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Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers/How do I stop the verbal attacks?


Over the last few months I have been called into the bosses office and told how terrible I am. I don't respond to people correctly, I am rude, abrasive, short and a bully. He has told me on a number of times that I am a bully and that no one likes me or wants me there. He goes on to try and "help" me because my work is great. I have been given a reprimand that has incidents in there that are lies. The last 2 weeks I have had marathon sessions with him on how Me one likes me, they are afraid of me, my tone is wrong, I am hiding information from people and the worse is that I am a mean person. The last session included my co-worker and they both went through the list of what I do wrong.I am afraid to talk to anyone and have been calling in sick. I suffer from severe depression and this is really taking it's toll on me. How can I stop this? I really can't take anymore.


If the boss is acting inappropriately, then you are always welcome to find another job somewhere else. I'm not sure why you'd want to stick around at a place where everyone is against you.

However, I suspect that your boss really is trying to help you, and you might actually be bringing this behavior on inadvertently. Your boss is going about giving you advice in the wrong way, but rather than trying to change the boss, you should probably be trying to figure out what has happened that is causing the boss to react this way. It might be that one or more of your coworkers have something against you, and they might be sabotaging you. More likely, though, it might be that you are really goal oriented and task oriented (focused), and while you are focused on the task at hand, you are overlooking the feelings of your coworkers. Your coworkers are likely misinterpreting your words and actions because they think that you are attacking them.

Here is an example. The boss tells the team about a fast deadline, so you jump right on your role in the project to make sure that the team hits the deadline. You notice that someone else on the team hasn't just dropped everything like you, and now she is behind on the more critical deadline project. So, you watch her take a longer lunch and chat with coworkers at the copier. Finally, you've had enough so you walk over to her and just subtly ask, "Have you finished you part of the XYZ project yet?"  Of course, although you are trying to hide your disgust at how lackadaisical she is about the project, your tone is still a little sharp with her.

From your prospective, she's letting the team down, and you are doing what needs to be done in order to not miss the deadline.  From her perspective, though, you have overstepped your bounds and attacked her. She thinks that she is a hard worker and id mad that you don't see how busy she is -- she can't just drop everything to please you.  

See how the two of you are seeing the same situation in totally different ways. You walk away thinking, "Finally... Now we can get this project moving."  She walks away saying, "Who does Michele think she is?"  Now, all it takes is for someone to walk by while she is mad at you. She'll tell the new coworker what happened, and then the coworker responds with, "Michele does that to me too!"

I really don't know exactly what is causing the challenges based on what you have told me so far, but my guess is that some similar occurrence started the problem. To fix it, start looking at the situations from the other person's point of view assuming that he/she will never think that he/she is wrong.  For instance, in the situation above, start the conversation with, "I know you are busy, but I was wondering if you could help me?" When the person says yes, just add the "have you had a chance to start on the XYZ project yet?"

Hope that helps.

Doug Staneart
The Leader's Institute  
Fearless Presentations

Dealing with Bosses and Coworkers

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Doug Staneart


Doug Staneart can answer questions about gaining cooperation from, motivating, and influencing coworkers and employers. He is also an expert on how to avoid and resolve conflicts as well as other issues dealing with long term business relationships.


Doug Staneart has been a speaker and trainer for over ten years specializing in public speaking, leadership training, and team building. Doug is CEO of The Leader?s Institute® (Team Building Events) based in Dallas and author of the books 40 Ways to Influence People and Fearless Presentations. He has accumulated over 2700 hours of classroom coaching and training with over 400 of the Fortune 500.

BA Business Management

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