and is not allowed on school property anymore.)

      1. Summertime*

        Nowadays, I would ask the kids to be vigilant and record any yelling if they can. Not sure how feasible it is during practice, but it’s the best way to document that the yelling isn’t part of the coaching. There’s a big difference between a coach yelling “Let’s get in formation!” versus “YOU’RE ALL STUPID AND WORTHLESS. WHY CAN’T YOU GET THE FORMATION RIGHT?”

        1. Taura*

          I’m not sure how feasible recording would be during practice. After the fact, of course! Write it down, tell someone who will write it down, whatever works. But at least when I was in marching band we weren’t allowed to have our phones on us during practice, and even if we were I can’t imagine getting a decent recording between wind noise, stepping/bouncing noise from the phone being in a pocket and of course the music.

      2. Lana Kane*

        It makes me so angry that schools are willing to let students be traumatized before stepping in to do anything.

        1. Amy Sly*

          As much as I dislike being on a public school’s side, the unfortunate facts are that sometimes students lie about their teachers and teachers have better job protections than most employees. The school district has to have substantiated complaints to act, and unfortunately the real victims tend to feel too uncomfortable to get that needed substantiation.

          1. Anonymous For This*

            I’m inclined to believe kids but based on experience as a student, having evidence does make a massive difference. If it’s legal, record audio or video; keep notes from the teacher; keep graded work if it’s relevant to the problem. I was far from the only person to report one teacher, but I was the kid with proof and it actually did get an administrator to do something.

          2. Lana Kane*

            Respectfully, this is the same argument used to protect sexual predators. That some people falsely claim to be victims does not mean this is the norm.

            If teachers are mandatory reporters, then it stands to reason that if a child reports abusive behavior it should be investigated immediately, regardless of whether it happened at home or at school. Wouldn’t the imperative be, in fact, to investigate incidents that happen in school, as they are responsible for children’s well being while they are under the schools supervision? If a student reports being harassed by a school employee, obtaining proof is as simple as discreetly having someone observe the class or activity in question.

            Is it ok for schools to assume the worst of a child who has spoken up? The burden of proof is on a child – that isn’t something I can claim to understand.

            1. Amy Sly*

              I’m not saying the schools are right in always standing up for their teachers over their students. Frankly, my observation is that schools are run for the convenience of the teachers, not the benefit of the students, hence why I’m so reluctant to defend them. I’m just noting the thought process behind why it happens.

      3. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        I love that he was sued for harming the kids!

        There needs to be consequences beyond “ok here let me slap your wrist.”

        I hope those parents hot monetary awards…make it hurt.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This calls for parents to intervene. You have the right to step in when your child is involved.

      My mother would be in the principals office gnawing on their ear. Then if it raised to the point, it would be going to the board.

      If you can get other parents on board, it can be a group effort. If you all pull your kids from the program, Dickhole Yells All Day won’t have a job, what a shame.

    4. Chili*

      My high school marching band director did this! I was old enough and had the emotional wherewithal to interpret it as, “Look at how sad this 40 year old man is, yelling at children over marching on a field,” but I’m sure it had profoundly negative effects on the mental health of other students. And it perpetuates the idea that yelling is normal! It’s not and it seems like a lot of coaches and extra curricular leaders are given a pass on this front when they really shouldn’t be. Good on you for speaking to the director.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – I had an emotionally abusive parent, so getting yelled at by the band director was a cake-walk compared. He mostly left me alone after I kind of laughed when he got up in my face once, rather than cowering in fear.

        I stayed because I had a strong core group of friends, loved marching/music (and this was pretty much my only option), and I didn’t take Bob too seriously. A bunch of my peers were constantly trying to get into his good graces, though – many went to his home to “help” with projects, and those were his favorites, of course.

        At the college orientation meet & greet, the marching band director told my mother that he knew which school I was coming from and that he did not run the university marching band the same way. When the university director knows you’re an ass, out of all the high schools kids come from, you’ve got a problem.

    5. Zona the Great*

      Have son do what I did to my high school history teacher/football coach every single time he started foaming: I would alternate between telling him I couldn’t hear him and could he please speak up or I would say, “oh, you’re making a fool of yourself, sir!”. It did land me in more trouble but it was still satisfying and lovely.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Unlikely to do any good. First, they’ll tell you participation is voluntary and that the yeller “gets results”. It’s treated, by administration, very similarly to Bobby Knight-type coaches, particularly for a winning/honors program. Second, even if you prevail, it’s going to cost you a ton of money and is unlikely to run the full cycle of the suit in time for your kid to get any benefit. Third, the school system will promise to offer “anger management” and guidance to the offending coach/teacher, make some on-paper-for-show gesture towards it, and move on. Unless the director is being racist or sexually harassing students, a lawyer won’t fix yelling.

        1. ArtK*

          Anecdore: I worked the scoreboard for the 1984 Olympic basketball games so I saw Bobby Knight up close. Complete jerk. I worked for a major university’s basketball program and saw tons of famous coaches. Some were great people, some were awful. The nicest? Without a doubt it was John Wooden. He said, obliquely referencing Knight, “Young men need mentors, not critics.”

    6. do the other things*

      What is it about school conductors? I had one in elementary school who would yell at 4-6 graders, and the head of the music department and conductor of a few bands in my high school was a yeller. He’d threaten to quit about once a year because we were all apparently so terrible. I was a sensitive kid (and also upset at why someone would yell at students), so I’d always end up in tears. And nothing happened to him! He was really chummy with his favorites and certain parents and it was so infuriating.

    7. Orchiddragon*

      My oldest daughter’s marching band director is a mentor and the kids and parents are devoted to him and the band program. He uses a different approach and doesn’t yell. All he asks is effort, and coaches them through improvements, etc. But boy, the kids know when he is disappointed. They try harder because they know he cares.

      On the other hand, the band director’s adult son is also a band director and will help his dad. The son yells, throws shoes, and has temper tantrums. The kids have no respect for him.

      I think the plan is for the son to take over as band director when his father retires. If he does, my younger daughter might quit!

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I know of two shouty sports coaches “fired” in the last few months round here because the authorities simply don’t tolerate it, so the clubs feel empowered to go nuclear. There is very little an individual parent can do if the support does not exist up the chain.

      I hope you find support where there is power. Children do not thrive on abuse.

    9. bluephone*

      I bailed out on my high school marching band right before 9th grade started (3 days in mini band camp made me realize it was very much NOT the right place for me and that was before being exposed to the cult-like mindset of the other band members). The other band kids, who had been friendly to me at orientation? I was dead to them too.

      I joke (half-joke) that if I ever have kids, the one thing I would not tolerate is them joining marching band. Sell weed, teach your friends how to keg stand, fail every academic class, etc…I’ll still support you at least emotionally. But join the marching band. HELL and NO.

    10. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      Speaking? You need to be telling him in no uncertain terms that THIS IS NOT OKAY.

  5. IHerdCatsForFood*

    I used to work in Big Law. One of the rainmaker partners terrorized everyone with her constant yelling and because she was the #2 rainmaker her behavior was never going to be addressed. I was so conditioned to it that it didn’t bother me. A new lawyer joined our group and the first time she was on the receiving end of of of those tirades she stared at the partner and said:

    “You’re obviously upset. Why don’t you take some time to collect yourself and come back when you’re in a better frame of mind?”

    The partner was so taken aback by it that she did just that. Ultimately her behavior didn’t change, but for one day we had a victory.

    1. Horseshoe*

      What a great response! I would hope I could be that cool and collected in the moment, but I doubt I would be, even though I know that’s the best response.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I don’t miss those days. I work in Kinder, Gentler BigLaw, and screaming is not really tolerated (any longer – it was a thing over a decade ago). I got screamed at by someone as a paralegal and said something very similar to him – when we reconvened he was apologetic but also shocked that a mere paralegal had asked him to get his shit together.

      I realized how much it had changed when I had someone on my team who remarked to me one day that they had not yet been screamed at in the couple years they’d worked here, and I was like, “Why would someone yell at you? That’s NOT okay!”

      1. The Original K.*

        When I was fresh out of college, I briefly dated a guy who was very fresh in his legal career – he was right out of law school, working in BigLaw. He described partners yelling and throwing things at him and others, and I was horrified. He was too since he was so new, but the partners in question were rainmakers so he knew nothing would come of him complaining about it. (They literally threw things AT people. Like, people had to duck.)

        More recently, I dated a partner at a smaller firm and told him that story when we first met, and he shook his head sadly and said that had been common at his old firm (he left a BigLaw firm to run this smaller one), though he didn’t “raise [his] voice.” He said yelling isn’t a thing where he currently works.

        1. Anon4This*

          Yup. There was one partner who went through paralegal like water because of what an asshole he was, including constant yelling, name-calling, blatant sexism, throwing a stapler at one during a trial prep session, and a binder at another because they used number rather than letter tabs. I can’t even count the number who walked up to HR, left their badge, and said they didn’t have to put up with his shit… but he rained $$$$, so he got away with it for years.

          1. only acting normal*

            “He rained $$$$” – I’m sure he did, but I’m also always sceptical of those kind of excuses.
            I wonder how much more profitable those $$$$ would’ve been if a portion hadn’t been spent on repeatedly recruiting people (not just the obvious resignations either, but any uptick in turnover not obviously attributed to his behaviour). Or how many people around him would have been raining $$$, instead of only $, if they didn’t have to deal with that working environment. Or how many of those pricey billable hours of his were spent having unproductive screaming tantrums.

