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How to Handle a Supervisor Who Talks Down & Belittles You

by Ashley Miller

Even when you try your best, show up on time, get along with co-workers and don't rock the boat, you might still suffer at work if you face a toxic, unprofessional and demeaning supervisor. Dealing with a supervisor or manager who talks down and belittles you can make your workday feel like a nightmare. However, you don't have to suffer endlessly if you are smart and well prepared to handle the situation.

Don't Shoot From the Hip

Depending on your personality type, it can be tempting to react immediately to your boss's negative, inappropriate behavior. You might want to tell your boss off or storm out of the office. If you're the kind of person who tells it like it is and has no problem being assertive, you might have more difficulty holding your tongue than someone who keeps to themselves and doesn't often speak up. In either case, however, it's best to give yourself some time before you charge out with guns blazing. You need to consider the consequences of your actions and words -- and speaking your mind right away out of anger or frustration might not be worth an immediate job loss, says Bloomberg Business Week. Bite your tongue as best as you can, take a breather if possible, and give yourself a few moments to recoup and relax when your boss says something belittling and demeaning.

Keep a Record

Keep an accurate, written record of the things your supervisor says and does. Be specific and note dates and times. At the same time, record your accomplishments, the goals you've attained or the targets you've reached, advises attorney Calvin Sun in an article for Tech Republic. Include any compliments or kudos from co-workers. If you need to go to the higher-ups at some point to lodge a formal complaint against your supervisor, you'll want to have as much documentation as possible to support your statements.

Confront

Confronting your supervisor about his belittling, demeaning behavior can be one of the most difficult, yet necessary, steps you can take in handling the situation. Demeaning and belittling behavior is a form of workplace bullying, and you shouldn't have to fear going to work or suffer in any other way due to your supervisor's inappropriate actions. In an article for Workplace Doctors, communications consultant Tina Lewis Rowe suggests responding directly when your supervisor says something belittling or degrading. For example, if your supervisor puts you down, you might respond by saying something like, "What makes you say that? Am I not doing a good job?" Calling your supervisor on her actions might take away her steam. Don't use sarcasm -- stay professional and let her know that you would prefer that she didn't speak to you in that way again. If her behavior continues, you may need to lodge a formal complaint with your human resources department.

Develop a Thick Skin

In a tough economy, it might be advisable to tough it out for as long as you can, at least until you can find another job. Keep the old childhood phrase, "I'm rubber, you're glue," in mind. Realize that your supervisor's behavior isn't about you - it's about him, suggests business consultant Erika Andersen in an article for Forbes.com. Try to ignore your supervisor's comments and don't let them get to you. Maintain a sense of humor and cultivate a positive social support network to rely on when you need to blow off steam. It's not easy, but trying to let his comments roll off your back can help you stay sane while you seek other potential employment options.

About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.

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