Is my boss a bully?

I am normally an assertive person but someone who I work with – my boss actually – makes me feel like I am an idiot.

She constantly yells at me and always talks over the top of me. It has got to the point that I sometimes feel sick in the morning and nervous about seeing her.

Should I be more assertive? Is this bullying?


Bullying, harassment – and especially sexual harassment – are unacceptable in any workplace. But many people don’t realize when the line is crossed. And what can someone do if they are bullied? And how should the person doing the bullying be managed?

Bullying leads to stress, lowering of confidence and self-esteem, concentration and motivation. So if you are starting to feel sick and nervous around your boss who is constantly belittling you, it’s time to make some changes.

Your manager needs to be given feedback – in the first instance from you. Give specific examples of what is said, describe the tone and the impact on you. Is this manager behaving the same with other staff or is it just you? If her behaviour doesn’t change you should discuss the issue with your HR manager or her manager. It may be time for HR to give her a warning. But it’s hard if it’s the CEO we are discussing!

Try and come to an agreement – in fact for all members of the organization – regarding acceptable behaviors and non-acceptable behaviors, and regarding specific work outcomes and standards. Bullying is not acceptable in any workplace.

If the boss is behaving this way because your work performance is not up to standard then she needs to give you professional, specific feedback.

If you have ongoing issues and you are unable to resolve the differences, seek help from HR and possibly call in a mediator. Don’t let this situation go on for days, or weeks or months. Work should not be an unhappy place, so try and sort out the problem and keep working on a positive resolution so you can go back to enjoying your job!


Is she a bully?

• Regular put downs to one or more members of the team.
• Harsh indifference and lack of care – eg amused when someone is upset.
• Taunts and teases, even when asked not to.
• Belittles someone at work in public.
• Unfairly and repeatedly reprimands.
• Often yells at someone for no apparent reason. 

Watch the video of bullying and harrasment here.

Eve Ash is author of Rewrite Your Life! and Rewrite Your Relationships! and producer of the DVD Leadership Sins, a 2009 release from the DIFFICULT PEOPLE & SITUATIONS series by SEVEN DIMENSIONS

For more Eve Ash advice, click here.



Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments