It’s been hot hot hot. Air conditioner pumping away, not quite cooling things down enough. Sleepiness and laziness….

Ron is back, and I went off to my session Thursday evening. It was fine. One thing about evening sessions, I don’t plunge into my stuff as deeply as on a Saturday. I’ve almost made it through my day, so I’m in coping mode for the most part.

It was good to see him, that he was safe, and not mowed down by terrorists or anything. Europe sounds like a scary place right now, though usually I’d have few concerns.

I can’t remember the session. I know I brought him up to date on my life for about twenty minutes, then felt I had nothing more to discuss, then various parts spoke up. There’s pressure from parts to speak with him basically.

I told him about my meeting with J, my boss. Monday, I was completely pumped up, knowing I had to take some action to make my life at work bearable, or quit. On Monday, it didn’t seem fair to immediately go over her head to talk to her boss, so I decided I’d talk to her. My adrenaline was pumping, my heart beating – I was in emergency mode.

She agreed to meet, but thought it was about a memo I was writing, so we discussed that, then I said I had an ‘HR’ matter to discuss. And I said some things – that I was not happy, that I was considering leaving, that I felt she was almost yelling at me most of the time, that she was setting up an odd dynamic within the team. And that’s about literally all I got to say. She launched into a full discussion or her own feelings and issues, which took the rest of the time. It really is all about her all the time. My impression was that she barely heard anything I said.

She did say she liked me, she liked my work, and was preparing to hire me on full time. She definitely does not treat me differently than my co-worker B (sure), and a lot of stuff which I cannot remember.

Oh, I also said I do not have enough to do, and putting in my time day after day for eight hours a day with nothing to do was brutal. Then she said something about how she’s seen me surfing and that I should be reading internal documents when it’s ‘slow’. And under no circumstances to tell her boss I didn’t have enough to do. In the future, I will be given more parts of this job, which she doesn’t think I’m ready for yet.

It did emerge that her boss had directed her to give B the work that actually was part of my job, so it wasn’t her idea necessarily.

I ended up yelling at her that I ‘was half way out the door’ because she didn’t seem to be taking in that I was truly upset and fed up. Then she kind of yelled over me that she was speaking and to let her finish. You have to listen to her for a long long time before she feels she can listen to you. She’s like a child – she cannot really take a manager role, which she perceives as purely directive.

On the other hand, she was engaged in this meeting. She was alert, and did not try to shut the meeting down, nor did she punish me for it. She genuinely expressed her emotions, and eventually allowed me to also speak. She can’t seem to focus very well on what anyone else is saying though, so it wasn’t clear that she heard me or understood what I was saying.

So a mixed bag. The first few days after this meeting I felt better – like some of the pressure was off. She’d also explained that she didn’t respond well when I asked her something when she was just finished at B’s desk, because she was thinking about B’s projects, so that would be why she walked away while I was still talking to her. I don’t know.

Nothing much will change, because she is being driven by strong forces she doesn’t understand.

J did institute team meetings, presumably in response to our meeting, and we had the first Friday. She spent twenty five minutes of a thirty minute meeting explaining why no one (meaning me) must go to her desk with questions unless they are for an urgent deadline. I had just asked her a question that morning, and so I felt kind of squashed. She said we must respect her time. She does spend hours with B, but I am not allowed to ask a question. So then I hated her again.

I tell my tale to Ron, and he comments that the meeting between myself and J doesn’t seem to have been that positive. I felt somewhat positive about it, but he pointed out that nothing much seemed to have been resolved. True enough. Maybe it was that in contrast to how my mother would behave in these circumstances, J did not shut the meeting down, and she did respond to me, by discussing her own concerns, but still, we had some kind of a discussion. She didn’t punish me. That’s good, no? But yes, nothing will change.

When I first came, B said, well, J can’t help her personality. Which I thought was pandering or something….lame maybe. But now I agree. She can’t really help her personality. I mean, sure, she could if she was in enough pain to want to change – but she isn’t, and does not see the effect of her behaviour on others. She seems to think we’ve had our discussion, and now I’m happy, and if she institutes all kinds of rules for behaviour and keeps telling her team exactly what to do, and if she feels happy, all is well.

This post is mostly not about therapy. Ron continues to have the mostly unstated opinion that this boss is a lost cause and I need to get out of the situation. He has never said that except right at the beginning, but he seems to continue to think that. Therapists are not supposed to tell you what to do. And of course with something like my job, if I’m then unemployed and suffering, he would not want to have contributed to that. It’s tricky.

