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When the Boss Is a Bully

They verbally abuse you, humiliate you in front of others. Maybe it’s because power hovers in the air, but offices tend to bring out the bully in people. We offer strategies for handling such bad bosses.

If the schoolyard is the stomping ground of bully boys and bully girls, then the office is the playground of adult bullies. Perhaps because power is the chief perk in most companies, especially those with tight hierarchies, offices can bring out the bully in people.

Everyone has a war story. There’s the boss who calls at 2 A.M. from Paris–just because he’s there. The boss who asks for your evaluation of a problem and then proceeds to denigrate you and your opinion in front of the whole staff as you seethe with hopefully hidden rage. “It’s a demonstration of power. It’s demeaning,” contends Harry Levinson, Ph.D., the dean of organizational psychologists and head of the Levinson Institute in Waltham, Massachusetts.

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