          2. Sis Boom Bah*

            I’m confused by this–throwing something at someone constitutes assault, right? And assault is still illegal even if you are at work?

        2. Kat in VA*

          I worked in some form of admin capacity from age 17 until age 27, then took a 20 year break, then started working as an executive assistant again. My execs are bemused about the stories of Back When, from the execs who were blatantly, sexually harassing people with no blowback (in HR, no less!), to the guy who used to throw whatever he could get his hands on (stapler, decorative crystal ashtray, file folders, whatever).

          I must say, as an EA, I like these kinder, gentler executives. I also work at a place where yelling is absolutely not part of the company culture, and an uncontrolled* yeller would likely be found swiftly on their way out the door. There really are some offices where people act like professionals and adults, and care about each other enough to communicate displeasure/anger through proper means. Yelling is not one of those proper means.

          *To me, yelling is something that is reserved for WATCH OUT, THERE’S A SNAKE UNDER YOUR DESK or WE NEED TO GET INTO THE BASEMENT, TORNADO COMING situations. Not “You screwed up the TPS Report again”. Yelling indicates a loss of control, and an executive who resorted to yelling all the time would lose severe respect in my eyes, because it would indicate they are not in control of their emotions…which is unprofessional as hell. Also, I’m too old to be yelled at like a child, so no, I wouldn’t tolerate that BS from anyone – boss or otherwise. You yell at me, I’m going to tell you to shut up and get out of my face and I don’t care if you’re the damn CEO of the company. I also freely admit I have the luxury of doing that due to lifestyle circumstances and not everyone has that option.

  6. Lost in the Library*

    Sometimes, I think even yelling once is too much. My boss (the school principal) yelled at me in September for not unpacking our new library fast enough the DAY the shelves came earlier this year. Honestly, this was just a one-time thing, and everyone maintains that “he was stressed, it doesn’t mean anything,” but I don’t believe it for one second. He’s been FINE ever since then, but it totally destroyed my relationship with him. Not a day goes by at work anymore where I don’t think about the bullshit he said to me. Our admin assistant tried to console me and said “when people get angry, they say things they don’t mean!” and, you know, I call bullshit. When I get angry, I know DAMN well I mean what I say! Maybe I’m a sensitive baby, oh well. I need a new job.

    1. Fiddlesticks*

      Totally agree. It’s like when people say “Oh, he/she was drunk, they didn’t know what they were saying, they didn’t mean it!” Sorry, but I believe that when you’re drunk, that’s when all the mean, nasty things you’ve been dying to say really DO come out. Same with losing your temper and yelling. They meant what they said, they just couldn’t keep up the polite facade anymore and now they want you to forget about it and play nicey-nice again.

      Heck with that bs. Go to anger management, go to AA, but don’t try that crap on me.

      1. Elenna*

        This. People don’t yell things that they don’t actually believe. They yell the things they secretly believe but usually know better than to say.

        1. JSPA*

          Well, sometimes it’s their parents coming out of their mouths. Early conditioning can be a heck of a thing to break, when you don’t know it’s still lurking back there somewhere.

      2. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

        Agreed! I know when I’ve gotten to *that point* IDGAS about maintaining a veneer of politeness.

        Screw that…you will hear *everything* I am/have been thinking in all its unvarnished authenticity.

      3. JD*

        For some people, yes, and for others, no. I don’t condone the yelling or nastiness, but I don’t think it’s fair to say everyone means everything they say, all the time.

      4. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        I have a good friend who is a bar manager. She used to call liquor “truth serum.” It’s not that people say things they don’t mean. They say things they wouldn’t say. There’s a world of difference.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Lost in the library, I agree.
      Its not just yelling one time, its the context. You can cross a line with me and I just won’t respect you moving forward.

    3. Retail Therapist*

      Why would you accept the apologies of people who are not the principal? The response to that is “If he misspoke in anger, then he would have apologized in sincerity. Since that didn’t happen…”

      1. Open Office Hell*

        Yeah I would forgive one incidence of yelling – if the person who did the yelling sincerely apologized and actually changed their behavior. It doesn’t sound like that’s what happened.

        1. NW Mossy*

          Years ago I listened to a podcast about something called the “pinch crunch” theory of relationships that seems applicable here. The basic idea is that relationships can weather a lot of strain if the underlying foundation is strong and issues are dealt with promptly. But if relationships are weak, even a seemingly small thing can do damage that’s fiendishly difficult to repair.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Yes. This.

            There is a new VP and a new director in my group. They are in a different city from the rest of my team and have spent about three hours in my city. The emails we get – the few emails we get – from the director are snarky and mean.

            I can take snark from someone with whom I have a good relationship already, but if that foundation isn’t there, then it’s just mean. This director has not invested any time in building a relationship.

            (Neither has the VP, but at least he’s not snarky. He just ignores us.)

          2. Lost in the Library*

            Oh wow, I actually think that perfectly applies to the situation! Our relationship was never “strong” to begin with. It’s weird, I was scared shitless of our old taskmaster principal… but I actually got along with him better, because his expectations were VERY clear (he also never yelled!). The one who yelled at me has always been a bit of a mystery, very “nicey nice” but gets stressed very easily, has a finger in every pie (not a micromanager, but not around enough to be one?). I’ve never really understood him, so I think that incident revealed a lot to me.

    4. FuzzFrogs*

      I had a close work friend. She helped me with my wedding! But. When she was stressed, she got sarcastic, and mean. And one day I heard her mock me. Behind my back. To our great-grandboss.

      They can be stressed and not mean it, and it can still break your relationship permanently. People are always wanting us to pave over our bad feelings even if they’re justified, just so everything can go smoothly for everyone else. And they always want us to pretend that people who hurt us Didn’t Mean To. What, so their brain didn’t choose those terrible words? It did. They Meant To. They let themselves be that bad person, because it felt better to hurt someone else than to be hurt and they only wanted to fix themselves.

      It was a bad thing he did, even if he’s not a bad person, and you shouldn’t have to hurt yourself to keep him from A Consequence. And that consequence is and should be that he’s permanently lost your trust.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I don’t care what someone’s intentions are. It’s like the foot stepping comparison – If you step on my foot, I don’t care if you didn’t mean to, you’re really sorry, you really like me as a person, it was in the heat of the moment, you lost your temper, or whatever while you’re stepping on my foot. I want you to GET OFF MY FOOT and not step on it again!

    5. Blueberry*

      In anger, as in wine, is truth. Or, people say what they really mean when they’re angry. I’d feel exactly as you do in this situation.

    6. JJ*

      “He’s been FINE ever since then, but it totally destroyed my relationship with him. Not a day goes by at work anymore where I don’t think about the bullshit he said to me.”

      YEP. This happened to me as well, a generally super jolly and reasonable manager got stressed and snap-yelled at me, I called him back (as he was storming out of the conference room!?) and was like, you cannot talk to me that way and he apologized, but it totally destroyed him for me and I would never work for him again, no matter how much good behavior he displayed, because now I know it’s there under the surface someplace.

      1. Kat in VA*

        There are some instances where yelling is OK – but by yelling, I mean “raised voices in passionate dissent” as opposed to actual VOLUME UP WHILE I AM HOLLERING MAD AT YOU.

        I have these “raised voices” discussions with my exec around every quarter, and we both say what we want to say, sometimes loudly, but it’s understood there aren’t repercussions and we’re clearing the air. Maybe not terribly professional – or mature for that matter – but it works for us.

        But if he ever flat-out angrily YELLED or SCREAMED at me, particularly in view/earshot of others? It would destroy whatever confidence in and relationship I have with him and I’d be looking for another job, pronto.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I had a really great boss once, and towards the end of my time there (I was laid off), I made a mistake and while he didn’t yell, he spoke to me like I was dirt on the bottom of his shoe. From that point forward I lost all respect for him. I don’t care how stressed out he was, it was his job as a manager to speak to me with respect.

    8. Goldenrod*

      I don’t think you’re too sensitive. That kind of thing destroys trust, and it’s permanent.

      I mean, it would be different if he approached you later and said, “you know, I was really out of line and I’m so sorry I treated you like that.” You can give someone another chance if they at least apologize later and own up to it. But it sounds like he didn’t do that (and having someone else apologize on his behalf is NOT good enough).

    9. do the other things*

      My former boss (I changed departments but worked at the same org) yelled at me in a meeting in front of my former coworkers, and she lost all respect from me then. She had yelled at me on a couple of other occasions but I was able to get over it (mostly). A few days after the meeting, she asked to have a meeting with me, I thought to apologize but she started getting frustrated again when I said I didn’t appreciate being spoken to that way. She never apologized and I avoid her as much as possible now! (And I wrote to the VP of the org letting him know what happened and while the organization on paper is supposed to address these things, he never got back to me.)

    10. Alternative Person*

      I am so sick of people defending ‘he was stressed, didn’t mean it’ stuff. The boss shouldn’t be taking it out on you anyway. And if there is a problem, they need to talk to you like a grown-up, not shout or get snippy. That kind of behaviour, in my experience at least, is they don’t like you but they don’t have a good reason to get rid of you/take you to task, so it comes out on other things.

  7. pleaset*

    We should yell for in emergencies or is we work in a loud environment. Or if truly shocked in a very rare way “What the F!” and then dial it back immediately.

