Relationship Advice

A Plan

bossy woman

I've been in a job that is wrecking my happiness, but I am afraid to trust my perspective in case I am missing something. I fear leaving, lest it turn out to be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Also, pay here is a little higher than similar jobs I've seen lately.

My boss, the head of the whole organization, used to be self-employed. Until a year ago she never worked for a company before, let alone held a position at the top. Suddenly, through some people she knows from volunteering on the same board of directors, she was recruited for this head-honcho job and installed at the top.

I consider myself a monk-like person and spend my free time in spiritual pursuits and trying to be psychologically healthy. I felt my job was to support this boss as she dealt with huge new responsibilities. I felt my calmness and support was a great thing to offer her. I also have valuable skills and am a good worker.

Over the past year my optimism and confidence have eroded drastically. This boss seemed wonderful and constructive for the first six months, with a respectful attitude toward her staff and a healthy ability to look for advice and admit when she was wrong. I felt my reality and hers were on the same page.

But somewhere after those first six months, she became abusive. She lashes out, blames others, and makes up lies instead of taking responsibility for her own mistakes. This resulted in staff members quitting or being let go once she built a case against them for "too many mistakes." It gives me knots in my stomach, although I try to rebalance myself through prayer and affirmations on the way home.

One day she will call me sweetheart and thank me profusely for all I do. The next day she will speak through clenched teeth and insist she told me to do something one way when I know she told me to do it another. Sometimes it seems she is trying to push her employees until someone fights back, although we don't. She holds the thread that connects us to our paychecks, and she also holds the scissors that could snip this thread.


Barb, centuries ago Blaise Pascal asked why people like your boss are obeyed. Is it because they have more merit, he wondered? No. It is simply because they have more power. As Pascal observed, power without justice is tyranny.

We would like to believe if we do our job well and have good intentions, it matters. But with some people it doesn't matter. Why should it matter to your boss when she obtained her position not through merit but through connections?

The directors of your company are on her side and will do nothing to protect the employees. They consider her their social equal, and the employees social inferiors, though they will never say that. In addition, they won't admit they hired someone unqualified.

How wearing is it for your boss to go to work every day knowing she lacks the skills for the job? She is an imposter on her emotional edge. At least unconsciously, she wants all the people who knew she couldn't do the job, and all the people who taught her what she knows, gone.

The fallacy of all communication techniques is the other person has to be willing to play. Usually, that is exactly the problem. They won't play.

Weigh the tradeoff between having a bad boss and having less money. Then proceed from the basis of the power you possess. You have the power to be a good employee. You have the power to document what occurs in the workplace. You have the power to increase your skills. Most of all, you have the power to devise a plan to land on your feet, if the worst occurs.

Wayne & Tamara