Ask Your Boss: When a Boss Doesn’t Deal With an Office Bully

“I am in a unique position. I am an onsite vendor working for a client. The job is going pretty well except for one thing: 

One of the members on our small team is very difficult to work with. My client boss has taken me aside and apologized for the way this person has treated me i.e. super passive aggressive nit picky emails. My client boss said she would talk to this person.

The rudeness has continued. Now my client boss has said that it is my responsibility to work out the issues with this person. I told her that I felt very uncomfortable due to the vendor/client relationship. She said there was no conflict. 

Is my client boss taking the easy way out by having me take the responsibility for the relationship? Personally I think my client boss needs to handle the matter not me.”

You are right. It seems to me that your boss is choosing an easy way out because you are a vendor, an outsider, and not her direct subordinate. But of course, I might be wrong with my assumptions. I wonder if it is her management style. Or absence thereof. My guess is she does not like to deal with personnel issues. Let’s be honest, no one likes to deal with problem employees or office bullies.

My answer to you is based on two assumptions. Assumption one: she did indeed talk to the employee, and we might never find out what was said between them. No matter what was said, it yielded no results. Could it be that this particular employee is known for passive aggressive behavior? Could it be that everyone is tired of dealing with the bully? Anything is possible. Obviously, the rudeness continues. Assumption two: she never talked to that employee because she is protecting her own people, and you are perceived as an outsider. In any case, it seems to me that you are on your own.

I hate rude people in offices. I classify them as bullies. Bullying needs to be dealt with. Therefore, I see three choices so far (please, realize that I am going off the information you gave me.)

Choice Number One

You take control of the situation, and you confront the bully. Express your thoughts to the bully firmly but tactfully, making sure to mention that you do not appreciate this type of behavior, and you are not going to tolerate it. Explain how he/she makes you feel, and how it affects you. Then, ask how this person sees the situation. Or simply ask why such rudeness is directed towards you. You might be able to work it out.

Choice Number Two

You can print out all the offensive emails, and go to the boss’s Boss or directly to HR. Tell your story and explain that you are not getting any help. The situation might get resolved. You also might gain another enemy in the face of your boss. Or you might lose your job and a client.

Choice Number Three

Don’t do anything, and patiently wait until this project is over, and you can move on to another project and another client. I hope one day you will work for a boss who is not afraid to manage and be a boss.

Want to ask Your Boss a question? There is a form on the top of the right sidebar. Fill it in and submit it. I will write a post in response.

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