Disclosure: If you make a purchase via a link on this site, I may receive a small commission, and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See the Disclosure page for more information. Thank you!
What Every Target of Workplace Bullying Needs to Know

Bullied By A Deeply Insecure Boss


For the first 2 years in my job I had excellent feedback about my performance. I was passionate, dedicated and creative. During this time I was given more responsibility and worked hard to develop my skills, knowledge and professional network.

Perplexingly, as my performance and positive feedback from my colleagues increased, the worse the feedback manager became. She also began (unfairly) loading me up with additional work and removing responsibilities without explanation. She gave me deliberately vague instructions (and therefore was able to criticise me whatever I did) and withheld information and resources so that it was difficult or impossible to do my work.

Each time I tried to address concerns about these practices with her, she insisted there was nothing wrong with her behaviour and the problem was all to do with my personal shortcomings such as my ability to cope / my time management skills.

This bullying went on for about 12 months, it has affected me quite badly - I have been badly depressed, withdrawn from friends and colleagues, deeply self-conscious of others' perceptions of me, lost confidence in my professional abilities and my ability to interact with others. The most debilitating outcome has been social phobia resulting in anxiety and difficulty with leaving the house.

It took a while for me to realise what my manager was doing, but once I did - with the help of my union representative - I took the matter to the human resources (HR) department. Although HR explicitly supported my manager, they did agree to a 10 week payout and the process gave me a forum to express my concerns openly and uninterrupted with my manager present.

Now I am concentrating on getting her criticisms and judgements out of my head. I keep reminding myself that she was actively trying to break down my confidence and control me BECAUSE I was good at my job and because people liked and valued me. And when I am ready, I know I'll find a good job with a supportive manager. I also know to trust my judgement and hope I will be able to recognise and deal with a bully sooner in future.

Comments for Bullied By A Deeply Insecure Boss

Click here to add your own comments

Deeply Insecure Boss
by: Linda Guirey - The Marbles Expert

You are absolutely right. You were targeted because you were good at your job and you posed a threat. Most bullies do not pick on weak and vulnerable employees, they pick on those that pose a threat, but those that they consider they can have power and control over (in this case your boss).

In most cases, targets of bullying have to leave, because very few workplaces adequately recognise bullying, the effects of bullying, the costs to the workplace and what consequences should follow.

When your health is affected, there really isn't any other choice and by leaving you are not giving in - you are taking control of your life back and deciding to move to a workplace that is more supportive.

It's a long slow road to get employers to accept and respond effectively to workplace bullying, but as speakers, trainers, advocates - we have to never give up making sure that little by little, legislation is developed that help workers confront the bullies.

Linda Guirey
Professional Speaker and Trainer
The 'Marbles' Expert

Psychopathically Insure Bosses
by: Trinity

It's common for bosses to bully when they feel threatened. My boss targetted me when I told her that I was enrolled to do an MBA, I was fired for 'poor work performance' the day my course started. There had been no mention of poor work performance during my entire time at that job so I was shocked. I've developed PTSD complicated by anxiety, depression and a (rational) phobia of returning to the workplace. It has been almost six months and I will never be able to work again. Workers comp are doing their investigation right now. Good luck mate.

I had the same experience
by: Anonymous

I am sorry to hear that you have been bullied. I went through same situation 5 years ago. My manager treated me very badly on the last day of my job. I was scarred and did not apply for a job for the next 2 years. Then I applied for a job in another restaurant and was badly treated by my manager during training. I cried alot and its been 5 years I am not able to join work force. I have lost confidence and think that I can never work. By the way I have a degree from university now but dont want to work as I have lost confidence.

Be careful after you leave a bullying work experience
by: Anonymous

Sometimes, after we leave a bullying/micromanaging work experience orchestrated by a very insecure boss, we tend to get desperate for work and ignore the same signs at the interview for the next job. Guess how I know that.

When you finally get your balance back after being in a severe bullying work experience be on guard when you go to the next interview. Ignoring obvious signs how the new company treats applicants and potential employees can be a tell-tale sign about the rest of your work experience.