    Yelling at someone – no. I’ve been in a few arguments at work – over the phone – with extreme disagreements that bordered on yelling. But even those was not yelling at people, it was yelling about what I needed done: “Look, she has concerns, so rather than you just telling us everthing is OK, I need specific information that shows it. Just saying ‘it’s fine’ is not good enough!”

    A new colleague on that call, who I’d never talked to before, told me a year later she thought i was really mean since that was her only impression, but later realized I was like that very rarely, and that was OK.

    1. WellRed*

      Disagree. If that’s someone’s first impression of you, that’s not ok. No one likes to hear yelling, even if it’s not AT someone.

      1. pleaset*

        I think it’s totally OK because the action was necessary. And my broader reputation is strong. I was yelling at someone who was arguably above me in the organization (similar titles, but she has a bigger team and more independence). It was not about power, it was about demonstrating how concerned we were after increasingly escalating emails and discussions in more normal tones that did not result in action. Our concerns were ignored and ignored until that call. That was rare, but necessary. I didn’t enjoy it, but it worked. And frankly, the colleague on whose behalf I was advocating (the topic was a travel agenda and her safety) was really appreciative that I got hot.

        “No one likes to hear yelling ” – our work is about more than what people like.

        1. yay november*

          ““No one likes to hear yelling ” – our work is about more than what people like.”
          You can do your work without traumatizing other people on the call, though…

        2. Blueberry*

          I think I would be afraid of you if I worked there.

          I used to work in a hospital, on an inpatient ward. People definitely needed things and needed them now. But yelling at me for them got them there not a bit faster. If I’d already paged the doctor on call twice, yelling, “Page him you dumb cow!” didn’t get him to the floor faster. If I was in the middle of calling every floor looking for 16 gage needles, “Get off the phone and call someone, idiot!” was not only contradictory but counterproductive. After all, it was much harder to call once I started crying.

          You may be certain that yelling gets results, and you may be right that it works at your place of employment, but that hasn’t at all been my experience.

          1. pleaset*

            “You can do your work without traumatizing other people on the call, though…”

            So yelling about the needs of my staffperson to a person who does not report to me and is a peer (and in some ways superior to me in the organization) with her team listening in is *traumatizing*? Wow.

            I’m not saying that yelling is usually a good idea – it isn’t. It’s usually a bad idea. But to categorically say it’s a mistake or abusive or ineffective just isn’t true.

            “you dumb cow” I made zero insults. I raised my voice about our needs “We need this, what you are giving us is not good enough.”

            The situation would be like someone paging you, and you not taking it seriously, and shrugging so you could do less essential/less urgent work. Damn straight you should be paged again. Or have someone yell “They’re paging you! Stop with that other stuff and get to it!”

            1. Anonymous For This*

              Blueberry is describing their own experiences, not their assumptions of how you would act in their workplace.

              FWIW I have a similar take, although yelling once is more “inappropriate/possibly upsetting” than “traumatic.” I have what I call customer service damage and don’t react well to yelling or other adult-tantrum behavior.

              It’s just not necessary. You can say what you need to say at a normal volume in an appropriately insistent, non-aggressive tone.

        3. NW Mossy*

          In my experience, people who handle the situation that you’re describing with a quiet-but-firm tone are the ones that people ultimately listen to the most. You can absolutely communicate deep displeasure without yelling, and it demonstrates to others around you that you’re secure enough to resist the provocation.

          The thing about yelling (and here I mean the raised-voice-in-anger sort, not the giving-negative-feedback sort) is that it comes with a metric ton of baggage for a lot of people based on past experiences you know nothing about. If they know you to be Someone Who Yells, however deserving the target, that’s who you are to them now and it’s not likely to be a flattering portrait. Worse, you don’t always have insight into the ways in which that injured your reputation, because who wants to say “man, I really think less of you for that episode” to someone who’s already demonstrated the capacity to lose their cool?

          I’m sorely tempted to give people a piece of my mind sometimes, but what ultimately stops me is the fact that I have to come back and work with these people tomorrow. Maintaining a good working relationship ultimately supersedes the impulse to score the short-term victory yelling sometimes provides – it’s the long game.

          1. pleaset*

            “with a quiet-but-firm tone are the ones that people ultimately listen to the most.”

            I did that. No results. Really.

            As I said – it’s rare. that did that. Like that’s the only instance I can think of in many years. Actually the only instance I can think of specfically at work at all.

            It’s just wrong to say that we should never yell. We can and perhaps should yell in very extreme circumstance. If it’s not very rare then it’s too common. *Very* rarely. So I’ve been quiet but firm in thousands of calls and meetings and yelled in one.

            And frankly, when the safety of a colleague is the issue, showing some emotion seemed to be a good thing to her. Afterwards she was like “Whoa, I hadn’t seen that from you before – thanks.”

        4. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          You know, I agree. I was on a conference call with my employers and a supposed “partner” of theirs who on the phone tried to shine them on ONE MORE TIME. I knew it was a lie, because I had received excellent intelligence to that effect. So I said, “Bob, you’ve been telling us you’re talking to them for six months! That’s not an answer!” And he and my bosses were rather taken aback. I didn’t scream at him. But I was goddamn sick of the bullshit and they should have been too. But I’m a lawyer. Nobody pays me to be nice.

    2. Yorick*

      It sounds like you were still yelling at people, not just yelling into the air about things that needed to be done. It’s not actually better to yell at someone when it’s about something important. Your concerns can be shared politely and still get across the feeling that it’s urgent or vital or whatever.

      1. pleaset*

        “It sounds like you were still yelling at people, not just yelling into the air about things that needed to be done. ”
        I was yelling at them to do something.

        “It’s not actually better to yell at someone when it’s about something important. Your concerns can be shared politely and still get across the feeling that it’s urgent or vital or whatever.”

        As a general guideline you’re right, but that’s not always true. It just isn’t.

        In this case we’d been emailing for a couple weeks – first polite. Got platitudes in response. Then more forceful emails. Same. Then calm discussion. Same – and looped in a superior who chimed in. No results. Then a second call that went to raised voice. Then results. So it worked.

        1. BasicWitch*

          “It worked” that one time (and maybe others too, sure), but it also strained things with that new colleague… and she’s just the one who was willing to tell you to your face that it harmed your rapport with her. She and probably others on that call – or even others who just heard about it, because people talk – adopted a subtly different stance towards you because of your choice to raise your voice. In countless small ways that you may never know, it changed the relationship and actions they took regarding you from then on. So I guess it comes down to whether the results you got were worth the ripple effect. Maybe it was.

          I’m not trying to be all judge-y here. I have a temper myself and a low threshold for bs, so I’ve certainly raised my voice before. I don’t personally think it’s useful to moralize it – the last time I yelled at a coworker, it was a boss who said something not only stupid and disrespectful, but pretty sexist (and in front of staff members I supervised, all female). So yeah, I yelled (and got high-fives from all the witnesses after he stormed out). Is it fundamentally wrong to raise your voice at another person? I would say it depends on context. Was it disrespectful? Your damn right it was, and that was the point. Could I have handled it differently? Absolutely.

          I think it comes down to a cost/benefit analysis first (is it worth damaging relationships – even with strangers – over the results) and generally striving to not be an awful human being too. I DO regret some of the times I’ve raised my voice or been icily harsh with someone… but not all.

          1. tiasp*

            Why is everyone explaining to pleaset that yelling was the wrong choice when pleaset is saying just as clearly that yelling was the last resort, NOTHING else worked, and someone’s safety was at stake? Usually everyone around here jumps on other people who are dismissive of someone’s actual experience.

            If pleaset was my colleague (or superior? not sure if the colleague you were helping was below you) yelling up the chain to help someone, I’d be thinking great, here’s someone who will have my back if I need it.

            1. The IT Plebe*

              I had the same question reading down this thread. Pleaset explained in multiple comments that they only yelled after calm and measured requests for what they needed were ignored. The person not delivering had multiple opportunities to do so and it wasn’t until pleaset lit a fire under them that it got done. Personally, I would have gone to that person’s boss first after multiple requests were ignored, but I get it.

              I can certainly understand how that would not sit well with a colleague who hadn’t worked with them before, but they realized that this wasn’t a thing they did all the time, or even since that time. People seem to be glossing over that aspect, however.

            2. BasicWitch*

              To be clear, nowhere in my comment did I say it was the wrong choice. I said “it worked” should not be the only measure of whether or not to employ this particular tactic. I was trying to point out that whether it’s right or wrong is largely a philosophical problem, not a practical one. Rather, one has to know whether it’s worth the costs, including some you cannot directly see or predict.

              It’s a cost vs. benefit that must be considered by any readers who stumble upon this thread. Just because you get immediate results from yelling doesn’t mean it’s the most effective strategy long-term… but as I said above, sometimes it IS worth the costs.

  8. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

    I quit a job recently because of not one, but two yellers. One of them was also your garden variety jerk, who happened to be a senior manager. I went out of my way to assist on of his teapot painters who was having trouble with her green paint dispenser, we suggested she use blue and yellow combined until we found out why the green wasn’t working. She did and then assumed she had to do that way all the time, and she told him that I told her that, and he confronted me with this ‘accusation’ in a meeting in front of the entire department to humiliate me. The other yeller was just an incompetent person who hated any suggestion that might suggest that she was wrong about something.

    1. J.B.*

      I had to leave a job because the incoming manager was (is) a yeller and bully and would send me straight into fight or flight. I don’t want to behave as badly as him ever.

