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Dear Izzy,

My boss is the devil incarnate. I feel like my entire team is riding a carousel and she’s just choosing among us whom next she’ll trip on. And when she trips on you…ayayay. There was one time, I was the flavor of the month, and she won’t talk to me to even give me my weekly tasks—to think I sit in front of her desk! One time she gave me a last-minute rush job, over email, with next day as deadline, as though setting me up to fail. I tried talking with HR but nothing’s been done. I don’t want to quit because that’ll just give her satisfaction.

Office Girl

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Dear OG,

This is a classic power-tripping scenario. Chances are your boss is a psychopath but it’s more likely that the assholery is coming from years of conditioning from other assholes. It could be that your boss was hazed as she was climbing the corporate ladder and learned that you need to utilize fear and intimidation tactics to enforce your authority.

This is a fucking stereotype that will endure unless serious upheavals shake our cultures of power and respect.

Sweetheart, I applaud the determination not to quit. But it sounds like your boss has effectively messed with your head if you’re sticking around to spite her and prove a point. This is not a movie. This is not a story of good and evil and trying to prevail over The Devil Wears Prada or The Wolf of Wall Street.

This is your fucking life. Decide now if you value the work you do enough to put up with your boss’ bullshit. Do you love what you do? Are you building a worthwhile career in this office? Are you learning important things and being challenged? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

If you’re just coasting along with this job, I suggest you evaluate the direction you’re heading and consider quitting. QUIT! Here at Dear Izzy, there is no weakness in quitting! You are not the loser here when you weigh your options well and own your destiny.

On the other hand, this office environment may still bring out the best in you. The work may be fulfilling and maybe your fellow workers are great people. Only you can decide if the work is worth sticking around for. If you decide to hold your ground, understand that you have to learn how to stick up for yourself.

On the personal front, your boss is being a bully. If you take yourself out of that mental space though, what your boss is also doing is getting in the way of you doing your job. If you’re not able to do your job well, the company suffers. What makes your boss a weasel is when she finds ways to blame the problems she’s creating on you. You already know this.

To approach this issue, the problem isn’t really about your feelings (they’re just collateral damage), the problem is with your boss being a productivity killer. We already know she’s an asshole and the key to disarming assholes is to find your power and to leverage your assets. This means you have to stop being passive and non-confrontational! If she refuses to give you your tasks, go up to her and ask for it.

This is your job on the line. If she refuses to give you enough legroom to accommodate deadlines, call her out on it. I know this will be hard, but it will be so liberating for you. Standing up to bullies is what brings out your grit. It’s a life skill you’ll be able to carry out to everything you do.

In non-confrontational Philippines, sometimes getting in someone’s face is enough to shake the power dynamics. So what if she’s the fucking boss. Being the boss doesn’t mean being king and treating your subordinates like lapdogs. Being a boss means managing your staff well and motivating them to accomplish tasks together. HOLD HER RESPONSIBLE.

This is about your productivity and her lousy managerial skills. When you make it about that, that’s when you can rally your assets – your fellow workers and the HR department. This is a great time to bring everyone together – nothing strengthens camaraderie like the stranglehold of a domineering shitbag. Grab some drinks after work. Organize more status meetings. Learn to pick up each other’s slack, let everyone else know what you’re going through. With HR, make the next report about your boss’ behavior being a liability to the company’s productivity. Over time you guys will learn how to deflect her tactics and turn her into the office running joke – or she might even wake up! No boss can keep their reign of terror when most of the staff is against them.

That’s the ideal scenario.

The worst case scenario is a shit boss coupled with a shit staff and a shit HR. There are many, many people who don’t want to rock the boat and will take the abuse. These are the same people who have internalized the self-loathing master-alipin dynamic. There are people who will only look after themselves and will choose to keep a low profile. When the whole office is behaves in the same way, that’s the culture you’re living in. If you’re not careful you’ll end up imbibing the culture. Could this be what your office looks like?

I asked you earlier to figure out if you job is worth all of this bull. Now I will ask you to figure out what your values are. You job is what you will be spending most of your days doing. Do you want to be building your life in environments that dabble in politicking and pettiness? Do you want to be under the leadership of someone who correlates abusing people with success?

Offices are waking up around the world. Inspiring bosses are out there. Compassionate co-workers are out there. People everyday are now exploring better ways of conducting business.

Choose well, OG. Know you are also your own boss.

Love,
Izzy

Got problems? Write to Izzy: mb.life.official[at]gmail[dot]com

Illustrations: Madel Crudo

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