A few days ago, I had a conversation with a blog reader and she wanted me to discuss this topic. It’s quite interesting and somewhat troubling how some workplaces are structured. This goes down to the workplace culture which may take a while to change if the culture has eaten in too deep.

If you are still young and there were loads of jobs to go for, you’d most likely quit your job and hop to the next. But when there are no jobs available, or you are just way too deep to start afresh, quitting your job may not be the best alternative in this case.

No disputing, I am against verbal abuse, harassment, violence, or sexual assault at work, you name it! It’s uncalled for and shouldn’t even be tolerated outside the workplace.

One would think that some individuals would have grown up and left high school behaviors behind, but you’d be amazed at what we get to hear these days. So let’s not pretend this topic doesn’t need discussing.

If you are in this situation, you’re at the receiving end and it’s bad enough. Since we may not be able to change this bully of an employer, I’d rather we work on ways you can stay sane (if you still need to work with this employer).

Because, at the very least, we should find ways to mitigate the situation.

My interest in this topic grew the more after watching CNN the other day. We’ve been hearing so much about the sexual harassment allegations against Fox News and I felt very disheartened when one of the ex-employees at Fox mentioned that in her own case it had gone way beyond sexual harassment but so much into harassment of a different variety, which included verbal abuse.

According to a research, abusive bosses are often people who are narcissistic, denigrating, arrogant, and unsupportive — or outright undermining — of employee’s learning and development. Furthermore, abusive supervisors don’t respond to followers being positive and compassionate, and doing things to be supportive and helpful.

Since we know this, I’d now share some tips that can help you, if you are currently wrestling with a verbally abusive employer.

1. No one can make you feel bad with words alone except with your consent

Growing up as a child with a fairly tiny voice, I soon realized that I’d face bullying. It wasn’t long before reality dawned on me. I’ll have some classmates try to imitate me or make me feel bad about my voice or about the fact that I was one of the smallest (size) in my class. I had to learn really fast that no one had the power to make me feel bad except I gave them the consent.

No doubt, their words would hurt my feelings and I’ll feel bad, but I soon had to live with the reality that this was me, I was unique and it was just my personality. I could do little or nothing about my weight, size, voice, etc. I just had to be confident and not give a damn!

And I think we should totally bring this attitude to the workplace. How you react to a verbally abusive person is what should be your responsibility.

2. Discover your work personality

I like to think that I’m another person when I step into the office. Now don’t begin to think that it’s being fake or blah blah. I feel that work ethics should be held high and this should include composure and a distinct personality.

Just the other day, I was talking to my colleagues about how I love pictures, take a look at my Instagram page! They never had the slightest hint of that.

Anyway, asides the fact that they know that I run a blog, one can hardly tell that I am a picture lover most weekends. In that same vein, you want to have a personality that shakes away verbal abuse and has the right response to such a bossy boss.

I think practice makes perfect in this sense. So do a role play. What type of character do you want to be at the office? The one that others hold in high esteem? The one that has the right answer at all times, like Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty) in Suits?

You don’t have to not be your real self, you just have to have that personality at work where you can’t be beaten down by anyone, but willing to be the best at your job. That alter ego that will be able to stand tall, clear out any verbal abuse, and have the right response that settles it all.

3. Talk to your Boss/ someone that can speak to him/ her

This would be ideal if you and your boss had a cordial relationship at some point in the past, before the verbal abuse suddenly sprung. I think you should take advantage of your next one-on-one and let him or her know how you feel. Be firm and polite.

If you never had a good relationship in the past, it still doesn’t hurt to set up a meeting to talk.

Discuss ways to mutually support each other if you think it may be a performance issue from your side. Remember to align your concerns with the growth of the company, department or team and corporate goals. Just because, you need to have your sanity and a good corporate culture to thrive and perform well.

Alternatively, you can also speak with someone with referent power at work and this person may have a better suggestion to lay out the information to your boss. I would speak to someone that has such influence prior to speaking with your boss, because it’ll be good to hear from someone in the same environment as you first.

And if there is no one to speak to, then ideally, one would expect that you’d speak with the human resources personnel at your workplace.

In speaking with your boss, being confident, polite, and calm all play an important role in your communication. You want to call out the behavior and make your boss rethink his words and actions. You are not a coward and you are addressing the behavior first hand.


Avoid moving to another negative abusive workplace. Notice the red flags from your interview. Listen to what and how the interviewers speak to you. Ask questions from people working in the company and know how the workplace culture is.

The internet has made things so much easier these days. Research on company reviews and consider if it’ll be a good working environment for you. Glassdoor gives various anonymous reviews that are so essential in decision making.

It would be unbearable to have a verbally abusive boss to work with as we spend most of our hours of the day at work. It’s expected that we are in an environment that thrives with positivity. I hope these tips are useful and if you just can’t take it anymore, please remember that your heath comes first at all times.

It’s essential to do something other than just soak up the abuse. No matter how strong you think you are, the abuse could take a toll on your well-being. So try out these tips and let me know how it goes.

Do you have other tips to share? Have you worked with a verbally abusive boss in the past, how did you handle it? Please share below.