  9. sometimeswhy*

    I had a yeller once. Small business, HIS small business. He once laid into me about why something was late when I was on the floor, literally elbow deep in unjamming and repairing the bit of equipment that was the reason the thing was off schedule. (and the client had been notified! and was okay with it!)

    It took maybe thirty seconds? maybe a minute? to extract myself from the equipment without damaging it or myself. When I finally managed to untangle myself, I turned to him and said, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” and he honestly looked like he was going to have an aneurysm, just stuttered until…

    The person at the front called him over. A DIFFERENT Big Client had come in while he was bellowing, heard the whole thing, and asked to see the owner. Owner, caught up in his version of events went to him ready to apologize for his stupid, worthless staff only for Big Client to calmly ask for all his retained materials to be turned over to him immediately because he wouldn’t do business with someone who treated his staff like that.

    I was young and idealistic and went into the work world thinking this kind of cinematic vindication was normal or at least not unusual. Less idealistic now but I’ve tried to channel Big Client when I can.

      1. Heffalump*

        I worked at a small print/copy shop where the owner was a yeller. For whatever reason, he never yelled at me, but he once yelled at another employee, and the employee quit on the spot. But I don’t generalize about all print shop owners from this guy.

      2. sometimeswhy*

        Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery close: photography supply and printing biz at the cusp of the film/digital interface. The equipment was a negative scanner so I was ALSO trying not to damage the negatives in the process. OY.

      1. sometimeswhy*

        It did wonders for morale that someone stood up for us, even if things were still pretty bad. Just the validation from someone who had power over the person making our lives miserable was amazing.

    1. Dagny*

      I have a male friend who refused an offer with a company; during the interview, the hiring manager called woman employees names like “sweetheart” and “honey.” Nope.

  10. Andy*

    I had a yeller. Wasn’t a boss, just a blowhard. I LOVED that job…except that once I got screamed at (and backed all the way into a corner and eventually had to crouch down to avoid the flying spittle) I had a hard time even going in.
    It was, like, the BEST job except that dude. It’s amazing, looking back, just how much I liked it considering the work was supes mundane. But the office culture (besides that one person) was so f-ing KIND.
    After the screaming the HR person called me at home, told me she found out what happened, and addressed it w me and elsewhere to the extent of her abilities…but idk if anyone who wasn’t there could really grok how batcrap insane the screaming was.
    He was going OFF. At the time I remember thinking: Is he stroking out? Is this happening?

  11. Amethystmoon*

    A huge reason of why I left my last job was that one of the managers (who wasn’t even my manager) was verbally abusive on a regular basis. I tried reporting it to my boss at the time and was gaslighted. Needless to say, that was the last straw. I took the first job offer I got just to leave. Found out several months into my new job that she had finally been fired.

  12. Heffalump*

    Some years ago the sole proprietor of the company I worked for called me into a conference room with my manager and yelled at me for several minutes for a perceived misdeed. He finished and left the room, and my manager said, “I can’t apologize enough. That was rude and unfair.”

    As luck would have it, I was able to find a new job and give notice five weeks later. At my exit interview I told my manager that the owner’s tantrum was a large part of why I was leaving, and my manager was totally empathetic. I had heard second-hand that the owner was in the habit of saying, “It’s my company, and if people don’t like the way I talk to them, they can go to work somewhere else.” I asked my manager if this was true, and he confirmed it.

    1. Hell Job Escapee*

      The owner/president of my last workplace used to say basically the same thing. If we didn’t like the way he talked to the staff, our salaries, etc, we could go someplace else. There are people who have worked for him for a number of years, who stay for some reason, but the turnover rate of newer/younger employees is very high.

      The one time I got the real brunt of his abuse was when he thought I didn’t do a certain procedure correctly. He called me into his office with the COO and my manger to rail at me. I was two seconds away from telling him I was not going to put up being yelled at before I remembered I had documentation to prove I did the procedure correctly.

      Of course, he blubbered and made some excuse of how it wasn’t showing up in our system right when I practically threw the paperwork on his desk and he never apologized. I had already been job searching, but that incident ramped it up and am now a month into a job I like very much that pays me significantly more.

  13. StaceyIzMe*

    I think that people who yell are similar to those who have other habits that some find questionable. If managers are routinely inappropriate, tardy, disorganized, unprepared, disengaged, cynical, sullen, angry, sarcastic and profane, it’s not surprising that they also yell. Managers who perform poorly often have multiple traits from this list and no doubt many others could be named. Basically, if you’re the sort of person who is okay with the poor practice of emotional and social intelligence in one area, it’s likely that there are other concerns beyond merely yelling. Coaching and additional scrutiny can help, but you have to wonder about how they got very far INTO management without managing to develop good people skills along the way?

    1. Goldenrod*

      “I think that people who yell are similar to those who have other habits that some find questionable.”

      Yes, TOTALLY agree with this! The abusive bosses I’ve had were always – ALWAYS – also incompetent, bad at their jobs, and often, unethical. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

      1. alienor*

        Same–the most abusive boss I’ve had is also incompetent and constantly in over his head. I marvel daily that he still has a job, but he can be very superficially charming and has protection from higher-level people, so we’ll probably never see the back of him.

  14. NJ Anon*

    Had a job where CEO was screaming at me AND pointing a finger in my face. When he was done, I calmly tild him that NO ONE speaks to me that way, packed my stuff and walked out. This guy was a total asshole and the company knew it. They paid me severance even though I walked out. Heard he got fired about a year later. What a jerk.

  15. Librariannie*

    I feel like this could be parenting advice as well…. I can’t see myself screaming at a co-worker, but at my own kids? Unfortunately I do. And the insight that it is because of desperation and frustration, yup and yup.

    1. hermit crab*

      There was a really interesting discussion about yelling (including discussion of both kids and coworkers) on Slate’s Mom & Dad Are Fighting podcast recently. You might want to give it a listen if you haven’t yet!

    2. juliebulie*

      My mother was a yeller. It doesn’t bother every kid and maybe it doesn’t bother yours, but for me, it was as bad as being physically hit. Even as an adult, it took me a long time to get over that reaction.

      Please find out how to not yell at your kids!

      1. Your Friendly Neighborhood Enby*

        As someone whose childhood was full of being yelled at, juliebulie is correct – the right words in the right tone of voice are at least as damaging as being physically hit for plenty of kids. My guess would be *most* kids.

        1. Pretzelgirl*

          My neighbor is yeller. In fact her and I used to be pretty good friends until I discovered how badly she screams at her kids. My kids are only allowed to play outside at her house (with her kids) and not in. My kids are actually afraid of her, and they aren’t scaredy cats. I am the first to admit I have yelled at my kids, but not on a consistent, basis and to the level she does. Its awful. Now her oldest has taken to yelling at her siblings just like her mother and it makes me cringe. And there you see the evil cycle that is verbal (or any really) abuse.

        2. Alexandra Lynch*

          My sons are now grown, and one of them said to me last year that they could tell me anything because they knew that I wouldn’t get upset and fly off the handle, and I’d work with them to find a solution to the problem.

          I nearly cried, because my father was a yeller. Undoubtedly I’m not perfect as a parent, but knowing that the yelling stopped here? I am successful. Of course, my dad probably felt he was successful because he never hit us.

        3. TheCommenterFormerlyKnownAsRUKiddingMe*

          Cosigned. Childhood trauma from being yelled at. Took me decades to be able to say “you are not allowed to yell at me.”

        4. Hope*

          No lie, I would 100% have preferred to get spankings instead of the hour long yell-fests my parents enjoyed whenever I or my siblings messed up (inevitably, whatever set them off would lead to them going around the house pointing out every other little thing that wasn’t perfect; I developed a weird “must clean EVERYTHING and do ALL CHORES” response anytime I have anxiety).

          To this day, I’m still dealing with fear and guilt-tripping for things that are complete accidents, like spilling soda on the carpet or dropping a dish. And I’ve lived on my own for nearly 2 decades!

    3. Burned Out Supervisor*

      My parents were yellers and, not to be unkind or negate your frustration when parenting, it was a little damaging to me. I have a really hard time with conflict and tend to want to smooth things out (even if it’s to my detriment) to avoid the possibility of yelling (even if they’re yelling at someone else). If someone yells at me, or around me, I literally freeze and cannot think straight. It’s really hard for me to stand up for myself because I’m worried that person will get mad and yell.
      My parents would not only would yell at me (not a ton), but at each other, up until I was about in middle school and they started to try and work on their relationship. They both grew up in abusive households and were always trying to do better than their parents. I mean, I’m a functional adult and have a great relationship with my parents, but it’s because they sought out the root of their frustration and anger so that they could start enjoying life and stop yelling so much (figuring out their finances, stopping drinking, also my mom got on antidepressants and my dad found a better job). I hope you have some support that you can lean on when you feel frustrated and desperate.

    4. Richard*

      Yelling at kids is just like yelling at employees (or coworkers or students or dogs or family members or anyone or anything else that can understand it): People remember the yelling, not the thing that you’re yelling about. It’s an easy and satisfying way to vent, but it’s also completely ineffectual.

  16. MOAS*

    I had a boss like that. Would yell, throw papers, slam and break pens, was generally a mean and nasty person. Compared my mental ability to that of a 10 year old. I cried. It was the last job I had before landing at my current company. Wish I could have had a burning bridges type exit but I was too wimpy to do so.

    1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      “too wimpy to do so”
      Don’t be so hard on yourself. You did what you had to to get the hell outta there. My experience has been that burning bridges type exits have virtually zero impact on the situation.

