You’ve Awakened the Wrath of the Office Bully. Now What?

Question:

On my first day at my company, the co-worker I was hired to replace said, “Whatever you do, don’t make Bart mad.”

“So, what will he do?” I asked, thinking she was teasing me.

“You don’t want to find out,” she said.

I soon learned. Bart and I crossed paths because I needed IT support and foolishly thought I’d get it. So when I didn’t get a response to my first SEVEN politely worded request emails, I merged them into a batch and sent them to our executive director asking, “What’s protocol for getting IT help? Or, can I contract for it with an external professional? I know someone who could take care of this and come this afternoon.”

She forwarded my emails to Bart. Bart stormed into my office within the hour, tore my computer apart, accused me of spilling Coke on the keyboard (I don’t drink Coke but Bart does) and left the empty parts strewn across my desk. He then took a week securing a “new” refurbished computer for my work station and put it together, along with a sticky keyboard. I got the message. I cleaned it myself.

I’ve never dealt with someone like Bart. When I complained to our executive director, she told me that Bart does “brilliant” work maintaining our company’s server and equipment on a shoestring budget and works “cheap.” Since we’re a nonprofit and chronically strapped for cash, I get the point. I’ve asked two of my co-workers how to deal with this. Both said, “Don’t bother him. He gets to everything in his own time. Learn patience.” I don’t know if I’m more bothered by how Bart acts, or by how everyone else tiptoes around him. Help?

Answer:

When you start working in a new company and run afoul of unwritten rules, look first to your own behavior and clean up your mistakes. Never launch battle via email, which you did, twice. Sure, your executive director shouldn’t have forwarded your email to Bart, but instead talked first with you and then with Bart to positively resolve the situation. However, you need to learn not to send an email you don’t want forwarded. Also, if you sent a new co-worker two emails asking for help and haven’t received a response, stop by their office. Your next five emails only push someone’s buttons.

Next, co-workers often react in the way you’ve described to a bully type I’ve named the “wounded rhino” when outlining seven bully types in “Beating the Workplace Bully.” Wounded rhinos are slow-moving and ill-tempered when disturbed. Rile them and they gallop forward at high speed and gore you. Because they’re authoritarian and malevolent, other jungle animals avoid them.

Unfortunately, avoidance never works, and if you’ve described your new agency accurately, Bart rules through intimidation. Your executive director allows this because she fears she couldn’t replace him with someone as talented who’d willingly work for the salary your agency can afford to pay. Everyone else backs down because Bart fiercely retaliates against those who cross him.

Take a lesson from the Nile crocodile, who successfully “takes out” rhinos by slowly approaching them, while taking care to avoid detection by staying below the water’s surface. When within striking range, the crocodile leaps up and grabs the rhino’s head.

The good news — unless you’re the problem, everyone knows Bart’s downsides; they simply work around them. The better news — given the problematic job market, you and your executive director may be able to find an equally talented IT professional who’s mission-oriented enough to work for the salary your agency can pay. Find such a person, and Bart no longer holds your agency hostage through his talent, but can be given a clear-cut “cut it out, and if you can’t or won’t, it’s time to part ways.”

If you clean up your part in this drama, and if strategy fails, you may want to reconsider continuing at this agency. When an organization allows a bully to run rampant, everyone suffers.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as Regional Director of Training and Business Consulting for The Growth Company, an Avitus Group Company. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

My boss is a bully and he wants me gone

Question:

I’m scared I’m going to lose my job. My coworkers and I work for a bully boss. He insults us constantly. When he’s upset, he yells things like “who’s going to pay for this!” and we all put our heads down and hope we’re not the one he picks on. After weeks in which I went home in tears nightly, I went to Human Resources to get help.

The HR officer listened and I thought she’d help. Instead, she told my boss everything I’d said. Isn’t HR supposed to keep confidential what we tell them?

Now my boss is out to get rid of me. Twice in the last week my boss has written me up for minor infractions. Neither write-up was fair but I don’t have the documentation to disprove I didn’t make the errors. What also burns me is that others do the exact same thing he accused me of, so why did I get written up? I’m being singled out — isn’t that against the law?

What do I do?

Answer:

Once you land in a bully’s sights, you’re often on your own.

