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Being spoken to poorly at work


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#1 VVV

Posted 25 May 2019 - 10:49 PM

There’s a manager at work who has a habit of speaking to me (and others) really poorly. He can be incredibly blunt, almost sneers at me when I am speaking in meetings, opposes and questions most points I raise (to the point of being petty) and is quite frankly rude. It is much worse when there is someone else involved in a meeting or conversation who is superior to him or if there is an external consultant etc present. However, I note that he doesn’t act like this with a couple of pretty, flirty young things and he interacts with them in a completely different manner. They could state that the sky is pink and purple polka dots and he wouldn’t argue the point with them them.

I’m now at the stage where I’ve lost all confidence around him, I can’t gather my thoughts and am too conscious to participate or put my point of view forward. I second guess everything I say. What would you do? I honestly just feel like calling him out on it the next time he does it, regardless of whether we have an audience.

#2 Gentle Smentle

Posted 25 May 2019 - 11:40 PM

I would definitely call him out on it. No one has the right to make you feel like that.

#3 Mands09

Posted 26 May 2019 - 12:09 AM

I’d call him out on it. But then I’ve never cared much about any job so I’d call him out but secretly want to say a big FU and walk out.

He sounds foul. I have had a manager like that before and I’m SO glad I got the hell out of that team.

#4 YumChaTheSecond

Posted 26 May 2019 - 01:06 AM

It sounds like he's trying to impress the senior managers, by showing his 'superior knowledge' in undermining you in front of them.
Can you speak to one of the senior manager ahead of the next meeting to clue them in about his pattern of behaviour, so they're on the look out and can rein him in as soon as he starts up?
If he sees his behaviour gets him the opposite of what he wants, it may put a stop to it without you having to confront him directly.

#5 Wigglemama

Posted 26 May 2019 - 06:36 AM

I would call him on it directly and if that didn’t work I would lodge a formal complaint to his superiors.

#6 Charli73

Posted 26 May 2019 - 07:35 AM

I had a boss like that so I left as after 5years he never respected my ideas or suggestions and he always spoke to me like crap and I was his 2IC, but he gave the young pretty girls who did the basic roles all the time in the world and took their word as gospel..

If you call him out be prepared. It didn’t work in my situation but best of luck, do you have HR dept you could speak to?

#7 AliasMater

Posted 26 May 2019 - 07:51 AM

View PostYumChaTheSecond, on 26 May 2019 - 01:06 AM, said:

It sounds like he's trying to impress the senior managers, by showing his 'superior knowledge' in undermining you in front of them.
Can you speak to one of the senior manager ahead of the next meeting to clue them in about his pattern of behaviour, so they're on the look out and can rein him in as soon as he starts up?
If he sees his behaviour gets him the opposite of what he wants, it may put a stop to it without you having to confront him directly.

I agree with this 100%. Don't call him out, go higher so they can see the pattern of behaviour.

#8 CCABW

Posted 26 May 2019 - 07:56 AM

Things I would do:
1. Talk to him one on one and let him know that his behavior is unacceptable and rude.
2. At the same time point out in meetings when he is doing it. Like “let me finish...” when he cuts you off, politely disagree in meetings when he is being an idiot, and “don’t speak to me that way” if needed.
3. If the above does not work, speak to his supervisor
4. Speak to hr. Check the policies on bullying behavior and ask for their advice on how to deal with it.

All the time, remember to believe in yourself and your strengths. Do your job and do it well. Don’t let someone else’s failings cause you to lose confidence.

Good luck. I’ve dealt with idiots like this many times. The behavior usually comes from a place of insecurity in the bully. Playing to their strengths will get them on side more as well and you might be able to grow a mutually respectful working relationship which would be the best outcome here.

#9 StartledFlamingo

Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:34 AM

Do you think he's the kind to take feedback on board? Or escalate poor behaviours in revenge? Especially if you start in front of others.

I'd talk to HR first, and maybe your EAP if you have one.

