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How to manage a bullying boss

From playground to boardroom, bullies seem to find their way into positions of power. But how do you handle a bully boss?
A recent report about the journey of children into adulthood found that the play ground bully became a bully in the board room. Perhaps it is not surprising that a child who is a bully becomes an adult who is a bully. However the researchers expressed surprise that bullies appeared to prosper earning high salaries and gaining senior posts. I confess I was surprised that the researchers were surprised by their findings.
I assumed most people have at some point come across a bully boss at work! We know organisations sometime mistake aggressive, intimidating, belittling even volatile behaviour for the competitive, passionate,  assertive and demanding behaviour of serial winners.  That being the case other than encouraging organisations not to promote bullies what most of us would find useful is how best to deal with a bully, especially one  who is our boss.
If you watch any coming of age movies set in US High Schools you will know that bullying is a feature of student life. To over come this our hero has to lean marshal arts and at some point fight and defeat the bully. Dealing with bullies in adult life similarly seems to involve meeting violence with violence. The message to bullies is be careful who you try and bully. Our hero will be reluctant to fight but if they have to they are capable of extreme violence. This is the stand up for yourself and fight back approach.
Clearly karate chopping your overbearing and undermining boss is not the solution. Nor in my experience is reporting your boss  to their boss as this  is rarely without repercussions. Likewise reporting a management bully to HR may make them more careful but is unlikely to change their view of you as some one who can be intimidated. What you need to know is how to manage them until you’re ready to leave.
Different tactics work for different people but here are some ways of out manoeuvring the bully boss.
Form allies so you can call on a lot of people for support. Bullies try to isolate people instead isolate the bully.
Make yourself indispensable – “you need me so treat me better.”
Avoid one to one situations. Latterly our monthly one to one sessions became one long rant. He always got his PA to put meeting dates in his diary in pencil because meetings were regularly rescheduled if someone or thing more important turned up. And everything had become more important than me. I simply rubbed out the dates when his PA was at lunch. A short term solution but effective.
Confront and bamboozle unreasonable behaviour.  Are you checking up on  me?”Overload them with info on what you are doing. The monthly one to one was an opportunity for the boss to be overly critical of one person’s work until she filled the whole hour with detailed updates leaving no time for , “discussions”.
Unreasonable demands – appear cooperative,”Is this a priority? Ok, no problem but what do you want me to drop in order to have the time and space to give this my undivided attention as a top priority? “
Overly critical – get your positive feedback elsewhere.
Claims credit for your work – make sure others know who has really done the work.
Be calm in face of provocation – if they are raising their voice and shouting there is nothing more frustrating than a calm reasoned response.
My bullying boss on one occasion got so frustrated that he stormed out of the  office, only thing is it was his office!

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