Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to avoid being intimidated by your boss

It can be difficult to work for a boss who tries to frighten his employees. Going out of his way to use intimidation to highlight mistakes or inaccuracies--but never taking any time to recognise a job well done--can kill employee morale. To keep your confidence where it should be, you need to find ways to avoid being intimidated by your boss.

Determine if the behaviour is intimidation or harassment. Intimidation is a form of bullying. In early 2010, bullying in the workplace is not yet illegal. Harassment in the workplace is against the law. Harassment occurs if your boss used unwelcome comments or physical conduct that were based on race, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation or retaliation, according to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If your boss has been harassing you, take action by establishing a complaint or grievance with the appropriate personnel, like his supervisor or human resources.

Document the incidents of intimidation. The latter is not illegal, but there are actions you can take to stop the intimidation. For example, start documenting the incidents as they occur, such as the date, time, summary of the incident and be sure to include the names of witnesses, if there are any present. Unwarranted criticism, isolation, humiliation, cursing and swearing are all forms of intimidation that should be recorded. Your documentation will corroborate your story if you complain about his behaviour to the appropriate personnel. Once you complain about the intimidation, the problem should be address immediately. See Resources for more information.

Talk to your boss. If you boss has not done anything illegal, but his behaviour and the way he talks to you still make you uneasy, have a dialogue with your boss to share your issues and concerns. He may not even know his behaviour offends you, or he could just be a very demanding boss.

Limit your interactions with your boss. If you can find ways to avoid interacting with boss, you will not have to be subjected to his intimidation. Stay around him long enough to find out what he needs from you, such as job duties or feedback, and beyond that, stay out of his way or area.

Look at the world through your boss's lens. Harsh statements and behaviour that you see as intimidating, your boss may see them as "motivating" employees to perform better, according to CareerBuilder, an online employment resource.

Grow a thicker skin. Your boss may be intimidating because he is drunk with power. Yet if he feels that you are not scared by his behaviour, he will probably leave you alone. If he rations out harsh criticism--on a daily basis--grow a thicker skin. In addition, you can use the constructive portion of the "harsh" feedback as a resource, but leave the rest in the past, and don't let it bother you so much.

Do your best work. If your boss intimidates you by constantly pointing out what you did wrong on a project, stop the intimidation by doing your very best. A job that is done well cannot be torn apart by his intimidation.


Never let your boss see you emotional; it may only fuel the intimidation.


Abusive behaviour should never be tolerated.