Post-Traumatic Boss Disorder

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Jul 23, 2012 in , , | No Comments


 You know you have it when…

  • You feel edgy at work
  • Have nightmares about being humiliated in front of coworkers
  • Dread Monday mornings
  • Experience headaches, depression, loss of focus or irritability

As you may have guessed, this isn’t a real psychological disorder, but certain employees experience these symptoms. While we all should strive for a manageable work-life balance, some workplace situations can ruin both. Here’s why and what to do about it…

In Cecil Donahue’s article Post-Traumatic Boss Disorder, GQ, he tells a tale a good number of employees can empathize with: taking the brunt of a crazy boss’s manipulative behavior. Maybe they love to see employees squirm, or enjoy having power over another human being, making life a living hell due to their horrible treatment. That type of work environment affects productivity on-the-job and home life. If that’s the case, Mr. Donahue doles out a few pieces of good advice to keep you sane (and employed):

  1. Maintain Distance-Too often, younger workers think the closer they get to the boss, the better. Not so. Mr. Donahue advises, “The only sure path to success is to achieve a masterful level of proficiency in your field–i.e., to be good at what you do.” And as far as being a brownnosing fool, forget about it. You’ll lose self-respect and the respect of your coworkers.
  2. Stand Up-Who will stand up for you if you don’t stand up for yourself? No one. Let your boss know, in a straightforward and respectful way, what they’ve done. Use “I Messages”: “I find it difficult to concentrate after being yelled at in front of coworkers. Please discuss with me, in private, what you expect, I’d be very receptive to do what you want.”
  3. Seek Help-If you’ve tried to reason with your boss and seem to be getting nowhere fast, ask the right people for help. The Campus Career Center has knowledgeable people who can hear you out and offer up solutions. Leaving a job in this economy isn’t always the best answer, working through the problem could be the best choice. Discuss with a therapist how to psychologically deal with the situation is another avenue.
  4. Last Resort-When all else fails, quitting might be the answer–especially if dealing with an abusive person. Mr. Donahue states, “You can’t change your boss, but you can sure change bosses.” Try to have another job lined up. If you work for a large company, check within first, see if other departments have openings where you could make a move. Even if the new job isn’t as well-paying, or has an unimpressive title, getting a better boss is worth the effort.


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