A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Impossible to Please Boss
Dear Sue: I am a 50 year old woman, and have worked for a county
agency for the past two years. My problem is my boss, who is the same age
as me. For some reason, she finds fault with everything I do. My job
includes typing highly-technical reports, which can be quite challenging.
I work with approximately 10 other women who do the same type of work I
do. Every day my boss calls me into her office to criticize some minor
mistake I made. She always finds fault with my work and will call my
attention to every little typing error she can find. This is hard enough
to deal with on a daily basis, but what makes it even more difficult is I
am the only employee in my office that is subjected to her daily verbal
beatings. In my last yearly review, my boss told me that I was too
sensitive and needed to "toughen up."
Recently, after the installation of a new software system in my office,
my bossís supervisor called each employee into his office to see how
everyone was adapting to the change. This was a first, and appeared to be
an opportune time to discuss the problems Iíve been experiencing with my
boss. The supervisor assured me that he was aware of my bossís
shortcomings and that I could anticipate some changes in the office. So
far, no changes have occurred, and today I was once again subjected to the
daily tongue lashing.
I really donít know how to handle my boss. I donít feel it is a good
time for me to change jobs with the economy the way it is. Should I be
more aggressive with her? If I am too aggressive, I fear I could lose my
job. I would greatly appreciate your insight and any suggestions you have
on how to handle this situation.
Sue Says: You must feel some sense of relief knowing that your
bossí supervisor is aware of your boss' shortcomings, but I realize it
doesnít help you deal with the criticism you still face. As uncomfortable
as it may be, you need to talk with your supervisor and let her know how
her criticism affects you. Because your boss thinks you are too sensitive,
you want to be careful in your approach and come from a position of
strength. Talk with her and try to determine what it is that she wants
from you and why she is so critical of you. In addition, talk again with
her supervisor and let him know how demoralizing it is to work the way you
are. Until changes are made, you may have to live with the situation as it
is, but do make sure that you are not being super sensitive, and try not
to take what your boss says too seriously.
Dear Sue: My coworkers are aware of personal problems that are
taking place in my life, and everyday without fail, the problems are
thrown in our casual conversations. I feel that this is being done
deliberately to hurt me. How should I deal with this problem?
- Plagued by problems
Sue Says: The first thing you need to do is to stop sharing your
personal problems with your coworkers. Telling everything about yourself
provides others with ammunition to be used against you. No one will ever
know your boundaries until you establish some, so work at brushing off
some of the comments you may here and deal with your coworkers directly.
They will never know the effect this has on you until you are ready to
tell them. Be honest, be up front and be discreet.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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