I'd also document specific examples before you do anything, then after you do.

#10 Luci

Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:55 AM

You have my sympathies OP he sounds like a complete nightmare.  Unfortunately I suspect that if you call him out he will just deny the whole thing and try to make it look like you are the one being difficult. And he will then retaliate with even worse behavior.

As suggested by a PP, could you document some specific examples. Then keep an ongoing record for a couple of months. So log the date and each time he says something inappropriate. Then take the matter to someone more senior.

This sort of thing is so difficult to "prove" but having a good amount of clear written evidence can make it more concrete.

Good luck

#11 *Spikey*

Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:07 AM

He will have plausible deniability - he is just asking tough questions to make sure "you have gotten it right".

So reporting it to HR, or calling him on it are not going to be effective tactics.

What will work however, is "interesting perspective, can you elaborate on that?"

or

the five Whys - you keep asking why (or similar questions) until you get to the root cause of the issue.

You can also positively reframe everything he says that is negative, so that his digs rain glory and praise on you (even if you have to translate his speake to do so).

You can also say, "good question, I'll answer that when I've finished explaining this thing....".

Ignore the sneers etc, he probably has a physical condition that affects his face muscles so that he is stuck with a permanent fugly visage (at least, this is what you tell yourself).

In reality, he is feeling threatened by you, and by others and he doesn't have a way to successfully managing his feel-feels. You will succeed if you can attribute his behaviour to external conditions such as environmental pressures, work pressures, his impending heart attack, rather than malice on his behalf.

You pointed it out, he doesn't have a good communication skill set, and this is an environmental issue - it's not personal (although it feels it when you're on the receiving end of poor communication).

Edited by Catticus, 26 May 2019 - 10:08 AM.


#12 CCABW

Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:20 AM

OP - how long has he been at your organisation and how long has he acted like this? What’s the trigger for you finding the behavior problematic now? The answer to that will help nail the strategy that might work.

If you don’t know him well, grab a coffee with him, chat about how things might work better.

if you’ve been working together a long time and he’s started behaving this way, grab a coffee and find out what’s changed.

If he’s new to the organisation, grab a coffee and chat about how things have worked well in the past.

I am not a fan of going to higher up without a direct conversation first. The first thing higher up will ask is, have you discussed this with him.

#13 WannabeMasterchef

Posted 26 May 2019 - 11:01 AM

View PostCatticus, on 26 May 2019 - 10:07 AM, said:


In reality, he is feeling threatened by you, and by others and he doesn't have a way to successfully managing his feel-feels. You will succeed if you can attribute his behaviour to external conditions such as environmental pressures, work pressures, his impending heart attack, rather than malice on his behalf.

I think this is good advice. I will also add sometimes managers act like this when they don't actually know what they are doing so they want to make it look like they do. The younger less experienced staff might not realise that he is in over his head, but you might so hes trying to cut you down first.

#14 Hands Up

Posted 26 May 2019 - 02:47 PM

Wait until there is an audience of a more senior person there and then say things such as “please don’t interrupt me”. “I’m happy to take constructive feedback on board but there is nothing helpful about what you’ve just said”. “I don’t appreciate being spoken down to”.  And then look at the more senior person in the room. Keep looking until they speak up. It’s their job to reign the other person in.

Keep a log.

#15 Orangecake

Posted 26 May 2019 - 03:16 PM

If you are working in a decent organisation, I would be surprised if his behaviour has gone unnoticed. Particularly if he behaves like this in front of senior managers. I would do similar to Hands up and calmly call him on his behaviour in front of others. Choose a senior that is known for being fair and no nonsense.

#16 Madeline's Mum

Posted 26 May 2019 - 04:13 PM

I deal with a man like this at work, he huffs and puffs, rolls his eyes, throws his hands up when I speak, refuses eye contact and refuses written correspondence with me regardless of the content.