Some HR officers keep what employees targeted by bullying say confidential. Some pull the bully manager aside and arrange for his coaching or discipline. Some give targeted employees coaching. And some HR officers do what yours did, and tell your manager your concerns, potentially thinking the manager will hear them and improve. Unfortunately, if your manager is a true bully, he’ll retaliate.

The laws that safeguard you help you if you and the problem situation fall into certain categories. The federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and its state and local counterparts protect employees being discriminated against because of their age, sex, race, national origin, or other protected categories. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Commission and its state counterparts enforce workplace health and safety laws and protected those targeted because they protested safety violations. The federal Department of Labor and its state counterparts enforce minimum wage and overtime laws. The federal National Labor Relations Board and its state counterparts enforce laws protecting an employee’s rights to collectively bargaining laws or act in concert with their fellow employees. In some cases, employee policies or collective bargaining agreements cover bullying, possibly creating contractual protection. Finally, if you work in a state in which Courts enforce the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, you can allege unfair treatment and sue.

I wrote Beating the Workplace Bully to provide employees targeted by bullying strategies. Here are several. Don’t let a bully create an outpost in your mind. When he shouts insults, they say a lot about him, but little about you. Mentally detox yourself nightly by leaving the bully at work and not letting your situation encroach into your evening. Document exactly what’s happening, so if your boss makes up unfair allegations, he’ll lose if he fires you and you sue for wrongful discharge. And never, ever, let your boss know he’s getting to you. Like sharks, bullies go after blood.

I’ll also say that bullying saps your emotional and mental energy until you’re flattened. If you’re crying nightly, that may be close and your best option may be to vote with your feet. Never let a bully win and sometimes that means you have to leave if you work for a company that allows bullies to romp over employees.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com.

How to stop workplace bullying in the new year

The first time Andy barked at Annette, she raised an eyebrow and asked, “Bad day? Would you prefer I come back later?”

“Let’s do it,” he snarled. “You people push for this and push for that. You think you’re the only people who count. What’s this damn email you sent all about?”

Annette got up and left his office.

Andy sent her a stormy email, which she forwarded to their supervisor and human resources. The next day, a chastened Andy responded with the information Annette had requested.

By contrast, Annette’s predecessor, Suzanne, stayed put despite Andy’s tirades — even when he called her a bitch. Convinced she needed Andy’s information to complete her report, Suzanne endured meetings in which a red-faced Andy screamed in her face. When Suzanne finally quit, others asked why she had put up with it for so long.

Suzanne answered, “I kept thinking it would get better.”

Like Suzanne, you may have tried to ignore a workplace bully, hoping things would get better on their own. You may have believed that if you acted professionally and politely, your workplace bully would leave you alone or act nicely in return.

That ignores the truth about bullying.

Bullies perceive niceness and avoidance as weakness and an invitation to take advantage. Those who don’t stand up to a bully’s initial attack signal that they’re easy prey. The situation then spirals out of control, with the bully escalating how he puts you in your place.

Bullies bully because it produces results. If you don’t want to be trampled, you have to become someone who can and will stand up to– and outmaneuver– bullies.

How do you grow smart and tough enough to take on the bullies in your work life? You start from where you are, and grow the skills you need. When a bully confronts you, consider how a brave person would handle the bully or situation, and become that brave person. Unless it compromises your physical safety, be willing to exit your comfort zone. When you step forward, you’re not fragile, passive or powerless. You’re not just letting events happen to you and silently allowing bullies to walk all over you. You’re standing up for yourself.

Do bullies target you because you let them? Don’t pass the test that you should fail.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com

Bullied in Your Work or Personal Life? Don’t Make These 4 Common Mistakes

Are you being bullied at work, or at home? If so, you’ve probably learned that those who bully hope their targets make mistakes, because then the bully can seize the upper hand.

Here are four of the biggest mistakes you’ll want to avoid.

Letting it go too long
It’s tempting to try to ignore the problem when a coworker or family member first bullies you. That “let it go” strategy often proves necessary and effective when the customer bullies you at work – because the customer leaves. Or, you may choose to let someone in your personal life with whom you have little contact bully you during an annual Christmas party.

When you’re in a work or other long-term relationship, however, ignoring bullying or hoping the bully or situation improves on its own rarely works. Instead, it signals you’re easy prey.

Bullies test to see who they can bully. Fail that test, and they’ll move on, because you’re not an easy mark.

Blaming yourself
We tend to blame ourselves when things go wrong. If we’ve made a mistake, owning our accountability works, because then we can fix the situation.