  17. Wonky Policy Wonk*

    Sometimes you don’t even have to yell at staff to create a toxic work environment, just yelling somewhere staff can hear is enough.

    At my last job the Director (my manager’s boss) would yell all the time about things he thought were stupid or pointless, but it was never at people. He was so loud that you could hear clearly what he was yelling about even with his office door closed. This same Director could also never understand why people were intimidated by him and weren’t comfortable coming to him for advice, he was “so nice to staff!”. Who wants to ask for help from someone that may yell about how stupid your question is loud enough for the entire office to hear???

  18. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    I have a coworker who cannot control his volume. He tells all the time. Doesn’t understand why people don’t like it, or can be afraid of him. He also thinks that it’s okay and reasonable not to talk to coworkers, managers, or customers. Not just gossip type topics, but actual “have you seen the scissor” or “did you want to do task xyz or am I doing it” topics that we need answers to in order to do our job. Which means that I have to close the store in order to use the bathroom and have to be on till for the entire 8 hour shift with no coverage at all.

    1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      He doesn’t understand? Yeah, what the hell ever. He knows EXACTLY what he is doing and loves it. It gives him control. Abusers do that type of gaslighting all the time. “I don’t see why dry clicking a revolver at your head is scary. What a baby.” The dude is a first class ASS HAT.

  19. Anonymouse*

    I have a close friend who has told me on a few occasions about her boss yelling at her. I would think “what a terrible manager” and then one time she described a situation in which she said I yelled at her. Except I didn’t. At all. I was upset but I didn’t yell or raise my voice or swear or make a personal attack or anything. I said “be more careful” in a clipped tone when she burnt a hole in something.
    Now I have no idea how to take her descriptions of her boss yelling at her.

    1. TM*

      This is a thing I’ve noticed. Some folks seem to hear “yelling” when it’s really just…emotional communication, maybe? Like, in your example, you clearly had some kind of tone that they picked up on. But “yelling at me” seems to be some people’s shorthand for “made some kind of disagreeable communication in my direction.”

      I hesitate to make a broad generalization (yet here I go…) the people I’ve observed with this tendency have been younger. I have hypothesized that it is mostly a lack of experience in parsing out different shades of emotion in communication. Also, I think when you are in a new experience and trying to do everything right, you can be especially vulnerable to criticism.

      1. juliebulie*

        There was a letter about that recently, right? I too have been accused of “yelling” when I’m sure I didn’t even raise my voice. I did say “this isn’t correct, please fix it, and then re-check the rest of the document and this time take your time.” On the bulie scale, that barely even qualifies as a scolding.

      2. Grapey*

        I don’t know if it’s older people as much as insecure people. My (usually very awesome, but insecure around technology) mother in law accuses people of “yelling” at her if we get increasing frustration in our voice when we have to repeat something.

        Husband – “You need to go to WIFI -”
        Her – “But my mobile network is off…”
        Husband – “*sigh because this has been said 2x already* Mobile network is not the same as WIFI-”
        Her – (actually yelling) “Stop yelling at me!”
        repeat many times in the same conversation

    2. anonymous for this*

      My husband thinks that all emotional communication is yelling. It’s extremely weird and hard to work with. I get a lot of this:
      “Can you please load those dishes? I need to take care of (baby thing.)”
      “I can’t even think with you yelling at me!”

      I believe it’s an emotional maturity thing, not an age thing (we are almost 40.)

      1. Burned Out Supervisor*

        Sounds a little manipulative to get you to stop asking him to help you (just my two cents).

      2. Anonymouse*

        I don’t even know if I would categorize it as emotional maturity–maybe more a history of emotionally unhealthy relationships (your mileage may vary–you of course know your spouse better than random person on the internet)? With my friend at least her parents are sometimes pretty toxic emotionally and I don’t know if it was raised voices when they criticized/mocked/blamed her or if it was in a more controlled volume and so it came to be interpreted in her brain as negative emotional communication=yelling. She was also abused in a previous relationship.

    3. Burned Out Supervisor*

      Yeah, I have overheard staff say that I’ve “yelled at them” about something they did. Usually, they were wearing something that was out of compliance for the dress code and I just calmly told them that in the future they couldn’t wear the thing they were wearing. It bugs me because I only yell in the car or at something dumb on TV and would NEVER yell at someone for misinterpreting a policy — especially not in front of others.

    4. River Song*

      Oooh. I do this. I have to actively remind myself to not refer to things that are just unhappy voices as yelling. I have no idea why my mind categorizes it that way, but I know it’s unfair!

    5. Barbara Eyiuche*

      A lot of people will say someone is ‘yelling’ at them if whatever they said was directed at them, was negative in some way, and was said with a disagreeable tone. I used to call that ‘yelling’ as well – I have trained myself not to anymore, but really it is the bad tone that is the problem. Someone saying something vicious about me in a quiet tone of voice is no better than the person yelling a criticism.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      When I was a kid it was common to say someone yelled at you when you meant the person chastised you for something. Didn’t mean they raised their voice, just that you were in trouble of some sort. This was a kid thing, and is no longer common, but in conversation with my siblings the term will occasionally be used in this way.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’ve seent this come up in a few threads lately and it makes me realize I do sometimes say “I got yelled at” or “I got smacked down” when really all someone did is neutrally reject my idea or correct me. I do not actually believe that person yelled at me, and I’m not intending to paint that person as a yeller/monster. It seems like a storytelling technique — my narrative is I’m like a little kid that gets his hand smacked because he’s sneaking into the candy jar. But this is not good! Now that I’m noticing this pattern I will keep a sharp eye on it. I don’t wish to exaggerate in this way or muddy the waters of okay and not okay behavior.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I think for some people that low, clipped tone sounds much more serious than raising your voice, so they feel yelled at when people use that tone. It causes all the negative feelings that yelling does. Of course, it’s unreasonable to demand that people speak in a neutral tone all the time, so I can’t see a solution to that.

    8. J.B.*

      I have a really different perception than many people on the difference between intense emotion and yelling from my husband, and it’s because I’m the adult child of an alcoholic with *intense* brain wiring to begin with. At work there have definitely been very emotional times that really shouldn’t have been that emotional. Even if the person on the other end was technically not yelling (because town of voice was lower) the communication was WAY more intense than warranted and sent me right back to that place of hyper-vigilance over emotion. Think intense emotion over the name of a database field. Emotions shouldn’t be that much at work.

  20. Blarg*

    I had yeller parents. I *cannot* tolerate colleagues or bosses who yell. At me or around me. I left hospital-based work because it was so normalized that surgeons and others were almost expected to yell. Nope. Not interested.

    1. OhNo*

      Same – after the way I grew up, I cannot, will not, and do not tolerate yelling. At all. I’m lucky that my conditioned response is to go ‘cold’ and get super icy and polite, so I wouldn’t get in too much trouble in a professional environment.

      But I definitely have relatives who have been conditioned to immediately respond by yelling right back. If they didn’t do so growing up, the situation would only get worse, so their instincts kick in any time there is yelling in their vicinity. I understand it, but I would feel really bad for anyone caught in the crossfire if they ever work for a yeller boss.

      1. juliebulie*

        Hello, perhaps I am your cousin. I am the child of a yeller and after growing a backbone, I began reacting to yelling by… yelling back. Which is not a good response, admittedly, but at least I never initiate the yelling. (Can’t. Hurts my throat.)

        I have waited and waited for someone to yell at me so that I can try responding in a more mature manner, but now that I’m ready, no one will do it!

        1. OhNo*

          That’s the problem with working on your response to yelling – you can’t really practice it unless someone is actually yelling!

          One of my yell-right-back relatives outright told me that they don’t want to change their response, because it can be useful in some situations (once she got catcalled, at volume, and she just tore into the guy to a truly awe-inspiring degree right there on the sidewalk; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man more surprised and uncomfortable in my life). It’s not all bad as a response – it’s just definitely not something I would want to experience at work!

          1. juliebulie*

            Right. You try not to yell [back] at coworkers and family because you don’t want to burn the relationship over it. I don’t feel the same way about random assholes on the street, though usually I just ignore them (something that it’s better NOT to do with coworkers and family because it’s not assertive).

      2. The Original K.*

        Me too. Both my parents yelled; today, as an adult, no one gets to yell at me, full stop. Like you, I tend to show anger by shutting down and going icy and cold – if I’m seething, I am furious.

      3. alienor*

        I used to be married to a yeller, and yelling back would just make him angrier and prolong the tirade, so I developed that same going-cold response as a reflex. I’ve been screamed at by an abusive boss and just sat there, going colder and colder, until he had to stop so he could go to another meeting. I actually suspect that it’s a form of PTSD, because it’s totally involuntary, but it does seem to make yelling less satisfying for the yeller.

        1. J.B.*

          Yes I think it is. If you ever want to read about it the book “ACOA trauma syndrome” talks about it.

      4. J.B.*

        I will start to yell but can bring in that icy tone when reminded that I’m matching someone’s volume. It is freaky. And the result of some cruddy stuff in my childhood. Much better to leave the yelling environment.

    2. Burned Out Supervisor*

      Same. I RARELY yell at someone (I think I did it once to my mom and once I raised my voice in a meeting because I’d just had it that day) because I grew up with yellers. The few times I’ve yelled at a person, I fell all over myself apologizing immediately after.

    3. Blueberry*

      Ugh, hospital work is the worst for people yelling, screaming, and insulting others. I hear you.

