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Work for a rude boss? Your work is suffering.

Categories: Career Talk, Working Women Issues


bad-boss-megaphone-yelling.jpgAt one of my past jobs I worked for someone I consider a truly toxic person. He would go out of his way to make people feel bad, embarrassed, insecure, and he would often talk about doing this intentionally. “I like to put people off-balance and see how they react,” he would say.

Once I’d made a mistake in a document we had to send out. I’d emailed him the document to review and instead of emailing me back to let me know about the mistake, he forwarded the document to our client, with the mistake in it, saying that I’d’ authored it and if they had any comments, to get back to us. When the client responded, they pointed out the mistake and my boss came into my office to tell me that he knew it was in there, but he didn’t correct it because he wanted to me to learn from the embarrassment of my mistake. (I don’t cry at the office, as a rule, but I came close that day.)

I hated having him as a boss and I was always in a state of anticipation of something nasty he would say to me. I felt it made me less productive and it definitely contributed to my negative feelings about that job. So I was glad to read this post from two workplace experts about a recent study about the negative effects of bosses’ rudeness on employee performance. Apparently the anticipation of rudeness, as well as the actual acts of rudeness, make employees less effective at what they do.

Have you worked for a rude boss? How did it affect your job performance and job satisfaction?

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9 comments so far...

  • Ah yes, I know it well! My boss is not just rude….he’s downright mean. In fact, a woman who previously worked with him told me the worst thing about him was that with every other manager/boss she had ever had, there was always a line that wasn’t crossed. This tyrant has no line…there is nothing he won’t say or do. Dangerous….not only to the state of mind of the berated employees, but makes the entire office environment a negative, uncomfortable place to work. He made me cry once in the office, and although he didn’t know it, I was furious with myself for letting him get to me. I truly believe that what goes around, comes around…I can only hope I get to see it!

    Cheryl F.  |  February 12th, 2008 at 10:19 am

  • I had that sort of boss once - thankfully, he left a couple of years ago. I hope not to have the experience again. I felt like I was walking on eggshells in the office half the time, waiting to be smacked down for some screwup I didn’t even realize I had made. And it wasn’t just me. Everyone was much more relaxed when he was out of the office.

    And speaking of smackdowns for screwups - Nataly, that stunt your ex-boss pulled was not just mean, it was irresponsible of him as a manager and made him look bad in that light, whether he realized it or not. At least you don’t have to worry about your current boss doing anything like that. :-)

    Florinda  |  February 12th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

  • Oh yes. I worked for a guy who enjoyed keeping his employees off balance. He would have you do a project, - work 16 hour days to complete it, then change his mind about what he wanted, and you had to start all over again, - and he expected you to work around the clock to complete it by deadline.
    When I worked for this man, I literally went for a week without seeing my kids. I was going to work before they got up, and not coming home from work until they were already in bed.
    This was not a few isolated incidents that my boss was like this, - it was a way of life for him. He also enjoyed embarrassing people at the weekly sales meetings. He would do it intentionally. He would do it in a “joking way”, but it was still humiliating. Thankfully I was never the target for this type of thing but I always felt so sorry for those who were. Thankfully, I still had enough dignity left to get out of that job, and for that I am thankful!

    Tina  |  February 12th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

  • Oh most definitely. He took great delight in making us squirm, talking about employees to each other, etc. He made my stomach hurt, my heart race, my eye twitch. I quit with no notice, which is not my style.

    Sister Honey Bunch  |  February 13th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

  • I can relate. I cant go into details but the contribution to productivity rings true for my situation.

    Girls Just Wanna HAve Funds  |  February 18th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

  • Hello:
    I work in the state of Florida in a distribution center of a nationally known retailer. The working conditions had being horrible. We didn’t have water to drink, no air conditioner, a tin roof not enough ventilation or fans and many times we had to work with flash lights because they didn’t want to pay electricity. We were being verbally abuse by management and many times harrassed. Many times workers were getting hurt on the job and our management (all the way up to district)were not sending people to the hospital. It is an unsafe place to work.