If you’re bullied, however, it’s not on you. No one deserves bullying. Wondering “am I somehow to blame?” or “did I provoke that barrage of insults” makes you accountable for the bully’s bad behavior.

Their bullying isn’t your fault, though it may be your problem to fix.

Expecting someone else to step in
Those targeted by bullying often expect their supervisor or others in their work life or family to step. After all, can’t these others see what’s happening?

But others don’t always see the problem. Many bullies show a charming facade to others, particularly to those from whom they might gain benefit or see as an extension of themselves. This explains why a husband can bully his wife but remain a doting father to his children.

Those who witness bullying may also run for cover, fearing if they intervene the bully may turn on them. After all, they think, it’s not my fight.

If you’re a bully’s target, it may up to you to outsmart the bully.

Stooping to the bully’s level
The bully’s aggression may tempt you to react angrily. Don’t. If you do so, you might look like the person with the problem.

Further, the bully has more experience fighting dirty than you do. There’s an old saying, “Never get into the mud with the pig. The pig knows mud.”

Instead, step back and assess the situation. What’s the right strategy? You can outsmart a bully if you act and don’t react.

Finally, if you’re now being bullied, you may wonder if you can prevail. You absolutely can. Bullying is a two-way interaction, requiring a bully and a target. Outsmart the bully, and you’ll witness a failed bullying attempt.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at www.bullywhisperer.com

8 Things Never to Say to a Bully

Bullies watch you for tells to see if you’ll be an easy target. They hope you’ll make a mistake so they can take advantage. Over the years, I’ve taught hundreds of targets and almost targets to outsmart bullies. Here’s a quick list of eight comments never to make to a bully – and why.

“It hurts my feelings when you…” or “I feel upset when you….”
We’ve all learned to take responsibility with “I” statements for our feeling and to negotiate to a win/win when we deal with others. Bullies, however, operate differently. They seek a winner (them) and a loser (you). “I” statements and statements taking responsibility for your feelings don’t work with bullies because they don’t care. Worse, statements like the ones above show the bully that they’re getting to you. That’s music to their ears.

“I just want us to get along with each other” and “I want you to be happy”
To you these statements signal “let’s work this out. They’re peace-maker statements that show your good intent. To the bully they flag “I’ll do anything to make you happy. I’ll accommodate to you, perhaps even past the point of no return.”

“Don’t tell me what to do” and “Leave me alone!”
When a bully pushes your buttons, it’s easy to react. You might think “going toe to toe” works. It doesn’t. Your angry reaction signals to the bully that they’ve gotten to you and now have the upper hand. Worse, reactive statements make you look like you’re the bad guy or at least a significant part of the problem to an outside observer, like your boss. If you sense your button being pushed, take a deep breath and say, “That kind of button pushing doesn’t work with me.”

“I’m sorry”
Apologies work well with everyone except a bully. To a bully, they signal that you’re pleading, and thus have given away your power. If you’ve truly made a mistake, instead say “I take responsibility for my actions,” a more assertive statement.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
You may be right; however, this statement leads you straight into an argument in which the bully can tie you in knots, while you sound defensive both to the bully and anyone listening.

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions

Workplace bullying may be bad, but it’s not illegal, right? Not so fast …

Can bullies in Alaska workplaces hide behind the fact that there’s no state law against bullying? According to contemporary thought, bullying isn’t illegal unless you work in California (which has a Workplace Violence Safety Act), Utah (with a Healthy Workplace Bill) or at a public agency in Tennessee (which has a Healthy Workplace Act protecting those who work in state and municipal agencies).

As a result, many believe bullies have virtual immunity and that those bullied have little protection unless those who bully them cross a line through criminal assault or by attacking their targets in legally protected areas, such as discrimination against age, race or sex or in the exercise of protected rights such as safety.

Perhaps, however, the tide has turned.

On Aug. 9, a Dallas jury awarded a nurse $348,889 against the physician who bullied her — along with a $1.08 million verdict against the physician and his medical practice for sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation (Patricia Hahn v. Scott Davidson, MD, et al).

At trial, Hahn described a hostile, threatening work environment. She testified that physician Davidson screamed, “Just shut up, I’m sick of you” at her with clenched fists and raised hands, and that he threatened her with air punches.

