When Your Boss Is a Ruthless Monster

How to reduce your daily stress and maintain your sanity

Posted Apr 09, 2017

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Ruthless monsters are hostile people who take pleasure in causing others difficulty. It’s tolerable when the ruthless monster is someone who you can avoid. But, what do you do when the ruthless monster is your boss?

Ruthless Monster bosses take pride in catching you in a mistake and making you squirm. They get their kicks out of attacking you or threatening to fire you, and it’s even more delightful for them to reprimand you in front of your peers or customers.  Ruthless Monsters demand blind obedience, but keep changing the rules to fit their whims. They berate you for errors they initiated, and then not only deny any responsibility, but also fail to show you a better way.

Ruthless Monsters are deliberately mean. You can’t disagree with them without making the situation worse. You have to find a way to keep them from draining your spirit and zapping your ego.

What You’re Thinking

My boss isn’t happy unless he’s degrading and humiliating his team. He purposely tries to make me look foolish and incapable. I am especially upset because he asked me to be upfront when I had any problem with my team, but when I did, he used what I shared to give me a poor performance review. He embarrasses me when I make mistakes and publicly ridicules me to teach me “lessons.” I’ve started covering up instead of talking to him, because I think he’s making me a scapegoat to protect his own position.

A Ruthless Monster’s Thoughts

I’ve got to shake my people out of their complacency. If I embarrass them some more, then I can motivate them to work faster. So what if I have to break a few company rules to get the work done? It’s coming out ahead of my colleagues and staying top of mind with the Big Boss that matters most.


Your immediate goal is to reduce your daily stress on the job. Learn to stand up for yourself and express your anger in a positive way.  You can move along two tracks simultaneously.

  1. Try a shock treatment.  Stand up for yourself by asking your boss to please sit down, looking him in the eye without blinking, and calmly stating that you wish to be treated with the respect due another human being. Your unexpected action may catch him off guard and may command a bit more respect.
  2. Learn what recourse you have in your company. For instance, many organizations have anonymous hotlines for this very purpose. Your Human Resources representative can explain any grievance procedures. If your boss thinks his behavior may be tagged “unprofessional,” he’ll want to avoid getting in trouble and may let up a little.
  3. Anonymous feedback may be better. If you are uncomfortable going to HR, write to the top boss. Point to high turnover, low morale, or other pervasive problems. Propose a formalized system that enables workers to make suggestions to managers positioned above their immediate supervisors.

Tactical Talk

Boss: You stupid fool. Can’t you follow the simplest orders? How can I run a division when I have an idiot like you working for me!

You: Of course, I can follow orders, Boss. But which order do you want me to follow—the one you told me about yesterday or what you are telling me to do now? If I made a mistake, tell me. I’m glad to do what you think is best. But, there’s no need to call me names.

Tip: If the torture continues and you’re becoming a physical or emotional wreck, consider making a job move sooner rather than later. Your emotional wellbeing is most important.

Want to learn more about handling difficult people in the workplace? Please follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Read my book Working with Difficult People or visit www.amycooperhakim.com.

Copyright© 2017 Amy Cooper Hakim