Mendoza School of Business

Have a horrible, emotionally abusive boss? Here’s what NOT to do.

Published: October 19, 2015 / Author: Jena McGregor

Random fact: There is such a thing as National Boss Day, and it’s today. This baffling calendar milestone—recognized by Hallmark and apparently intended as a moment to show appreciation for your manager—may be the most groan-inducing, unofficial pseudo-holiday of them all. That’s especially the case for people with an abusive boss who likes to ridicule them or put them down in front of others.

But while more and more attention has been given to the effect of bad supervisors—lousy managers can make you sick, negate other company investments and even upend workers’ family relationships—there has been less focus on how employees’ response to that bad behavior helps or hurts the situation. Recent research, however, shows that your response to an insulting or belittling boss can, over time, exacerbate the situation. Or at least do little to improve it.

A forthcoming paper [by Assistant Management Professor Charlice Hurst] in the Journal of Applied Psychology surveyed nearly 250 employees in a variety of organizations over a six-month period about their bosses’ behavior and their own. The researchers found that trying to avoid bosses who had behaved poorly, as well as retaliating against their abusive acts, created a vicious cycle that was linked with subsequent mistreatment.

That’s not really too surprising. If you jab at a boss who is already treating you poorly, it makes sense that more ridicule might come your way. 

Read the entire story on the Washington Post.