The nurse told the jury how she’d sought help from her organization by filing a complaint with the practice’s human resources manager. After that, the physician called her into his office after business hours to prove he hadn’t screamed by demonstrating to her and an office manager what screaming was.

When Hahn then protested to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the practice fired her. Left with no workplace recourse, the nurse filed a lawsuit alleging assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation. Hours before the jury announced its verdict, the clinic settled with Hahn, paying her $440,000.

This jury, with their verdict, offers hope to other victims. And that’s what it may take for workplace bullying to end — targets suing bullies and putting their stories in front of juries.

But what happens if the situation isn’t clear-cut — if the bully hasn’t violated a specific law?

“Employers have a duty to protect employees,” says attorney-turned-HR-consultant Rick Birdsall. “If they fail to control the workplace, they potentially breach their duty, leading to possible intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress tort claims.”

Birdsall explains that in the Hahn case, the jury perhaps translated intentional infliction of emotional distress in an effective “legal label” for bullying. Also, says Birdsall, “in the same way that employers have vicarious liability for failing to address sexual harassment when they ‘knew or should have known,’ I predict the law is moving in this direction with bullying. Now that the courts have clearly established employers have a duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, it may not be long before the courts view employers as having a similar obligation to protect employees from bullying.”

Can juries, judges or courts truly help those targeted by bullies? Perhaps.

“The law is an evolving institution,” says attorney Russ Nogg. “Changing circumstances may sway the courts who then decide bullies need to mend their ways.”

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions

Bullying at work is just as toxic as in the school yard

After Anne landed what she thought was a dream job, she quickly bonded with a charismatic co-worker, Karla. When Karla poured wine liberally at an informal dinner at her house and said, “Tell me all about you,” Anne did.

Others snickered as Anne walked into the breakroom the next day. That night, when she logged on to Facebook, she saw her co-workers had posted wildly exaggerated stories about her based on what she’d revealed to Karla. About 36,890 million of us will face workplace bullying. Another 28,709 of us witness it. It’s when we go home feeling like we’ve been manipulated, intimidated or trampled.

Bullying, defined as psychological violence in the form of verbal bullying (ridiculing, insulting, name-calling or slandering), physical bullying (pushing, shoving, kicking or tripping), or situational bullying (sabotage or deliberate humiliation), wounds you whether you’re the target or a witness.

If you’re a bully’s target, you’ll want to identify how you landed in the bully’s sights as well as identify the most common bully traps so you can evade them. These include denying what’s going on, expecting the bully to change, stooping to the bully’s level and letting the bully isolate you.

It’s helpful to know what kind of bully you’re dealing with. There’s the Aggressive Jerk, like Bernard, who stomps through the workplace threatening “blood in the water” as he ridicules and insults those in his way. There’s the harder-to-identify Shape-shifter, a workplace Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde who cons the boss into thinking he is the victim, even while sabotaging other employees. If you’ve run across the Scorched Earth Fighter, you’ve learned it’s not enough for him to win — he wants you to lose.

Each bully takes a different strategy to defeat. For example, the Narcissist bully, who expects the world to revolve around him, can’t take criticism. If you out this bully to senior management, his vicious counter-attack may prove his undoing.

I’m interested in teaching those targeted by bullying how to center themselves so that bullies can’t foot-sweep them into reacting, how to confront mental manipulation, and best of all, how to turn the tables on bullies. Bullies aggress, but they operate according to a risk/benefit ratio. Up the negative consequences against the bully and you witness a failed bullying attempt and a rapid retreat.

My favorite strategy: Question the bully when he slams you with a verbal insult in front of others. Here’s how it works. The bully says, “Didn’t you get any sleep? You really look like a dog today.” And you ask, “What breed?” The bully is surprised and the others will laugh with and not at you.

Or, go for a subtle knockout punch. The bully points to a project you’ve labored on and says, “This is a pile of crap.” You respond, “Pardon me?” and the bully asks, “What, you have a problem with your hearing?” You calmly say, “No.” Game over.

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions

3 Bully Tricks And How You Can Evade Them

Has a bully played a trick on you? Did you know how to respond?

Bullies play tricks and wield weapons so they can dominate and win. If you’ve been on the wrong end of their blame/shame, insult barrage, or public humiliation games, you know how conniving a bully can be.

The good news? – When you know the bully’s three favorite tricks, you can defeat them and claim victory.