I had had enough one meeting when I was on VC and he was behaving as above, so I interrupted his interruption of me, and said “if you would just let me finish, I will explain what I am referring to” queue continued eye rolling, throwing his hands up, shaking his head, so I said “I realise that you might not understand that you are on VC, so I can see that you are having a physical reaction to what I am saying. I am not quite sure why you have such an issue with communicating or collaborating with me, but if you could refrain from the theatrics and allow the meeting to continue without the interruptions, we can discuss your issues separately”. He froze and went bright red, but allowed me to finish the meeting without any further behaviour.

I made an in writing report to HR immediately after it finished, as I had 6 witnesses and was fed up with it.

Nothing major happened, although he was told he had to find a way to work with me so we are professional in our meetings now. But I really just want to wipe the smug, sexist smirk off his face.

#17 timtam92

Posted 26 May 2019 - 06:04 PM

I had a boss like this. He would single people out - always women. Then manipulate them subtly. The last straw was a meeting I had in his glass office. I was in tears and very clearly distressed and no one, not even HR came to my rescue - I was in there for an hour. I was so upset that night that I never went back. Took stress leave and then resigned. I told hr everything he had done and how I wasn’t the first, but she didn’t seem too concerned. The owners were also told that I was the third “victim “ and they said they know what he does, but he is good at his job so nothing will happen. It’s been 12 months since I left and I’m not fully over it.

They don’t change. I would look for another job and get out as soon as you can.

#18 TrixieBelden

Posted 26 May 2019 - 06:10 PM

Phrases I have used successfully with these people:

‘I’ll just remind you that in a professional environment it’s important to speak civilly to each other.”
“I don’t find sarcasm useful in the workplace.”
[said firmly whilst looking at everyone in the room] “I’ll finish my remarks.”
‘Are you able to articulate your concern?’

I work in a very macho culture.

#19 VVV

Posted 26 May 2019 - 06:45 PM

View PostCCABW, on 26 May 2019 - 10:20 AM, said:

OP - how long has he been at your organisation and how long has he acted like this? What’s the trigger for you finding the behavior problematic now? The answer to that will help nail the strategy that might work.

If you don’t know him well, grab a coffee with him, chat about how things might work better.

if you’ve been working together a long time and he’s started behaving this way, grab a coffee and find out what’s changed.

If he’s new to the organisation, grab a coffee and chat about how things have worked well in the past.

I am not a fan of going to higher up without a direct conversation first. The first thing higher up will ask is, have you discussed this with him.

I’ve been with the organisation coming up six years and he has been there just over one. When he first started he wasn’t as bad but the more he gets away with it and the more power he gets (he’s recently had a temporary promotion) the worse he gets.

I also think my mental health is suffering at the moment which makes me more sensitive to it, where previously I would try and let it roll off of me.

Also, thanks everyone for your replies - makes me feel not so alone in this situation.

#20 newmumandexcited

Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:26 PM

I would call him out but publically with a comment like ‘do not speak over me, please wait until I have finished’ etc. Very civil. I would not speak or meet with him privately.

#21 Fresh Start

Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:44 PM

I recently said to a colleague, not boss, “I’ll stop talking so you can interrupt”.

She said “I wasn’t interrupting you” and I said “words were coming out of my mouth so you did interrupt”. She finished her sentence!

It was her second interruption of me and about eighth for that meeting.

She has been spoken to over and over - two years ago I said “lips moving, still talking” (a line from Friends).

Both times I was probably a bit curt but no blowback on me because EVERYONE recognises her had behaviour and it never changes. She has no self awareness at all.

In a meeting two days ago she was, as usual, having a secondary conversation so, when she rejoined the main conversation, she started talking about a topic we had moved on from. No awareness of that either!

#22 BelleJay

Posted 27 May 2019 - 11:19 AM

I sympathise OP.  I have the same problem, but its actually the owner of the business in my case!

I agree with those who have said call him out next time.  Its just plain bullying!

Edited by BelleJay, 27 May 2019 - 11:20 AM.





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