    4. WS*

      Yes, hospital work is really notable for the number of yellers. Mostly it’s okay people under massive but temporary stress, but it means that the real assholes also get away with it.

  21. Don'tYell*

    I worked for a small business ran by a married couple. The man would have explosive, yelling fits and his wife would excuse the behavior really weirdly. At first, it seemed totally random. After time, my coworkers and I realized he was only yelling at women, and only when certain men weren’t around. He would yell at a woman employee, and then later in the day be really nice to her without ever acknowledging his problematic behavior or apologizing. It created a sort of toxic imbalance in the team because some people just didn’t see the behavior while others were feeling triggered due to past abuse/violence they had experienced. I was super glad to leave.

  22. Kara*

    I had a boss who yelled. When I’d had the last straw (she called me an “idiot” for something out of my control) I quit on the spot. Felt sooooo good.

    1. Kara*

      P.s. this was my first job out of college, working for a family acquaintance. The consequences of quitting were low.

  23. YouCanGoHomeAgain*

    A few years ago, I worked in a small office and THE boss took it upon himself to ream out me and the other office worker, for not pushing for sales enough. Had me in tears and I quit soon after. I was hired for bookkeeping, NOT sales and it wasn’t my fault the business was floundering. I was doing all I could managing the money we did have.

  24. AFRS*

    I work in academia, and was told that I needed to be more “resilient” when my former boss (a doctor – MD) would be hostile, patronizing, and yell at me. In other words, just take it and not let it get to me. Not that he needed to change, because heaven forbid we hold people accountable for abusive behavior. Thankfully, I got away from that boss but still work at the institution. Thank you so much for this advice, Alison – it is super important!

    1. Goldenrod*

      Ha ha, yeah, when you are lower on the totem pole it’s somehow always going to be your fault when someone else can’t control their emotions!

    2. ange*

      One of the most satistfying moments I saw in my work in academia was when a very distinguished senior professor totally lost his cool with a young woman who was the department’s secretary. He was unprofessional and uncivil, implied she was incompetent, etc. She calmly replied to all his yelling that she didn’t care about any of his titles or awards in “a topic no one cares about anyway,” he didn’t sign her paychecks, and she was a union employee so he could scream all day and it wouldn’t affect her. It was glorious. He walked away and has almost never approached her since!

  25. HeronByTheLake*

    When I was younger and early in my career the President (top guy) yelled at me…first time I’d seen someone’s eyes turn black (no exaggeration). I was being blamed for something that was out of my control. He was frustrated because he didn’t have the proper papers for a board meeting and had looked bad in front of the Directors. But, after his verbal tirade that took place in front of coworkers I cried without uttering even one word in my defense. Thankfully, it turned into a good experience because I vowed to never again cry when someone did that. In several other companies and jobs, I’ve been yelled at a few more times. But after that initial awful experience, I gained the fortitude to stand up for myself professionally with as much strength and kindness possible and haven’t allowed anyone’s yelling to settle on me. I had been blindsided when this happened the first time but since then I’m prepared for when other situations have involved me being the recipient of someone’s yelling. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in a long, long time. Sometimes people can identify someone who won’t (or don’t know how to) stand up for themselves and see that as open territory for their abuse which means they can also identify who they cannot intimidate. On a side note, it always makes me sad when these things happen because if they’re yelling at work, then I wonder what happens at home.

  26. RabbitRabbit*

    We had a manager in my department (not in my chain, managed a different division) who had a history of issues, mostly around the disrespectful way he treated women. But he was good enough at schmoozing and bringing in money, and women didn’t really report him – he was mostly toward the jerk/verbal bully end of the scale, not other physical/sexual/yelling behaviors – so he stuck around. Until an argument with one woman blew up to the point of him yelling, a lot, and security being called. He was removed from the building. The next couple weeks were quiet, leading with the department’s boss stating that Yelling Dude was away and that Department Boss would be handling duties in the interim, and then an e-mail that Yelling Dude is no longer with the institution and his underling was the interim manager.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Oh, and I realized I had a boss who once was mad – not at me, at perceived delays in another department – and resorted to a full on, stomping his foot and yelling fit. He looked like a child throwing a tantrum and I lost a ton of respect for him that day, especially because he did it in earshot of someone from an outside company who we had a contract with.

  27. Hey, that's my boss!*

    In our case, it’s not just the yelling, but the utter contempt that drips from our boss’ words when he gets into one of those screaming modes. It sucks. Especially when you realize that you’ve internalized the de-valuing of your work and self.

    It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; when the boss screams at you for being incompetent, unthinking, unmotivated, stupid, lazy or whatever, that’s what you become, because if hard work and dedication get you screamed at and condescended to, then why even try? It kills your career, and it kills who you are.

    Obviously I should have left a long time ago.

  28. Silent_stars*

    I had one of the senior managers for a different location yell at me for three minutes because I wasn’t willing to follow her orders without talking to my bosses first (the two facilities had very different production schedules and she wanted me to do something that would have a serious impact on my location). She said some hurtful things and I ended up in tears.
    Post mortem was 1. Yes, the two facilities are handling this project differently and we will talk to her about that; 2. She might have been a little harsh but ‘this is what we pay you to put up with’. I’m still looking for another job.

  29. Hannah Banana*

    I’ve always been hesitant to do this when other people are around. I’ve never been “yelled at” per say but I have had coworkers or bosses be snarky and raise their tone a bit. I’ve always wanted to say something like what Allison mentioned but there are always other people around. Part of me feels like I don’t give a F if I embarrass them, bc they’re being a dick. but on the other hand… you know!


    1. juliebulie*

      But that’s why Alison’s scripts are so helpful. There are ways to push back that are respectful and humane, i.e. no one can say you were being a jerk. “I understand if you’re upset, but when you talk to me that way, it doesn’t help me do a better job.”

  30. Mr. Shark*

    I used to work at a place which we had meetings every morning. One of the guys was former military, and we’d get in the meeting, and he’d yell and scream, threaten to rip this guys’ head off and kill him, and the guy who he was yelling at was just sort of “la-di-da” and just look at him and replied in a calm voice at everything the guy yelling told him.

    It was obviously completely inappropriate, but hilarious to watch, because it just pissed off the guy who was yelling even more that the other guy didn’t care and it didn’t bother him a bit.

    1. Auntie Social*

      I always got paid extra to work for former Marines, who apparently terrified the other paralegals. But their instructions were so clear that that you couldn’t possibly misinterpret them, they gave me plenty of time, and they didn’t care if I swore. I was in heaven and each of them went on the bench. (One of them drank his lunch one day with some other guys he’d served with. He was nodding off in his chair until I whistled and yelled “incoming!” He became one with the carpet–I’ve never seen anyone get that flat.)

  31. Amy Sly*

    Oh, I feel this. One of my college jobs was at a small shoe store, and the GM was the reason I started my “quit jobs when you want to drink before work” rule. In fairness, some of the problem was a culture clash: normal conversational speech volume levels differ between Puerto Rican New Yorkers and Midwesterns. Even when he wasn’t actually throwing a fit, to my ears he sounded as angry as my dad would be when dispensing a well-earned punishment. And then when GM threw a fit on top of that …

    Well, I know he chased off enough customers that a competing local store grew to three locations while GM had to close down his second.

  32. Michelle*

    I think I told this here before- I worked at a daycare that also had a state-funded pre-K. I was hired to work for the pre-k and was never told during the interview that I was expected to help at the front desk when the front desk person or owner was out. FIRST day on the job she pulls me from my office where I am trying to organize the mess the last person left to handle the front desk because she needed to go on errands. I how no idea where the front desk person was. I told her I didn’t fell comfortable because I didn’t know what to do. Long story short, a bunch of stuff happened- I didn’t know how to take payments or how to buzz parents in the door or really anything. I had been there only 4 hours. She finally came back and was LIVID- yelling and turning red in the face- that I hadn’t been able to help people. I told her that I couldn’t work in this type of environment. As I was gathering my personal belongings she was yelling about she needed her logo shirt back. I took it off, tossed it at her and walked to my car in my bra.

  33. Checking it out*

    I had a Director of a large commercial real estate office come unhinged on me at the company holiday party. I was the HR coordinator and the week I started I was given the holiday party to confirm arrangements etc. The venue had already been booked, I just had to make sure the reminders went out, confirmed attendees etc. Day of the event I headed out early, got to the hotel to make sure everything was on track. Once people started arriving I got myself a drink and joined the party. About an hour later the hotel catering manager found me and said “Jane is looking for you”. I followed her into a ball room where I saw my boss and coworker standing in front of Jane with stone serious faces on. Jane then turned to me and proceeded to yell, asking why I hadn’t made her aware that the hotel was under construction and how it looked bad for our people to enter the hotel through construction etc. I had no idea what to say and promptly started crying (I was young and had a few already). Next week in the office Jane sent an email asking for an explanation. I went back and re-read the contract, sure enough, it had been signed by my boss the week before I started and on the last page was a disclaimer about the construction.

  34. Snark*

    Yelling is, of course, a bad thing when it is regular and/or abusive and/or used to instill fear, intimidation, or insecurity among your colleagues or employees. And a full-volume bellow is, for all intents and purposes, always going to be one of those things. And raising your tone in anger or frustration is almost never the best of all possible courses of action, if you can choose another way. But I’m going to be the voice of dissent here and say that I don’t think yelling – in the sense of an angry, raised tone – is necessarily categorically wrong.

