Diane had it.  For almost two years she had worked evenings and week-ends to take the company sales to a higher level.  The company’s annual revenue had grown 11% since she had joined the organization.  Since the beginning of her employment she remained open and respectful when she received critical comments from her boss and used the feedback to work that much harder to prove her competence.

Now, sitting in a meeting for her annual review, her boss focused only on minute, irrelevant comments that had nothing to do with her job performance.  Further, abstract comments were made about her delayed response time to deadlines of which she knew she could provide a paper trail of evidence against these false claims.  No mention was made of the contribution she had made to the company’s growth and strength in the market place.  Gratefully she had invited the company HR Director to sit in on the evaluation because she had a feeling this is what would happen and she wanted an ally with her.

Within ten minutes she had enough.  She stood up and in an uncharacteristic manner raised her voice and said “these are nitpicking comments that have nothing to do with how well I am performing my job. The allegations being made are unfounded.  I will provide documentation that proves my attention to detail and response time.”  She then looked at the HR Director and requested the meeting to end.

Enough is enough! 

Perhaps you have been in Diane’s shoes.  For months, maybe years, you have responded to your abrasive boss with respect and civility despite being treated with disrespect, condescending comments, and micro-management.  If your temperament and personality style tendency is to take abrasive comments without pushing back, it can be easy to go to the opposite extreme of losing your temper and saying things that could jeopardize your job.  From a brain science perspective, once the part of the brain that controls emotion is triggered to a furious state of self-preservation, it leads you to saying things that have been pushed down.

Four Risks of Taking a Stand with an Abrasive Boss

  1. Being falsely labeled as “insubordinate” or “overly emotional”.
  2. Your job
  3. Enrollment in a conduct improve plan
  4. Further targeting as a “problem” employee

Since Diane’s performance review, three months ago, her boss has said very little to her, of which she is relieved.  She stated “I would rather be ignored than abused”.

In Diane’s case, there have not been negative consequences since she stood up to her abrasive boss and she is actively looking for another position.  In the meantime, she no longer works evenings or week-ends and she feels a heightened level of self-value for having taking a stand to being treated in a disrespectful and demeaning manner.

Weighing the risks of Taking a Stand

Standing up to abrasive bosses is risky.  Depending on your particular circumstances, the impact on your overall well-being, and financial situation, it might be worth the risk.  Proceed with caution.

Make the conscious choice before standing up to an abrasive boss to weigh your risks and options if further abrasive treatment would continue