I’m trying to detach from all this, not obsess. I think I will need to talk to the bigger boss at some point, to see if there’s a possibility that I could report to someone else.

Also, there’s a director there that I was working with, who is going out of his way to say hello and thank you and to be kind, basically. I’m trying to take that in – I think he’s trying to cheer me up. Not everyone there is mean. Actually, no one is mean, except this one woman. I need to focus on the good stuff.


  1. leb105 said:

    I don’t think I could have ever been that brave, to talk to J. Sticking up for yourself, with a woman who triggers your memories of your mother? So brave. I think as soon as I feel something – I get derailed. Maybe that happens to J. And she can keep YOU from talking, by talking. Having done that, though, and survived, it seems to have taken away some of her ability to intimidate you!
    What I can’t figure out, is why you don’t ask her boss if you can report to someone else?

    • Ellen said:

      It did take some bravery, thank you. She doesn’t remind me of my mother at all really – she has maybe the opposite dysfunction to my mother – my mother has retreated into herself, while J is more borderline – she broadcasts her strong emotions…..I never thought of J’s talking as a device to keep me from talking. I do know she has trouble restraining herself in most circumstances, and mostly doesn’t bother. In her boss’s office, her boss is constantly shushing her so she (big boss) can speak. She feels she must be heard at all times it seems.

      I did survive, yes, and it’s true I’m not that intimidated. I really have never been, and that’s likely a reason I’m triggering J – she needs to be in charge and in control. Anyhow. Her boss is currently on vacation. It’s scary for me anyway to go and talk to her – she does intimidate me. But I do mean to have the conversation soon.


  2. I can see why the Ron said what he did. The boss isn’t healthy and she does create a hostile environment but you have other things to consider, like an income. Something I did with one of the bosses I had that was difficult was I created what I called a never ending list. Materials I could read, organizing I could do, and other jobs that seemed to always be there like dishes. It made my day go faster. Sorry to hear you are working with what I call a steam roller, they use their words and personality to roll right over you. If you feel better from the discussion that is helpful, but looking long term you might want to consider other choices.
    Cheering for you,

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry you also had difficult bosses. Thank you Ruth

  3. I admire how you are actively trying to deal with and problem solve this terribly difficult situation!

    • Ellen said:

      I give myself credit for trying to solve it also. 🙂 Things are always a little different from how you think once you have some kind of a discussion. Thanks Cat.

  4. Grainne said:

    Could there be any way to transfer within the company? That woman is not likely to get easier to work with. Mine just keep more existing as I go and it’s been two years for me now.

    • Ellen said:

      Maybe…I don’t know. I think I could apply for another job if one came up, though so far nothing. Sorry your bosses are crap also. 😦 Thanks

  5. e.Nice said:

    I hate the heat. The AC in my office has been malfunctioning and it just makes it so hard to get anything done (when it is already a struggle). I’m glad that Ron is back and you’ve been able to reconnect and feel support again. I think you are really trying so hard to make things work at that job, having conversations, explaining things, etc. I think its so weird that you aren’t allowed to ask questions…. I mean that is sort of a boss’ job, to answer questions about work. Thats why they get paid the big bucks. I’m at a loss for how dysfunctional this all seems.

    • Ellen said:

      I wouldn’t get anything at all done at work without AC! It is dysfunctional – remember, it is a bank though, not any kind of social service organization, where I assume people work because they want to connect with others…. Thanks

      • e.Nice said:

        True, my current work situation is a bunch of social type people, but I have worked in a lot of other places including with socially awkward engineers and physicists and while there were some people who didn’t socialize at all, the majority of the people did create a functional work environment. Usually its a mix between a few overly buddy buddy types (its nice to talk but I actually do need to get my work done!), a few really non social types and most somewhere in between.

  6. Proud of you for sharing how you felt, staying present in the conversation, and getting out what needed said. Hope your week goes well.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you DID. Hope your week gets better also.

  7. Your boss is really appalling. Bank or social service agency, it doesn’t matter; the most basic requirement of a manager is to engage with employees about what they need to work effectively. Clearly she has no clue, which is a shortcoming of hers, yes, but even more so of HR, which does have responsibility to support and monitor their managers. You are doing a great job of self-advocacy, but it sounds like a highly dysfunctional system. No wonder you feel so frustrated!
    What are the options for employment somewhere else?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, she’s pretty bad. I’ve found HR at banks pretty much useless – they are there for management, not to help workers. Once HR is involved, you’ve lost your job, pretty much.

      Thanks for the kind words. And yes – if I take this job full time, I could move in about a year – lots of people move laterally. Or, of course, I can look for work elsewhere.

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