Today’s post is a selection from Every Day’s a Good Day: Remaining Positive in a Retail or Service Based Profession, scheduled for release February 2016.
Boundaries & Professionalism
Rude and berating bosses and managers – they’re out there. I think everyone has at least one horror story in their past of what it was like to work for a tyrant. Do we speak up? Do we voice our opinion about how that isn’t the way to treat an employee? Some do. But I venture to guess that most of us don’t have the nerve to call them on their behavior. Instead, we grumble about it, rant and rave to our friends, bite our tongue, toss down antacids and try not to pull our hair out as our stress levels ratchet up through the roof.
Or, we simply walk away. Or run.
That’s me. I reach my outer limits of what I can tolerate and simply quit.
There is another method. One way to try to work with a superior like this is to calmly set boundaries – with a professional demeanor – and let them know that you won’t tolerate being treated like this.
Now I know that some people have no problem with this. They stand up for themselves in all aspects of their life and this is just one more arena. Those people are probably reading this and scratching their heads in amazement, because they can’t understand how it is that the rest of us don’t use this.
Of course, there’s also a third group of people. Those that have no problem at all letting the boss know what they think of their obnoxious behavior and emphatically stating what they will and won’t tolerate. The employees in this third group though, while not condoning rude treatment, also don’t always respond in a courteous and professional manner themselves.
I can think of several co-workers in my past who fall in this category. I don’t really want to be like them either. I’d like to think that I can remain above the yelling and the name-calling that sometimes ensues.
A respected writer I follow posted a blog entry about a time in her early career where she had to deal with a nasty editor. She reports that she turned the situation around, and eventually had a good relationship with that editor by keeping it professional and drawing boundaries.
She tells how he made it clear – in a very loud voice – that he was not happy with the quality of the piece she turned it. After he threw his little tantrum, she calmly told him that it wasn’t alright for him to yell at her and she wasn’t going to tolerate it. She says that she told him she would treat him with respect and expected the same behavior from him.
At first there was silence she says, and then he said ‘ok’.
She then proceeded to question why he thought the work was substandard, asked what she needed to do to fix this piece and turn in higher quality pieces in the future.
It turns out that there was an item she’d missed. But now she knew what she needed to do…and found out by replying civilly to the beast.
She recommends that if you’re dealing with a volatile boss to not give up hope, stay calm, don’t run and draw boundaries, while keeping it professional.
Is your boss or manager someone explosive like that? Have they forgotten how to treat employees with respect? Do you go home at night with a curdled stomach from having this abuse heaped on you?
Try this out. Ask for a meeting with them. Try to talk this out in a businesslike manner and set some boundaries, letting them know that you won’t tolerate their continued abusive treatment. But don’t stoop to their level. Maintain a courteous demeanor.
You may just walk out of work tonight with your head held higher. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve it!