How to handle a brutally rude boss

I’ve experienced C.E.O. cruelty firsthand. I took the plunge and left for a job at a tech firm, which meant a move away from my family and friends. I’m disappointed, to say the least, when I learn that I’m not as beloved as I hoped. The rudeness, snarkiness, and anything but respect can be overwhelming at times.

Often, I get a snarky letter on the third page of my CV, written by a hostile employee and rejected by the C.E.O. The first book I read as a job candidate mentioned negative feedback in many paragraphs. I am embarrassed, but I’m aware that the worst thing about this is not getting the job, but making the repulsive C.E.O. feel better about his total lack of influence over his staff.

On the plus side, I have learned a lot about how to do my job better and to communicate better and with more sensitivity. Here are some of the CEOs I turn to for advice.

Mike Reiman: “I’m glad you got a letter that made me feel bad and understood the real issue, that the great work ethic and a really great team are so powerful—and true, the talent is that wonderful—that it has become the star—not the reputations. The C.E.O. is needed to win the game but he is at a disadvantage on the court with the talented players. Who’s going to solve the core problem, the C.E.O.? To win the game, the excellent team wins.”

Kathleen Casey: “Don’t get locked into your field of expertise. Find something outside of your area of expertise and do it well. Then, because you’re no longer in your own world, you can be exposed to new ideas and opportunities and build your own network. I retired from a career in law and that changed me forever—it challenged me to make more of the opportunities I didn’t know existed.”

Shelly Murakami Chan: “Learn. Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill that you are not totally comfortable with or get one that has some complication. This keeps you on your toes.”

Susan Bolger: “Jargon is a killer. I’ve seen it spread like wildfire inside my company. Use a broader vocabulary, not a small one, so that you keep your options and knowledge fresh.”

Joseph Luedinger: “The most memorable quote I have learned is, ‘You’re never quite as good as you think you are. And you’re never quite as bad as you think you are.’”

Diana Gewirtz: “Be more like Spock—no emotionality but a clear command of the issue at hand, and decisive handling.”

Mark Tillman: “The one difference between me and my coaching clients is that they are all still pretty good with fire. I am an emotional person. I tend to get a little emotional when somebody else is being aggressive, and a little emotional when they are being unkind.”

H.R. Minister X: “Call a meeting with your hiring manager about your self-deception. Employees need to know they can trust and count on you.”

This interview was originally published on The Starting Line.

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