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Toxic Bosses: How to Live with the S.O.B.

Toxic Bosses: How to Live with the S.O.B.

By Anonymous (an understandably bashful reader) for BusinessWeek

About two years ago I landed my dream job as a territory manager for a midsize technology company. I knew the sister of my prospective boss; she had been a business partner of mine for a number of years. She is a very relaxed, hardworking salesperson, and is well-known in the industry for being professional and effective. Unfortunately, the calm, effective, professional gene seemed to have skipped my friend’s sibling. I took the job, and in a short period of time, I found that I was working for the classic toxic boss.

The guy has temper tantrums, screams, uses obscenities to me on the phone, plays my colleagues off against each other, and goes into long, nonproductive tirades about customers, the industry, and members of his staff. I really love this job, except for my manager. And I’m good at it. So I didn’t quit. Instead I developed a formula for dealing with him.


No—it’s not fighting him. I box out a portion of the day to deal with my boss. I set aside 8:30-10:00 a.m. every day to cater to his needs.


I send quick e-mails throughout the day, especially during the boxing period. He feels no need to call me if he gets a barrage of status reports.


My boss likes orders to get processed immediately. So I try to process an order as soon as it arrives. If I can’t get to it right away, I send him an e-mail saying that I’m wrapped up on another project. Eight out of 10 times, he does the order processing for me.


My boss obsesses on pricing exercises. We used to sit on the phone for hours, in what is largely a subjective process, acting like we were finding the magic price. It killed my productivity. Now, I say to my boss: “I’m busy on Y. Would you mind working on the pricing proposal for me for Client X? You’re much better than I am on this kind of stuff.” Then he’s occupied for a day or so, doing what he likes to do, and he’s not slowing me down.


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My phone has a problem. When people have a temper tantrum, it loses its connection. Usually my boss calls back a few minutes later. If I decide to pick up, he says “I guess we got cut off” and proceeds, usually in a better tone. I decide when I’ll take his calls. Sometimes I don’t answer his calls for a couple of hours because I don’t want to.


My boss usually has a temper tantrum on the Monday two weeks before the end of a quarter. He invariably tells me that I’m not running my territory correctly (which used to set me off). I now schedule time in my calendar to prep for this. I even tell him that he will have this tantrum before he does, and sometimes I tell him that I agree with him. It knocks him off balance.

I’m not going to say it’s a perfect system, but we have a détente.

P.S. My boss is on vacation this week, and I am three times more productive.

Courtesy of © 2008 YellowBrix, Inc.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    My boss blames me for everything that could go wrong. I sent out a reminder two days (instead of the usual 3) before the team was to submit something to me for processing. I got blamed for not taking responsibility by explaining that they'd already been informed of the deadline the week before in an email by a member of the team. I'm new and unfamiliar with how things work and while helping him put things away, I casually asked him what I could do to help and he asked me to put something away. Without thinking, I asked him where it went. He goes into a loud and rude tirade asking, "Where have you seen it...THINK!" and embarassed a new staff person during the rant to the point she became defensive on my behalf and feels he's creating a hostile work environment.! Eek! I just want to pass probation before I express my feelings. While explaining how our personalities were different, he coined me a "people pleaser." I thought I was just flexible and friendly - since when do I require a diagnosis for being nice?

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 8 years ago


    Good for you. My former boss liked to yell and scream obsenities in the office as well as play the employees against one another. He also got off on talking about an employee behind his/her back. I was the office manager and he was constantly micromanaging and he would telll me not to do something that I knew I was suppost to. Then when push came to shove and corporate would ask for the details of what was suppost to have been done, he came and blamed me for not doing it. It is very hard to work for an SOB. I feel for you. I actually developed health problems from the stress of it. He did everything he could to get me to quit, I refused, I am not a quiter. So I stayed (health problems and all) did my job to best of my ability and got layed off with the rest of the crew. LOL in his face the SOB

  • Ginny_s_pics_007_max50


    almost 8 years ago


    No, you are not alone. I also had the Toxic Boss, but I had to leave....he was making me sick. I was at the doctors monthly. He stressed me out. I too play the game. Live is to short to play games. Live your life to the fullest. Enjoy yourself and your family. That is what truly counts.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 8 years ago


    I'm really pleased to hear that it's not just me who feels they need to manipulate their boss to be able to get to their own work. :) And also, that I'm not the only one dealing with it.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 8 years ago


    Been there, done that!

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