Trick #1: The blame/shame game
Bullies accuse you of their sins. Why does a bully explode in rage? – According to the bully, you made them do so by screwing up or challenging them. A bully trashes you to your boss or in front of others? How come? “It was your fault,” says the bully.

Bullies excel in projecting their shortcomings on their targets. If you’re the target, the bully may even lead to wonder what you’ve done. Don’t. No one deserves bullying. If you let a bully convince you that you’re the problem, you allow the bully off the hook. Instead, learn to view the bully’s blame/shame game as projectile bully vomit. Let it rest at the feet of your bully.

Trick #2: The insult barrage game
Bully’s attack with a barrage of caustic comments, chipping away at your and other targets’ confidence. Even if you initially deflect the first insult, enough insults can twist you in emotional and mental knots. Soon, you’re exhausted, increasingly less prepared to handle the next onslaught.

Learn to greet a bully’s attacks with a game face and then douse them with reality or a prepared arsenal of flattening antidote statements. Creating a game face becomes critical because your facial reaction, whether you turn white or blush, and your stammering or flustered look, reward the bully. A look as if you can’t believe the bully would have said something so stupid denies the bully their desired outcome.

So you don’t need to think on the spot, pulling from your tool kit of prepared statements such as “Pardon me?” “Give it a rest,” and “Is that the best you can come up with?” that tell their tricks have no traction with you.

Trick #3: Trapping you through public humiliation
Bullies know they can humiliate you and other targets by publically accosting you. Don’t let the pressure of watching eyes freeze you into immobility or foot-sweep you into reacting.

Instead, realize you can turn the situation on your bully, allowing those watching to witness a failed bullying attempt or at the least to see the bully for who and what he is. Train yourself to ask “is that the best you can do?” or “does it make you feel good to try to make me feel bad?” when a bully accosts you in public. While others look on in surprise, you’ll see your bully scramble to retake control.

Has a bully played a trick on you? Don’t play the bully’s game or play by the bully’s rules and you can claim victory.

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions

You can change a workplace bully, and here’s how

Question:

I’m the newly hired human resources director for an Alaska Native corporation and faced with a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution.

I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues in all our subsidiaries. Our most successful subsidiary is managed by a bully who runs roughshod over his employees. I won’t be popular if I argue for him to be fired but if I keep my mouth shut, I turn a blind eye to what he’s doing.

Here’s what I want to know. Can bullies change their ways?

Answer:

Some say bullies can’t change. That’s not true. Bullies can change — though often they won’t.

Bullies can turn on or off bullying behavior. In many organizations, bullies kiss up and kick down, presenting a charming, often subservient facade to senior managers and displaying attacking or intimidating behavior toward peers. In some marriages, a bully abuses his spouse, yet treats his children well.

Bullies don’t bully those who gratify their egos, who can give them something they want or help them succeed or those who are extensions of the bully, such as their children. In other words, bullies choose who and when to bully.

You can’t, however, expect a bully to change his ways of his own volition. What bullies do works for them, though not for others. In fact, if you wait for a bully to change, you’ve given up all power to the bully.

Instead, if you learn how bullies make choices, you can act to change the bully’s behavior. Bullies operate according to a risk/benefit ratio. If you can convince a bully they risk more than they win by bullying, they may choose to stop — or leave for a more bully-friendly environment. Senior management thus has the power to convince a bully to change when they say, “We value you as a hard-charging manager, but we won’t let you keep stomping on our code of conduct.”

By making a business case that bullies actually reduce bottom-line productivity and create higher turnover, HR professionals can convince an organization’s leaders to step in. This isn’t easy. Although bullies damage morale and productivity in the long run, many bullies produce great short-term results. This leads some senior executives to embrace bullies as hard-charging, bottom line-oriented taskmasters, claiming, “Say what you will, they get results.”

In the past several years, I’ve assisted three organizations to address highly placed bullies who produced great results — on the surface. In all three instances, the organization’s chief executive officer contacted me because of “confusing” information received from the organization’s human resources officer or other trusted professionals.

In two cases, I used a 360-degree review to document the collateral damage the bully wreaked. A 360 review surveys seven to 11 individuals about a manager or professional and asks questions such as, “How would you describe this individual as a leader?” and, “What can you tell me about how this individual handles conflict and those with beliefs other than his own?” In both cases, the neutrally compiled responses stunned the CEO. In the third instance, a CEO and attorney contacted me after 13 women in an organization signed a petition documenting his actions, which crossed the line into sexual discrimination and harassment.