    1. juliebulie*

      I think it’s acceptable to yell or even bellow in frustration once in a blue moon, as long as it’s not directed at someone personally. It might even be good once in a while to show that you have limits and that you can express outrage over something outrageous. (Like a really stupid HR policy.) I just don’t like when it’s meant to humiliate someone and tear them to shreds.

      1. Snark*

        Yeah, absolutely, it’s much more defensible when it’s not directed at a person in a conflict-type situation. My boss and I spent a while the other day yelling at my monitor, after a particularly insane email.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        This is the key difference to me. Yelling at something “Oh *%•#^* my computer” or about something “What an idiotic stupid policy!” are very different things from yelling at someone in order to frighten or belittle them.

    2. Zennish*

      With a manager to an employee, I think it is. Not only does the power dynamic make it unlikely to not come across as intimidating, it’s also basically saying “I do not have control of myself and/or this situation” which is not usually the message a manager wants to convey.

      1. Snark*

        Hm. Interesting point. My initial reaction is that there are still situations where it does not express intimidation but rather “I am incredibly angry with you about this thing that you are obstinately pushing back on” or “You have done something so far beyond the pale of professionalism/ethics/morals/good sense that you need a stiff shot of reality.” But I’m open to your point about the boss-employee dynamic, I just have to consider it more.

        I disagree that a raised tone alone indicates a lack of control of oneself or the situation.

        1. juliebulie*

          I also think most observers can tell the difference between out-of-control yelling and deliberate yelling. (ICBW) But I am not so sure that all yellers know whether they are out of control or not.

    3. Goldenrod*

      I agree with this. You can have a “heated exchange” between peers, and I think that should be acceptable in most cases, if you are just trying to hash something out. Of course I’m from NYC so that feels normal to me – but scary to my peers in the Pacific Northwest.

      My current boss is mean, belittling, insulting, disrespectful and intimidating to employees on a daily basis. One thing she does not do? Yell. She manages to be super shitty all the time while not actually yelling.

    4. Dasein9*

      Yeah, I’m trying to think of times when yelling-at is a good idea but they all seem like they’re appropriate for the person with less power to use. The obvious example is “Get your hands off me!” The only cases I can think of where yelling-at is warranted is one where the party with greater authority has already overstepped.

      1. Beatrice*

        I have a tendency to yell back when I’m being yelled at. The reaction is difficult to control. Depending on the situation and the person, sometimes I don’t bother to control it, I just let it fly.

        I needed to ask someone to compile a report for me routinely about a year ago. He didn’t want to do it because it was a pain, and started yelling at me about how difficult it was, that he didn’t feel it was a productive use of his time, and he had better things to do. I had a compelling counter argument and I matched his voice volume while I made it. I had been asking for the information for months, others had asked for it as well, and that encounter was what it took to get it. I don’t regret it or feel like I was abusive or mean by handling it that way.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Pretty hard disagree. Grown-ass adults should control themselves in the workplace, period.

      If you get startled or feel threatened, or there’s an emergency like a fire, or you’re trying to be heard over machinery or other noise, then whatever. But an angry, raised tone at a co-worker (or, worse, at a subordinate) is 100% out of line. You can feel passionate about something but in the workplace you don’t lose control of your negative, anti-social emotions. If you can’t express yourself without raising an angry tone, then you should excuse yourself and come back when you’ve regained control.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          If it’s not a lack of control, then it’s an inappropriate expression of a negative, anti-social emotion in the workplace in any event.

        2. Traffic_Spiral*

          Ok, so you treat people badly well having full control of your decision to do so? Well, that doesn’t make it better, bubba. Be an adult and use your inside voice.

    6. Anonymous For This*

      I mean, if someone’s hurt or there’s a fire, sure.

      But otherwise, it’s really not needed.

      And personally, I simultaneously get scared of and lose respect for yellers. I’m intimidated for a little while and then I think the yeller is a child indefinitely. That’s not what anybody wants, right?

    7. Sleepless*

      I actually yelled, like REALLY loudly, on the phone with a peer at another company. He was known locally in our industry as a bully, and he called me trying to pick a fight, and I pushed back. I wanted to make my point in a way a bully would understand…and wow did I succeed. I created a minor PR problem for my boss, but it all worked out and I regret nothing.

  35. Pretzelgirl*

    My first job out of college was at small and awful little employment agency. I received no training and had no one to tell me what to do on my 2nd day on the job. On my 3rd day my boss comes bounding into the office and screams at me and another cow0rker (who also just started), on way we screwed up XYZ. I said “Uh because its our 3rd day here and no one was here to train us….” She looked like a cartoon character turning red with steam protruding from her head. I was yelled at for not wearing a suit, when the males in the office could wear polos. Finally I asked to leave the office a few minutes early for a doctor’s appointment (several weeks in advance) and was fired on the spot for asking. It was probably the worse week, I have ever spent in my life.

  36. Brazilian Hobbit*

    I had a supervisor a while ago who would yell any time things didn’t go her way. I was already considering leaving that job because the commute was absolutely terrible, but what closed the deal was her starting to yell at me in front of everyone that I was lazy, incompetent and she didn’t know why I even worked there when I went to warn her that I had a doctor’s appointment the next day and would possibly get late by a few minutes (ended up coming in on time, but I always give a heads up anyway just in case). I listened in complete silence, asked if she was done and went to my work station. Presented my resignation, effective immediately, not long after (it was a big company, me quitting wouldn’t cause them a significant shortage on staffing). Her jaw dropped, and she started going on and on about how she didn’t want me to quit, why was I not happy? I was her most productive operator (true), a highly valued employee, blah blah blah. Funny how the tune changes when you decide to leave.

    I had another yeller for a boss at a previous job, but this one yelled at the whole team in general, so it didn’t really bother me that much – and I was a lot younger and less experienced, so a part of me felt like I had to take it and be happy I had a job.

  37. Ex-consultant*

    My partner does – they work at a start-up NGO with a severe case of Founder’s Syndrome. This week, they got yelled at for not answering an email the boss sent late the night before. It was around noon, and they’d been in meetings all morning – the boss has access to their calendar. Funnily enough, I’d just watched an episode of It’s Me or the Dog ( that day and all I could think about was the technique Victoria uses to disarm the dog. It’s at around 4:15, if anyone cares. Not that I’d suggest treating one’s boss like a dog, but it made us chuckle.

    1. PurpleMonster*

      I use so many dog training techniques on my toddler! Makes sense then that they’d work on an adult who’s behaving like one.

  38. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I had a supervisor who HATED my guts. He’d belittle me in front of customers, make comments about how “women can’t do anything,” and when I’d tell customers my title (confirmed by the store manager!), he’d loudly yell, “Quit lying, that position doesn’t exist anymore!” I was told to go outside or otherwise off the floor if he started yelling at me, but he’d physically prevent that or threaten to write me up for walking away.

    Once, he actually trapped me in a back room that had 2 locked doors (office and high value items) and blocked the only exit out to scream at me so loud, customers outside the room heard him! I tried to respond by telling him this was illegal, and that he could not imprison me, until my voice was as loud as his. THEN he let me out, and *I* was written up for being heard by customers.

    I went to HR repeatedly about him, but was told every time that I must have “provoked” him. (With the implication that his accusations that I was a trouble-making woman were correct) The store manager seemed sympathetic, and claimed corporate wouldn’t let her fire him. (He’d been promoted by the previous manager.) But at the same time, she stood behind the write-ups and corporate’s response.

    He was finally fired after nearly a year of this. The reason? A black coworker was on the phone with a customer, and this supervisor decided the call had gone on too long. So he responded by dumping the cashier’s cup of water over the young man’s head. The reason for the supervisor’s firing was partially stated as racism. I guess corporate takes THAT more seriously than sexism!

    It still upsets me 2 years later, over a year after they let me go because I was a full-time non-manager. (Claiming that a customer overhead me being rude to another customer on the phone, on a day I wasn’t even in the store because it was my DAY OFF. But I was re-hireable! At lower pay, lower hours, another store, and the promise I would NEVER be management. At the time, I was literally the 2nd best sales person in the company. (I have paperwork to prove it.) I haven’t worked retail since, and never, ever will again.)

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      Also, I really don’t care if any former coworkers see this. That chapter of my life is over, I’m in a completely different field, and I have documentation of *everything.*

  39. BlackSweater*

    Years ago, I interned at a mid sized office where the Big Boss aka the company owner, had a weird Jekyll &Hyde situation happening. He was generous with his staff and interns, pushed development and growth opportunities, provided great benefits and worked to mentor everyone. Good pay too, even as an intern.

    A couple days of the week, he’d go into his corner office, have some sort of call with his door closed, then scream and swear and throw things in there. I think books to the floor? It was like *SWEARING* *MORE SWEARING * for like 5-10 minutes. Then he’d walk out and calmly follow up with his assistant on client issues from the call. He never yelled at people, and even when there were wcrew ups or mistakes, you could tell he was Disappointed and Frustrated, but he never yelled and just worked on getting things fixed.

    I still don’t know how I feel about him. Of his employees, the people who sat near his office or across the building definitely had different feelings about him though.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Wow! That really, really makes me wonder who was on the other end? Do you think it was family? A partner? Ex-wife, perhaps? Sometimes only family can push buttons like that.

      To be honest, this wouldn’t upset me too much, because he did try to keep it private and did not act that way to those in his employ. While shocking to overhear, it may not have had anything to do with work.

