The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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Bad Boss

My boss likes to be boot licked and worshiped.




































(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner:      Here is an email I received from Doreen. "I've recently been placed with a manager who favorites and accommodates those who bestow gifts and favors to him. He controls others by granting requests with a verbal declaration - '�Remember how nice I am for doing this. I could just as easily have denied you.' He expects me to flatter him and to cater to him. I have a great work ethic and I have never lowered myself to bootlicking behavior. I'm admired because I work on a merit system, and I'm good at asserting myself. I speak my own mind. I know how to pick my battles. The boss has just written me up for an inconsequential oversight." Now, I, as Dr. Kenner, am adding something like, you leave the copy machine on at night. "I apologized for it and I rectified it immediately. I do not want to perpetuate this type of a working relationship with my boss. I cannot be productive working under such a boss. I don't trust him and I feel a growing contempt and resentment toward him. I know I can't change him. How can I change my own reactions? I want to proactively and diplomatically nip this behavior in the bud and develop a relationship of professional respect. How do I negotiate this with minimal retaliatory fallout? Thank you for your input. Respectively, Doreen."


Okay, Doreen, you are absolutely correct. You sound like a dynamite, wonderful woman. I'm going to assume that's all true, that you're this wonderful woman that has a wonderful work ethic and you want the merit system, you want things fair, and you're with a boss who manipulates with power. I mean, sometimes a boss can have an out-of-sorts moment. They're just irritated with their kids at home or something and they come in and yell at you for leaving the copier on. But if the person is a decent person, you don't make it a self-esteem issue for yourself and hopefully you address it to the boss and say, "You know, it didn't feel fair the other day when you did that," and he may apologize and say, "Yeah, I know, I was having a lousy day. I apologize for that." If this is his modus operandi, that the idea of "you better remember how nice I am for doing this because I could take it away from you," that is chilling. That is telling of his character. And you don't want to appease that type of a person. However, you may not want to lose your job. But at what cost?


You don't want to become a bootlicker. What you can do is you can go up to him and just say, "I'm puzzled Joe." Let's just give him the name Joe. "I'm puzzled Joe. I just brought in three good accounts. I brought in Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Best Buy, and we're doing really well with them. I'm puzzled as to why you wrote me up for leaving the copier on last night. Help me understand you better." So you invite him to speak. If he's made a mistake, you're putting it in context, so you're bringing the justice back into the situation. By contrast, you're contrasting it to all you are doing and letting him see that it's not fair. But you're not doing it in a threatening manner. If he is devious and deceptive, he will not be happy with you putting him on the spot and that's a sign of someone who hates you because you are good. My favorite author, Ayn Rand, wrote an article, "Hatred of the good for being good." And her books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged which are best-selling books on Amazon and classics, really expose the nature of people who are good, being hurt by people who are vicious and how to stand up to them. So I recommend reading that book, if you don't know about it already. 


But you can also see if you can find a pattern in your boss' behavior. If he wants you to lick his boots, see if he does this with other people, and see if they've capitulated. Are they appeasing him? Talk with them though, because they may be appeasing him because they don't have the skills that you're looking for, that you may have already. Then, if he's un-addressable, go to the person who hired you, who put you in this spot, and say, "I'd like to address something to you that is a delicate situation. I think it's good for the company." Keep the context of you're working for a company. This man is not good to be in this company if he works by wheeling and dealing and trying to hold things over your head. You can go to someone over your boss' head - don't worry about him - but go rich with examples of your boss' behavior. So you're not just going with hearsay. Give examples and if you have any collaborating evidence from other employees, that's great too.