In all three cases, the CEO asked me to work with their Darth Vader and send them back a kinder, gentler Darth. Each bully, presented with incontrovertible feedback, realized he had only one option: change. All did.

Here’s what I learned. None of these bullies initially believed they needed to change nor knew how to change. Each had learned in childhood how to push others’ emotional hot buttons, with fear, guilt and intimidation, until their targets gave them what they desired. They didn’t know non-bullying strategies to get what they want. When presented with proof that they needed to make a 180-degree change and learn new skills, they stopped bullying.

Can bullies change? You have only to look at the evidence of bullies you know who kiss up and kick down to realize that bullies choose who and when to bully. If you want them to change, give them an ultimatum.

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions

Can I stick it out, despite having a bully boss?

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Question:

Soon after I started a job as an HR generalist, my new peers came to me saying, “I don’t envy you, your boss is evil.” During my hiring interview, this boss had told me, “Your predecessor loved her job, but quit suddenly for personal reasons.” I soon learned he’d lied, that my predecessor had cried in the bathroom on a daily basis before she quit. Unfortunately, this evil boss is the director of HR and the person in charge of any complaints an employee has with a manager. He’s also the CEO’s golfing buddy.

Our organization has huge turnover. Four employees left during my first two weeks of employment. Not believing my new boss was evil, and wanting to help my new employer, I said I’d love to start a retention program. My boss told me to do the work I’d been assigned before I started trying to remake the company. He told the CEO I was “judging” the management team.

My boss tells me my job is to replicate the practices my predecessor followed. The files, however, are in a mess and my predecessor doesn’t return my calls. I’ve asked my boss for examples of what he wants to see, and he’s told me I need to look in the files and figure things out for myself.

I’d like to make this work. What are my best options?

Answer:

Because your background is in human resources, you’re used to solving problems in a positive way. Unfortunately, not every problem has a positive solution.

Here’s what you’ve told me: Your peers describe your boss as evil and he appears to have lied to you, unless your predecessor showed one face to your boss and another to others. Your boss has already thrown you under the bus to his golfing buddy, the CEO, and let you know you’re on your own in handling your job duties.

It’s not completely unusual for a supervisor to ask a new employee to figure things out by looking in the files or to ask the employee to perform assigned work prior to making substantive changes. The way in which your boss interacts, however, demonstrates a “show no mercy” style that doesn’t bode well for your future job satisfaction. Further, he’s acted quickly to cut off any access route you might have had to the CEO.

My suggestion: Don’t look for a silver bullet. Sometimes the best options narrow to one: you realizing you’re in a no-win position and leaving before you’re the one crying in the bathroom. Worse, those in HR make many ethical decisions and if you continue working for an “evil” boss who oversees all your company’s human resources function, you may be asked to compromise what you know to be right for expediency.

If you choose to stay, forewarned is forearmed. As an HR professional, you know the risks you take by staying, yet may choose to remain in your job for many reasons, including that you want to make things better for your peers and this organization’s other employees.

And, you can. In HR, you learn to document, and individuals such as your boss, who think they hold all the cards, don’t. Years of work in consulting has taught me that those who consider themselves invulnerable inside their organizations often forget they don’t rule the outside world. What led those “others” to describe your boss as evil? Why did your predecessor cry daily in the bathroom? Has your boss retaliated against individuals who blew the whistle on bad ethical practices? Does he discriminate against individuals in legally protected categories?

While I rarely suggest that individuals play detective, if your boss truly is evil, you may be the one person who can help your peers and co-workers before or as you leave. In my book, “Beating the Workplace Bully,” I told the story of Mavis, who asked her bully boss, “Do you watch Anderson Cooper’s ‘The Ridiculist?’” He then asked, “What’s that have to do with your job?” and she answered, “I’ve accepted another job.” When her boss told her not to let the door hit her on her way out, she gave him a parting gift, a DVD. When he asked “what’s this?” she said it was a video of some of his rants that she planned to send to Cooper to air on “The Ridiculist” unless her boss stopped bullying her former peers and co-workers.

Do you have options? Of course. We all do.

© 2016, Lynne Curry, author of Beating the Workplace Bully & Solutions