My boss is a meanie!

My boss is a meanie!

Jun 01, 2006
By staff

I work for a veterinarian who's nice to clients—but she yells and criticizes her team in public. She doesn't even say hello or goodbye to us half of the time. What can we do?
—Feeling Put Down

Dear Put Down,

The bad news: Cupid doesn't carry "nice" darts. So you're going to have to put in a little elbow grease to smooth out these rough waters.

First, ask yourself this question: Are you nice to your boss? Do you say hello when you pass her in the hall, or do you dart into doorways and duck out without a good night? Often, the best way to change another person's behavior is to change your own first. Perhaps your doctor isn't feeling the love. In other words, if you think she's rude or disrespectful, she might be thinking the same thing about you.

Next, plan a heart-to-heart with your boss. Talk one-on-one, and keep it private. Here's the tough part: You've got to offer specific examples of the behavior that's bothering you. That means you're forbidden from starting any sentence with the words "always" or "never." And you've got to be nice. Seriously. Your boss has feelings, too, and if you're confrontational she'll just tune you out. You might say, "It really embarrassed me yesterday when you criticized me in front of a client. I appreciate your feedback on how to improve, but I feel more comfortable talking about it in private."

I know it's tough. The truth is, changing behavior is hard. So the whole team needs to be on board. If you approach this with a positive, friendly attitude, your boss just might surprise you.