How To Tell Your Manager To Stop Trying To Kill You

John Scott Stories

I recently posted something on my book site about the difference between love and hate.

Hate requires virtually the same amount of passion as love. It takes up space in your brain. It consumes your being. It keeps you awake at night.

We often use words like love and hate with little thought to their real meaning.

Hate is a powerful emotion, and it’s not something to be taken lightly.

It’s possible that your misery is being caused by a manager who hates you.

Let’s assume you are a loyal, honest employee who is doing everything asked of you, and you are performing well at your job. Let’s assume your competence in most phases of your job.

Yet the tension with the boss is palpable, and other colleagues have mentioned it.

They’ve said something like “What is his/her problem with you?”

At team meetings, others present updates and reports, and the vibe in the room is friendly. Then it’s your turn. You see the eyes of your colleagues drop. Silence fills the room. They can feel it too.

Your manager asks you pointed questions, perhaps not listening to the words you are saying, repeating what you just said, as if it’s the first time anyone has said it. You are nervous. You continue on with your presentation, but your confidence was dinged.

You leave the meetings frustrated, questions swirling in your head. You have to wonder if this is your fault.

No easy answer here, but while managing a manager is a delicate science, there are boundaries.

You aren’t there to be friends. You are there to do a job and to work in a professional atmosphere. If your boss is treating you like a doormat in front of others and you have no idea why it’s happening, perhaps it’s time to shut it down.

Some people enjoy preying on the weaker among them. Co-workers do this all the time. Not being proactive is almost the same as sending a message to your boss that says you’re okay with being treated this way.

If you have solid ground to stand on, you have done your work and done it well, you have earned permission to do the following:

Walk in to the manager’s office. You are not angry – you are under control. You’ve practiced your words and your reaction, so you’ll be cool in the fire.

Look them in the eye and say, “I’m disappointed in the way I was treated by you in front of the team. It was unwarranted and it wasn’t professional. I am happy to talk with you behind closed doors anytime about the quality of my work, and you have the right to ask questions about it.
Doing it in front of my co-workers is not productive and it makes me feel like a doormat. I want you to STOP IT.”

Keep eye contact. Do not exhale. Do not move. Do not say another word. No expression.

Wait. The next words will be coming from your boss.

What they say to you  will give you your answer. There will either be a stunned, stammering reply, an angry outburst, or a softening of the face and an invitation to sit down and talk some more. You’re going to know what you’re dealing with within seconds.

You have the right to call it like you see it, call it calmly and reasonably, call it to their face. Many times your abuser will comply! They’ll stop treating you like crap and move on to the next employee (sucks to be them). Maybe things will get better. Maybe things won’t change much at all.

At least you know what you’re dealing with.

Don’t tell anyone at work what you did. This isn’t about drama – it’s about professional respect. Be worthy of the respect you ask for.

We get shoved out of jobs we otherwise enjoy for the strangest reasons, and most of the time they are personal/emotional reasons having little to do with the actual gig.

You have the right to call it. If you’re unwilling or unable to ask, don’t expect your fallible, human manager to have an epiphany and start treating you differently.

Love and hate are powerful life forces. Consider where you stand in the organization.

Maybe your boss is merely indifferent about you.

That could be the worst feeling of all.


Screen Shot 2012-11-08 at 5.00.03 PMJohn Scott is an instructor, online learning coordinator, and the career services manager for the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco.  His book “Destination:Reinvention” is on sale now in the Amazon bookstore.  Grab a daily reinvention tip at 

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