Toxic Bosses: How to Live with Monsters


Two years ago I left my dream job as a regional manager for a medium-sized company in the new technologies sector. I knew the sister of my future boss. She was my business partner for many years. She is a very relaxed salesperson, who does not count her hours of work and who is known in the industry as a very professional and efficient person. Unfortunately,  the gene for calm, efficiency and professionalism seems to be lacking in my friend’s brother. I accepted the job and very quickly realized that I was working for   the classic toxic boss.

The guy has a dog temper, yells   obscenities into my ears on the phone,  pits my co-workers against each other and launches into long, unproductive tirades about customers, the industry, and his staff members. I really love this job except my boss. And I’m very good at what I do. So I’m not quitting. On the other hand, I have developed a formula that allows me to deal with the situation. 

The boxing of toxic bosses

No, the idea is not to box him in the literal sense of the term. I box outside part of the day to take care of my boss. I set aside every day from 8:30 to 10 a.m. to provide for all his needs.

Short emails

I send short emails all day especially during boxing time.  He feels no desire to call me when he finds himself drowning in a flood of reports.

On Responding to His Dog’s Tantrums

My boss likes his orders to be carried out immediately. So I try to process every request as fast as I can as it comes in.    If I can’t respond immediately, I send him an e-mail informing him that I’m already busy on another project. Eight times out of ten he   has the order processed for me.

Delegate his own rat holes to him

My boss is obsessed with pricing exercises. We spend hours on the phone in largely subjective processes acting as if we were looking for the magic prize. It killed my productivity. Now I say to my boss, “I’m busy on Y, could you work on the price proposal for X?” You’re much better at this kind of task than I am.” So he’s busy all day or more doing what he likes to do, and he’s not slowing me down anymore.

Pick up the phone

My phone has a problem. When people fuss too much, he loses the connection. Usually my boss calls back. If I decide to pick up he says: “I thought we were cut off” and then continues in a much more pleasant tone. I decide when to take his calls. Sometimes I don’t answer his phone calls for the simple reason that I don’t feel like it.

Onslaught Foresight

My boss usually has a whim two weeks before the end of the term. He invariably tells me I’m not running my territory properly (which pisses me off). Now I plan his periods of bad moods in my calendar to prepare for that. I even tell him that he will have this whim before he does and sometimes I tell him that I agree with him. Which puts him out of harm’s way. I won’t say it’s a perfect system but it allows us to have a bit of relaxation.
PS: My boss is on vacation this week, I’m three times more productive.

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