What to Do When Your Boss is Evil

By Gina Simmons, Ph.D.

Most baby boomers will switch jobs 10 times in their life, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Ideas about corporate loyalty and job security seem quaint and antiquated now. Today everyone is a free agent. When job competition appears steep and jobs are scarce, a bad boss can mess with your head like a Quentin Tarantino movie.

The stressful environment created by an angry intimidating boss can make you physically sick. Stress head aches, anxiety attacks, gastro-intestinal disturbances make working to your potential difficult. If you’re feeling this distress you’ve got company. Double digit increases in Worker’s Compensation stress claims threaten to bankrupt the system in many states.

In our Manage Anger Daily classes and our corporate trainings we hear from survivors about their evil superiors. Leaving out the incompetent and the merely unhinged we find three types of bosses often called “evil”:

  • Satan’s Sadistic Sidekick: This boss sails into the office late, leaves early, dropping work by the pound full onto the drooping desks of overworked employees. When one of these tired underlings dares to complain the evil one chuckles and says something like, “if you don’t like this job we can find someone else.”
  • Maddeningly Malicious Micro-manager: We can identify this demonic breed by the feel of hot breath on the back of our necks.Every piece of work product gets scrutinized and criticized ad nauseam. Sensitive workers can leave the office in tears after long lectures about trivia.
  • Bombastic Boorish Bully: This mouthy boss spits orders with excruciating hostility. Employees reflexively duck and cover to spare themselves the predictable tongue-lashing. Workers can find some consolation in knowing this bully will likely pass away early by blowing out his arteries.

When you find yourself suffering from Monday morning depression due to the pressure from one of these demonic directors try:

    1. Meditation. Many workplaces now offer mindfulness meditation classes. Meditation teaches you how to produce a feeling of serenity no matter what your outside circumstances. Both Mindfulness based meditation and Transcendental meditation have decades of research proving their effectiveness at reducing stress.
    2. Constructive confrontation. Though the thought of approaching a tormentor directly feels daunting, sometimes a bully’s armor is pierced by a straight strong request for better treatment. Try, “Don’t talk to me in such a condescending manner.” Or, “When you shout at me I do not do my best work. Please stop.”
    3. Empathy. When we think of someone as evil (irony alert!) we see them as an enemy, not worthy of our understanding or support. This strips a person of their humanity allowing us to mistreat them without guilt or remorse. Perhaps your boss has pressures at home, health difficulties, an evil boss too.

When we work toward relaxing ourselves with activities like meditation and after-work fun, the job might not seem so grueling. It helps to know that bad bosses have fears, insecurities and needs just like you. When we try to understand, feel a little of their pain, they don’t seem so diabolical. Remember the powerful Wizard of Oz was just a silly pretender.