How do you end a toxic professional relationship? I work for a woman who would best be described as an adult bully. I want out fair and clean, but the job market is super scary. She reacts like a child when I’ve tried to talk to her before and I feel the only solution is for me to quit. But how can I do this without damaging my reputation, which she’s likely to do? I’m so stressed about this, my partner is at her wits end. HELP!
Signed, bullied by my boss.
Dear bullied by my boss.
This is a tricky situation. So let’s start with what you feel like you know – that she will ruin your reputation. Reputation is a hard thing to keep perfect and everyone will have opinions about you, negative and positive. But, you need to just be the best you can be and hope for that to shine through. People will base their opinions on you from their experiences. If they only listen to gossip they are not the people you want in your life.
And, yes, the job market is super scary. But, you already feel like it is time to jump and grow. So the ball is in your court, you have the power. Take a day off and start looking around at your other options. You may feel like there are no other opportunities out there, but you just have to keep looking. If you want out that bad, it will give you the motivation to keep applying yourself. Work on a creating great resume and talk to other professionals for references.
Prepare yourself so that when the big break up happens you can tell your current boss, “I do not feel like I am a good fit here.” That takes the situation out of your hands and puts the ball squarely in her court. Just remember to keep it simple and try to get out of our current situation with the least amount of damage possible.
I also encourage you to work on healthy boundaries for your future job relationships. When I needed a wakeup call and some help dusting the foot prints off my back, a dear friend once told me, “People will give you 100% of what you put up with.” It is easier to have these boundaries established before the relationship starts. Otherwise you can be in the midst of a relationship and you can find yourself in a situation where the other person thinks everything is ok, when really, it’s not. This situation is not fair to you or to the other person. You should know what you will allow others to do or say to you. If you make drastic changes during the midst of a relationship, it will change the dynamics and you may be shocked to find yourself losing friends. But, and I can vouch from experience, it eventually becomes easier and it becomes like second nature. The new relationships you build will be healthier and the ones that stay will flex and understand your growth and encourage it.
One last piece of advice for to try for with your partner – give a time limit on work drama on a regular day (Of course this will not be the same when huge blow ups happen or big life decisions need to be made). If you give drama time and room, it will eat up your entire life. It really is amazing what you can get done when you start getting drama out of your bubble. If you set a limit it will stay off your mind and free up your mouth for other fun things to do in your relationship.