It’s 11pm and you’re still in the office. By your count you’ve worked at least 50 hours this week and it’s only Thursday. You’ve been working on a big piece of work, it’s important, you feel like you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into it, trying to ready it for a presentation to the boss. But you already know you’ve wasted your time.
You’ve put in the hours for nothing; your work, now in draft number 5, will be ripped apart, scrutinized, criticised, and a rewrite will be demanded, even though you followed the instructions given from on high almost to the letter, even when they changed from day to day. But the boss will change their mind again, and you will fail at your other two jobs of mind reading and performing a second by second tracking of their inconsistencies. Tomorrow you’ll be back to the drawing board, having wasted another week of your life, toiling towards a mirage of a goal: the satisfaction of a bully.
This has been the last nine months of my life; producing pieces of work with a rapid turnaround, only to be told the direction has changed, they’re not good enough, everyone else is doing it better than you, why can’t you be better (and knowing this was a blatant lie)? Or at least, that’s what you hear trapped under the thumb of a Big Bad Bully Boss.
The Bully Boss only cares about getting ahead, taking credit for your work that they deem worthy, and providing no explanation for their motivations, except that “they feel like it.” The Bully Boss doesn’t understand empathy or people or generally communicating in a work appropriate way. The Bully Boss stabs you in the back often, forgets every update you send them which prompts demands for the same information five times a day, constantly provides you with conflicting direction causing you to trip over yourself daily, and makes you feel stupid for not knowing which way the wind will blow from one day to the next.
The Bully Boss strips you of your sense of self, projecting their insecurities onto you frequently, until you’re convinced you really don’t know anything and you only got the job because they were doing you a favour.
The Bully Boss is a fragile, angry mess of raw emotion and little life ambition.
You can even feel bad for the Bully Boss, because it’s difficult to hate such obviously broken people. They know not what they do, you think; but they do. It’s what they’ve always done, how they’ve climbed the ladder, by stepping on others faces and then putting the blame on those beneath them on the ladder rung.
The Bully Boss taunts you, and sometimes event wants to be your friend. The Bully Boss can never, ever be trusted. They do not care about you. You remind yourself of this daily, and begin to look for support and validation from your colleagues, from other senior management, from your friends.
The Bully Boss haunts your dreams though, infiltrates your psyche, makes you think you’re dying inside. The Bully Boss lights a fire under your depression and leaves you in a forest surrounded by trees.
But it’s not all bad. Nothing unites people better than a common enemy.
The Bully Boss has a tendency to alienate themselves because of their terribleness, and you find solace in the similar experiences of your peers. You band together, come up with strategies and manoeuvre around the many mood swings of the Bully Boss. You discover what you’re made of, find out how far you can be pushed before you snap. You’re practically elastic now. You refine your negotiating skills, and find they don’t work because you’re not fluent in insanity.
But it’s OK, because you have regained your ambition. You know things the Bully Boss will never know about life because they do not know themselves. You plan to get out from under their worn thumb, and you put things in motion to leave the country. You laugh at how far things have come, that you felt you could only get away by going to the other side of the world. But it is that serious because your mental health is important. You already see how many breakdowns of other humans the Bully Boss has and will continue to leave in their wake. You warn as many as you can, then you separate your emotions from the business once you’ve resigned.
You realise that you are important and talented and have been misrepresented for nine months. You realise the Bully Boss will be a blip on the radar of your life, whilst this will be their peak. You’re back to feeling sorry for the Bully Boss again, but only for five seconds.
You start to reclaim the crushed pieces of your soul, and consider choking the Bully Boss with some of them as your parting gift, but that would be a waste of a good soul. You’re already out. They can’t hurt you anymore. They’re far too busy hurting themselves.
Image credit: Office Bully by Gan Khoon Lay from the Noun Project