You worked hard to be where you are now. This is the job you have always dreamed about.
But you’re neither happy nor content. You know that this has to do with the job. Your boss is difficult to handle and your workplace is toxic.
Your boss is the main culprit in this saga. You are bullied, humiliated, and pulled down constantly. When your boss makes you feel incompetent and worthless, you cannot sit idle. What to do when you’re feeling incompetent?
Workplace abuse comes in many forms – mental abuse and verbal abuse are the most common among them. Creating a negative work environment and subjecting you to abuse can destroy your confidence and self-esteem. Directly or indirectly, it can cause harm to your mental health. Your physical health may also suffer as a consequence.
When you suffer harassment at the hands of your toxic boss, the first thing you may want to know is how to tackle it. When you’re feeling incompetent, can you say or do anything about it?
After all, you need to think about your financial security, future job prospects, and your reputation and credibility. Being your superior, your boss can abuse their position and cause more harm to you. Does this mean you should remain silent?
This article takes a look at the options available to you when your boss makes you feel incompetent.
5 things to do when your boss makes you feel worthless
Nobody likes to be branded as incompetent or worthless. When your boss yelled at you last week or whenever your boss makes you feel guilty for calling in sick, you feel helpless to retaliate. For one thing, you feel it is beneath your dignity to give it back the same way. And, you’re really concerned about the future of your job. You can’t afford to get fired.
But when your boss makes you feel incompetent and when the humiliation keeps piling on you, you find it hard to keep quiet about your bad boss. Talking back or yelling are not the only choices open to you to deal with a toxic boss. In fact, this tactic is not productive.
Instead, here are a few dignified responses you may consider when your boss makes you feel incompetent.
1. Make sure you got it right
Sometimes we may imagine ourselves as victims of abuse because of our own insecurities. Before you take action against someone, especially your boss, for treating you badly, you should make sure that this is indeed the case.
Try to view the episodes of abuse from a third-party perspective. If you can manage this without bias, you would be able to get the true picture of what happened between you and your boss.
Replay the scene and check it out impartially. If you still feel your boss was harassing you, you must have gotten it right in the first place. Now, you can actually think of how to handle the situation.
2. Try to ignore it
If this is happening for the first time or it is a one-off episode, you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Everyone has bad days including your boss. Or they may have more permanent issues such as anxieties and insecurities. That may come out as episodes of bullying and making you feel incompetent.
This means, when your boss says you’re incompetent, they don’t actually believe so. They’re merely projecting their own insecurities on you. This also means you shouldn’t take such remarks to heart. Don’t think too much about it or take it seriously.
Though you may find it hard to view your boss with compassion, do it for your sake. Then, you might be able to see a human being struggling under too much work pressure. If you can muster enough willpower to be kind to your boss despite being treated badly, you might be able to make them see you for who you really are – an honest, kind, and hard-working employee.
3. Talk to your boss
That doesn’t mean you should barge in at any time of your choice and discuss your problems with your boss. Set up a meeting with your boss by requesting an appointment well in advance so as not to inconvenience them.
Once you are given the audience, say your piece with dignity. Be honest and straightforward. Try to be as concise and precise as possible as time is valuable. You can tell your boss how their behavior is affecting your confidence and self-esteem. You can either attend this meeting alone or take someone you trust with you.
Having a third party can be helpful to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. They can also serve as an eyewitness to what transpired during the meeting. Remember that it would be counterproductive if you throw allegations at your boss without backing them up with proof.
You can use the format “I could see that …” or “I noticed that …” and say what you observed. It would be good if you avoid mentioning what you felt because that is always subject to interpretation. You can ask your boss to explain his action.
Your boss may respond in one of the three ways. He may accept his mistake, apologize, and offer you some sort of compensation for the hardship caused.
Or, your toxic boss may play innocent and pretend they don’t understand what you’re talking about. Your boss is in denial and isn’t ready to own up to the mistakes.
The third and final response you can expect from your boss is hard to take. It’s sure to make matters worse. Your boss may get aggressive and hurl more abuses at you. They may even try to shift the blame onto you. If your boss has an insecure attachment personality, you can expect this response.
If you’re unlucky to get the last mentioned response from your boss, there is no point discussing the situation further with them. You may have to approach someone else or decide to let go.
4. Take the issue to HR
If a direct approach is not productive, your next option is to approach Human Resources. HR often functions as a mediator between workers and management. They may be able to get you justice and figure out a solution to your workplace issue.
Again, HR is not an independent body. They work for the organization and the management. You cannot expect them to be fully impartial in their mediation. Despite this, you may get a fair hearing with HR and you can expect reasonable action.
If you can furnish proof of any kind, you can strengthen your case against your boss. So, before you approach HR, you should do some groundwork and gather evidence. Such as pictures, recordings, and witness statements.
HR may arrange a meeting between the two of you. Their solution may involve taking either of you out of your present positions and reassigning somewhere else. Or else, HR may dismiss your case as unsubstantiated. This is why gathering and presenting compelling evidence to support your claim is vital for your success.
5. Look out for another job
An overwhelming majority of employees leave their jobs because of difficult bosses. Some surveys put this figure as high as 80%. Bullying, intimidation, and lack of appreciation are some of the most common reasons cited by these studies.
If your contractual obligations permit you to leave the organization, it is better that you do. There is no point in continuing there if you aren’t feeling comfortable or happy working there. But before you submit your resignation, you better search for a new job and get one.
Try to do more background checks about the new organization, the work environment, and more importantly your future boss. Make sure that your new boss won’t repeat the same mistakes.
Final thoughts on toxic boss
What to do when your boss makes you uncomfortable?
While making sure that your boss is indeed displaying toxic behavior, you may stumble upon the fact that the trouble was with you. Maybe you are indeed incompetent. In this situation, you shouldn’t hesitate to own up to your shortcomings and learn to improve yourself.
It’s always recommended to establish a good rapport with your colleagues. In situations like this, they will rally around you and it can make a huge difference to your case against your toxic boss. Meanwhile, don’t be too hard on yourself. Practice self-care and self-love.
Whether you made a mistake or your boss, remember that we are humans and as humans, we tend to make mistakes. Accept this fact, learn from the incident, and move on.