  40. Wicked Witch of the West*

    Many years ago I worked for an accounting firm as a staff accountant. In the days when we still did “books” with pen and paper. I was the only female who wasn’t clerical. I heard the big boss tell the operations partner “don’t let that little girl work on any of my clients”. (I was late 20s, short, petite, and hair like Alice in Wonderland)

    Months pass with borderline rude behavior from his side. One day he called loudly for me to come to his office. He started berating me about the set of books he had open on his desk. All the things that were wrong, blah blah blah. I tried to explain I hadn’t done the work. He just kept talking loudly over me. I just walked out of his office, went back to my cubicle, and resumed my work. I see him come flying out of his office, around the corner, heading for the operations partner’s office. My desk phone rings. Operations partner, could I come to his office. I went. Operations partner says, “big boss” says he was explaining to you about some problems with a set of books and you walked out on him. I said, yes, I did. I tried telling him I didn’t work on that set of books, and he wouldn’t listen.

    Big boss was nice as pie to me the rest of the time I worked there.

  41. Zennish*

    I’m not sure I have a bigger peeve than yelling supervisors. My personal belief is that yelling only shows a lack of emotional intelligence, self control, and/or communication skills. I also think that those who say they are just using it for emphasis, or to express frustration, or whatever are failing to realize that the yelling itself draws the focus away from the point they’re trying to make.

  42. Frankie Bergstein*

    I had an abusive Dad, then two yelling bosses in a row. I wouldn’t wish that combo on anyone! I can’t even go by those offices anymore without feeling a smidgen panicky.

    Thankfully, now I’m in an environment that is emotionally predictable and even-keeled, and it’s done wonders for my mental health.

  43. Chaotic Neutral*

    I had a boss who would scream at me in Tagalog all day. I have no idea what he was pissed about- I don’t speak Tagalog (which he definitely knew). He’s the only one I can think of whoever yelled at me. I did tell him one day “Danny if you’ll scream at me in English maybe I can fix the problem.” He just shook his head and walked off.

  44. mf*

    I’ve never had a boss who was a yeller, but I was once yelled at over the phone by a senior coworker. She called me up the next day and sincerely apologized. Our relationship actually got better after this because I had more respect for her after she apologized. It took a lot of courage for her to do that.

    Moral of the story: Yelling is bad and you should avoid it at all costs. But if you screw up, it’s not the end of the world as long as you apologize, own your bad behavior, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

  45. i feel lucky*

    I got yelled at once on a farm for driving a truck too fast near the staging area (after the fact). Only experience with a yeller I can think of, and I had a lot of menial jobs when I was younger.

    It was not productive, because it was one of those situations where the guy, a co-owner, obviously decided to unload his frustrations on the first person he saw doing it even though he knew other people were doing it.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      See, if there is something that unsafe and could potentially be a danger to others, I think it’s ok to yell at someone for it. It’s an exception.
      Because the shock of being yelled at will definitely make you remember it and that it wasn’t ok to run with scissors! (Or drive a truck too fast)

  46. Senatormeathooks*

    My parents often yelled at me as I was growing up. I tolerated it then, because, well I was a child.

    I do not tolerate being yelled at as an adult by anyone, and yes, I am willing to chance being let go over it – although my reaction will always be reasonable and calm.

  47. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

    Hubby worked for a boss (company owner, no one told *him* what do to do!) that was nicknamed The Hairdryer.
    He’d shout a lot of hot air in your face over pretty much nothing (basically the fact he had to employ anybody at all, everyone was an idiot who was taking money out of his pocket, etc. etc.)
    Boss’s brother (co-owner, but with less influence somehow – equal shares but Boss was somehow more important than Brother???) was worse. When he spoke to you normally, he’d cover you with spittle; when he yelled it was like taking the most disgusting shower in the world.
    Hubby left that job years ago – now he works for a boss who ignores the fact that Hubby’s *co-worker* is the one who is yelling in his face.

  48. Sleepless*

    One of my bosses is a brilliant, kind, and terribly high-strung person. She raises her voice/borderline yells a LOT. People *mostly* laugh it off as “just the way she is,” but I’m getting pretty f’ing tired of it, and it’s one reason I’m going to start job searching soon.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yelling or getting overly excited/frustrated?
      Some people’s register goes up when they’re feeling frustrated, though it’s not directed at anyone in particular.

  49. I'm A Little Teapot*

    There’s a yeller on my team, and I got a text today from a coworker (I’m on PTO this week) that the yeller is leaving! Yay! I’d actually gone to HR about her behavior, and they were being somewhat useful, which was a nice outcome. But her getting a new job entirely is even better.

  50. Fae Kamen*

    I had a boss, longtime owner of his own tiny company, who would yell and say nasty things. Never okay, but also, I was 1) overworking and 2) high-performing and 3) faaaar underpaid. After a while I decided that yelling was his way of letting me know he didn’t want any more work done that day. Almost an even trade! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  51. Bagpuss*

    My second boss used to shout at staff. And that was only one of the ways in which he was a terrible boss and a very unpleasant person.
    He only did it to me once, I was really shocked but my immediate response was to say something along the lines of “I can see you’re angry, can we talk about this when you’re calmer?” – it completely took the wind out of his sails.
    It wasn’t deliberate on my part. Later I worked out that what he wanted was for me to either burst into tears (‘proving la I was over-emotional and ‘unprofessional’ ) or to yell back at him in which case I would be in the wrong for yelling at my boss. I saw him do it to others, then afterwards he would tell people that ‘Jane’ screamed and yelled at him, making it sound as if they’d done so unprovoked.
    He also used to throw things, and lied.
    I was only in that job 18 months but it really affected my confidence in myself for years.
    It was in a small branch office and the other partners in the business didn’t care – They appeared to take the view that it was his office and up to him how to run it. (That business was sloppy as hell about a bunch of stuff)
    I wish I had left sooner – but I was inexperienced and it was a time when jobs in my field were very hard to find.

  52. Abusive bosses suck*

    Yep. Boss in 2012-14 was a yeller. Abused all the staff. Made 8 of 18 of team leave. Several had to go on mental care leave. He was fired in 2014 on Thanksgiving day after 8 months of board investigating and hr doing not much, they sucked too.

  53. Sled dog mama*

    The one and only time I’ve been yelled at at work was by a temp who was brought in on a 3 month contract to fill in for my boss at one site after boss had surgery. Temp guy was awful from the beginning treating my like his secretary (rather than a highly qualified professional with 5 years of experience) and treating me very differently from the two men.
    Boss knew I was looking for something new (fantastic boss, no room for advancement with that company, and he encouraged me to do what I needed to for my career). After I put in my notice (4 weeks as is standard in my position) company asked me to extend two weeks at the second site I covered because they were having trouble getting coverage setup for that site, I agreed and somehow temp guy got the idea that my last day at his site changed. The day before my last day temp guy interrupted me during a presentation to ask when my last day there was (it had never changed). I replied that that wasn’t really pertinent to the presentation he yelled (also loudly) that my response was bull$&@t and that when he asks a question he expects a direct answer. I replied that he didn’t get to treat me like that and I was done, walked out and immediately phoned our amazing HR rep. HR was horrified that I had reported his behavior and it had gone nowhere for months.
    I was told that he is now black listed from further temp jobs with that company and can’t get a reference for temp jobs with other companies.

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Left out that he called a two year long stat tracking project that boss had asked for c$&@ and a waste of time.

  54. Anon Here*

    What do you do if you’re between bosses, the person you report to is too high ranking and busy to talk to you, and Yeller is on the same level as you but slightly senior in that they have a direct report or two and you don’t?

    I mean if the yelling is completely unprovoked and extreme, like an hour of phone yelling because you called to ask a reasonable question.

  55. She of the Ringing Ears*

    I work for a horrible manager who yells and swears constantly. It’s taken a huge toll on my mental health. I’m over 60, and I really need to be able to pay my mortgage (result of a late start in professional life combined with a divorce) and I admit to having the self-defeating attitude of, “no one wants to hire someone my age for professional position,” even though I would be happy to work another 8-9 years if I could find a non-toxic job. I know I can’t last that long in this one.

  56. Fred*

    Over the last few months I’ve learned people do not listen. I mock bosses who repeat the same things at the staff meeting every week. I heard you the first time. Please stop wasting our time.

    As it turns those managers are much more patient than I am. They understand staffers don’t pay attention and need to be told the same thing many, many times before they hear it.

    I say things once. I expect people to listen. I expect people to hear me. If it turns out you didn’t hear it and I have to repeat it please allow me to say it a little more loudly. Perhaps my tone and volume will get your attention…Can You Hear Me Now?!

  57. ArtK*

    I walked out of a meeting with my boss, the CTO after he yelled at me and waggled his finger in my face. He had said “We’re doing X, Y, and Z” and I had the nerve to say that Y was technically impossible. He later accused me of being unprofessional for walking out. I thougt that it was more professional to not yell back.

  58. Junior Assistant Peon*

    My first industry boss after grad school was a yeller. I saw absolutely nothing wrong with this because the toxic environment of academia had warped my perception of what is and isn’t normal workplace behavior. Fortunately, everyone else did see something wrong with this, and she didn’t last long at the company. The last time I checked her LinkedIn, I saw she had worked a string of jobs that never lasted more than a year or so, with long gaps in between. I feel sorry for her because she was great when she was in a good mood, and I think she likely had some undiagnosed psych issues.

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