3 Warning Signs that Lead me to Saying “Fuck You” to my Boss
“Fuck you!” I said to my boss. “Fuck YOU!” He said back. Or maybe it was “Fuck off,” and he might have said it first, I can’t recall. What I CAN recall is the feeling I had in that moment, that enough was enough. That my relationship to my boss and to the job itself was clearly unhealthy, and past the point of no return.
Here are the warning signs:
1. Jabs aren’t jokes, they’re insults
What started out as playful banter between friends (I was friends with my boss before I started working for him) turned mean. Jabs would be made both inside and outside the office that cut me down under the guise of “humor.” It happened once - I tolerated it. It happened twice - I told him never to speak like that to me again. It happened a third time - “Fuck you!”
2. Imitating your employees is a NO
I approached my boss with a question related to a relationship I was cultivating. I think I needed materials from him in order to move forward with the partnership. I explained the context to him and asked him for information and / or support. He then proceeded to imitate how I gesticulated with my hands when speaking to him. I tend to be very physically expressive & animated. He made fun of me to my face. If I recall correctly, I told him to stop. The next couple steps are foggy in my brain, but I know there was an escalation, and then, “Fuck you!”
3. Triggers produce reactivity
I was clearly triggered by my boss’s behavior. I felt belittled, disrespected, and embarrassed in front of my colleagues. He played on my frustrations with his past behavior, and surely tapped into existing insecurities within me. In the heat of the moment, I took his actions personally, and reacted accordingly. “Fuck you!”
I’m not dismissing my part in this. I take responsibility for participating in the escalation, and allowing myself to burst. I’m not proud of myself, but I did learn many important lessons.
Here’s what you can do to avoid a similar situation:
Pay attention to your own triggers.
Before you react, create space and awareness around the moment. If you cannot communicate clearly and constructively, it’s ok to step away and address the situation later.
Making fun of someone is never ok.
ESPECIALLY if you are in a position of power over them. As a leader, it is your responsibility to treat every single person with respect (even if it doesn’t feel fun all the time).
Working with friends requires an additional layer of conscientiousness.
If you hire friends, you must be comfortable establishing & adhering to clear communication boundaries.
You don’t have to stay in a toxic work environment.
If you have attempted to address conflict and nothing has changed, it is ok to find an environment that is healthy.
I am grateful for this experience because it taught me what not to do as a leader and showed me there is a desperate need for healthy communication training! I will never put myself in a position like this again, nor will I be the type of leader who intentionally demeans others.
“When we hit our lowest point we are open to the greatest change…”
Have you had similar experiences? We’d love for you to share your stories with us at email@example.com, or comment below.