How To Cope With a Bad Boss

It’s been said that you should never walk away from a bad boss without learning something valuable. However, that’s not much help if you’re stressed to the eyeballs and dealing with a workplace psycho who makes Kevin Spacey’s heinous character in Horrible Bosses look like Mother Teresa. Hell, I often like to joke that some of the tyrants I’ve previously worked for at a media giant helped prepare me for the rigours of motherhood, and thereby coping with two demanding littlies under three.

But workplace bullying is a huge, ongoing problem in Australia; a bad boss can crush your productivity, self-esteem and soul, if you let them. In fact, three out of four people report that their boss is the most stressful part of their job, says leading positive psychologist Michelle McQuaid. In addition, she believes a bad boss is the no.1 reason women quit their jobs.

McQuaid, who penned the aptly titled 5 Reasons To Tell Your Boss To Go F*** Themselves, based on her own real-life experience, is a foremost expert on the topic, providing personal, workplace and schools coaching and mentoring via www.michellemcquaid.com. In her book, McQuaid counsels readers on how to deal with problem bosses of various types and how to assess when it’s time to act.

Using case studies, the psychologist/author provides practical tips on how to fight back, rebuild your confidence and disarm even the most difficult boss, be they the bullying, passive-aggressive, narcissistic, or authoritarian type. “Studies find left unchecked, a bad boss can undermine our performance, damage our health, destroy our relationships and leave us feeling depressed and anxious,” Ms McQuaid says.

“In my experience, a badly behaving boss is the gift you never ask for. You wouldn’t volunteer to work for this person, but it can offer an incredible lesson in how to manage our own fears and boost our resiliency in the face of challenging relationships. I’ve also discovered that when we don’t accept the gift and deal with it, there’s a tendency for it to follow us to the next job!”

What’s more, she says, your boss might not even be aware of their bad behaviour. It goes without saying though, that if your boss is being physically or emotionally abusive then you should immediately abort! Seek help and get out fast, sister.

Image via eonline.com

July 24, 2014

Bully bosses bad for your health

Bully bosses could be sending the blood pressure of staff members soaring,

increasing their risk of heart attack or stroke, according to new British

research.The release of the UK study coincides with new local research carried out by

Health Works that shows workplace bullying in Australia is resulting in sick days, severe stress and even panic attacks. Go to the end of this story for a link to a guide to standing up to the bully boss.

The UK research was carried out by doctors from the Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and involved a group of 28 female nursing assistants.

The test group, who all worked in British hospitals, volunteered to have their blood pressure monitored every 30 minutes to see what happened when they were in the presence of a supervisor they deemed “unfair or unreasonable”.

Thirteen nurses worked with two supervisors – one they liked, the other they disliked.

The other 15 nurses formed a comparison group where they worked with either a supervisor or supervisors they liked or disliked – not a mixture of the two. The comparision group registered only a tiny difference of three millimetres of mercury (Hg) in their systolic pressure, and no difference in diastolic pressure when working with a boss.

In contrast, the other group showed huge differences. While working with “Ms Nasty” nurses experienced a 15mm Hg difference in their systolic blood pressure and a 7mm Hg difference in diastolic pressure from normal. Previous research shows that a rise of 10mm Hg in systolic and 5mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure can lead to a 16 per cent increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 38 per cent increased risk of stroke.

In contrast, when the same group worked with “Ms Nice” their blood pressure dropped slightly.

June 24, 2003

Bully bosses bad for your health (contd)

The Australian Health Works research involved interviews with more than 325 occupational health and safety (OH&S) experts working in companies around the country. A massive 85% reported incidents of bullying in their place of work.Health Works CEO Ken Buckley said people who were bullied in the workplace could suffer a range of associated health problems such as severe stress, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, depression, concentration difficulties and raised blood pressure.Indeed, 56% of OH&S experts taking part in the Health Works study reported staff taking sick leave as a direct result of being bullied. Mr Buckley estimates that up to half of all Australian workers will experience some type of bullying in their working lives. However, only 47% of the companies employing the OH&S experts surveyed had a written anti-bullying policy.

The most common methods employed by bullies according to those surveyed include:

Intimidation (60%), Humiliation (48%), Ridicule (42%), Insults (39%),Offensive language (24%), Degrading someone (24%).

Other forms of bullying reported included stand over tactics, gossiping, being left out of events or excluded from luncheons and having leave requests refused.

Mr Buckley said combating bullying requires clear communication and decisive

steps. He recommends:

    • Approaching the bully and asking them to stop.
    • Keep a diary of events. Record the incidents in as much detail as possible and include the names and addresses of people willing to support your claim as bullying can often be difficult to prove.
    • If approaching the bully fails, report the behaviour to management or human resources. Hopefully your employer has a written policy on bullying.
    • You might also consider reporting the incident/s to a union representative to check your legal entitlements. If you don’t have a union rep, contact the Department of Industrial Relations or Law Society in your state or territory.


Health Works publish a booklet, Communication at Work, that covers effective communicate with colleagues, how to resolve conflict in the workplace and how to handle a bully. You can access the booklet by visiting the Health Works web site using the link above.Having trouble with an overbearing boss? Read How up to stand up to the

bully boss.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to www.careerone.com.au for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing: editor@careerone.com.au

June 24, 2003