    With so much going on, one day I became the voice in our workplace. I spoke up and things begun to change. Today we have better working conditions. They are not the best but it is better than before and at least we have water to dringk in that very hot warehouse .
    Ufortunately, I got hurt on the job. Both my hands are injured and no longer can do the things I used to do. Workmans Comp. takes away opportunity to get better medical treatment and once you get hurt on the job our employer cuts hours and make your life a living hell so you would leave.

    When I read this article in this website I tried to understand the reasoning behind it. I asked myself why should I stay in this job as I had been for almost 6 years. In ways I can agree and also desagree.
    First I can say that if I had invested part of my life in a job and did something to make it better. On the other hand, how much abuse can we take. In my opinion, companies in the USA want to pay less, control workers, and dispose of them when they get hurt without any consideration.
    Then CEO’s take great bonuses for saving the company money and then when things go wrong and they don’t do their job well anymore, they quit and take even more money for not doing their job.

    In closing, I am now looking for a job. Can’t find one that pays enough with a set schedule I can handle and with tasks that won’t involve my hands. I am trying to get an education but that is going to take many years. Don’t have money or qualify for scholarship, limited availability and my hands aren’t as good anymore. My employer wants me to leave. Don’t want to pay unemployment.

    I don’t like my job anymore and had no where to go. No one would hire me.
    Staying is not an option. Leaving might not be the best option either.

    Can someone help me? How could I stay considering all that.

    I wish that may be I could become an advocate for workers and make a difference in another way. If anyone is reading this, give me sugestions.


    Wanda  |  February 28th, 2008 at 9:44 pm

  • The city I work hired this community director, he’s rude, talks down to you, and i keep feeling that he does this with women. Last week I asked a planner a question he was in the office, simple qestion I was translating in the front office for a man who had been sent a letter (hispanic also) that he had to many cars in his home. The ? was how many cars could he have, (Yes and this is America) a simple answer would have been fine, the man also said he had about 6 people who drove ea. with a car, all relatives. My boss, in his high rude tone asked why I asked the ?, informed him, we it was like an interigation a simple 5 cars are allowed and have him talk to the code enforcer whould have been fine. I wish you could have seen and heard his way. Co-workers walked out oftheir office to see and hear the comotion. I kept quiet, replied to the customer. I have kept it all inside,I went back to work the next day, but it was stored inside, next day I had a migrant, Friday I left early I can’t stand being in the office. I did everything I love this weekend, laughed, enjoyed my son to the fullest, my husband and my beloved dog, went in on Monday, and all my happiness washed out. In the pm he asks why are so quiet. My thought in the office has always been, I am here 8 hrs., let it go, everyday is a new day, live the present, but this time I can’t get back into it. I am angry, he is a only child got married late 40-50 lives w/mom and his wife, should I go any further. But he’s at work and this is not kindergarden
    We are professionals, why do we accept this behavior, why do we not speak out, fear I guess of loosing our jobs. Wht do we accept rudeness from another human being/equal we are…..Thanks 4-listening, Maria WA state

    maria  |  March 18th, 2008 at 8:28 am

  • My boss is condescending and is never wrong. I have worked for him for five months. Not once have I heard a nice word from him. I am beginning to think that he wants to fire me but doesn’t do it because he doesn’t want me to collect unemployment. I don’t want to quit because despite his unprofessional attitude and constant unfunny comments of me, I still enjoy what I do. I wish I had the nerve to speak up without worrying that it could cost me my job. The majority of Dentist treat their employees like second class citizens.

    Betsy  |  February 2nd, 2009 at 7:22 pm

  • I thought l was the only one that felt like this. How true but l have greater insults given to me it makes me sad when l get home because l like my job and what l do and all the other staff are great just not the 1 person,loves insulting people in font of people , makes you want to change the person to be nicer, but after 4 1/2 years it wont change. why so mean,he said grow some bxxxs , l am female. don’t be so sensitive when u a retold u are stupid, and u are not, need help, ask a 2 second question, ‘Oh what now, l have no tome for u. Yet he will talk to the male workers. On the phone can u get up here. What took so long. hurry up.

    Fed Up  |  October 7th, 2011 at 5:03 am