Suggest: politely and professionally, just say "NO" and keep your feet moving onto other job opportunities. If you don't, you will wish you did. Guess how I know that one, too?

by: Anonymous


Thing is...
by: Anonymous

people higher up like to turn a blind eye because they don't know how to deal with it. As long as there are numbers and figures where they should be then nothing else matters. Unfortunately the world would be a better place if people cared about getting results the same as getting results and treating people with respect. Even in powerful positions people feel threatened, and the reason they feel threatened is because they don't believe in themselves and they project that onto others

Ups and downs
by: Anonymous

My CEO sends emails to co workers which are insulting. Rather than give direction he/she often ponders the decision whe there your skill set is valid. The work group produces in consistent fashion but sometimes the same action that landed acclaim is criticized the next day. They employ weaker employee to report on office goings-on when they haphazardly attend work.

Insecure, paranoid boss
by: Anonymous

My boss is insecure, paranoid and abusive. He kept employees isolated from each other and from talking to the main office. He instigated employees to work against each other and threatened each employee to keep to him or herself or get in trouble. He would set up a situation where a small disagreement was made into a big issue. He'd call 3 employees in the office. Two would be together on the issue and the other was made to defend him or herself against something so crazy it's indefensible. These sessions deteriorated to the point that the one person was verbally abused by the boss in front of the two co-workers. He'd micromanage the employees, especially when he was worried they might complain about him. He was paranoid if he saw two employees talking and would call one into the office to ask what they were talking about and warn that it's trouble talking to the other person. He heaped work on me, then bullied me into working overtime for free and working through lunch with threats and demeaning verbal abuse. When I signed up for training classes to advance, he didn't sign the paperwork so it was never approved by the main office. When the section had a get together, I talked casually with someone from the main office. Later that day, I was interrogated by the boss wanting to know exactly what was said between us. Finally, after over 10 years of abuse from this boss, I complained. Things are better. The boss is still angry. He is not able to bully and abuse employees like before. People are quick to complain now and are documenting everything. The main office, now aware, is helping.

Boss Complains When I Do Extra Work
by: Anonymous

Believe it or not, my supervisor has an issue when I do EXTRA work. I am a worker that likes to take on special projects, the kind that will give me an opportunity to use what special skills I have and gain new ones; all while helping other coworkers or departments. This is something that I feel adds value to my employment, opens the door for future opportunities and generally makes me feel great to help others. Only problem is that suddenly, my supervisor has taken resentment to it. I had noticed this when I first started working for them, and made sure that they received some sort of credit, you know, to make them look good too. But lately my supervisor has taken to making issue of the extra work, as if there was something pressing that I should be doing for our particular area -- and there isn't. In addition, my work has been noticed and additional opportunities came about to take on a task that I am completely competent to do, but would require me learning something that my supervisor would also like to learn. That is when things turned bad. My supervisor doesn't really like being a manager, but truly likes the work itself, and is afraid of losing their skills. When someone from another area approached my supervisor about having me trained to do the work and learn the new skills, my supervisor gave the opportunity to another person in our team (a true friend of theirs, after work beer buddy). I am very upset about this. Had my ability and desire to do the work not been recognized from the person that recommended me, it would not even been passed to our team. I feel that what I had worked for was blatantly given to someone else just to keep me 'in my place'. I even heard my supervisor tell the person they were giving the opportunity to say that they had to 'push back on that one'. Wow!! I feel that is incredibly uncalled for and not anything I would call true leadership. Needless to say, I no longer have respect for my supervisor and am now looking for other opportunities, which I feel my supervisor would like, simply because they could take on my workload, therefore adding to their skill set. I have read other advice from blogs which include my current situation, saying how I should 'keep them in the loop on all things' and 'boost their ego to defuse the situation'. I've done that to no avail and although I continue to secretly no longer respect them, I do not let them know I feel that way and I continue to work just as I have without any gossip or bad words. However, this is where I draw the line. I will not allow them to continue in any way receive credit for my work or efforts if the feeling isn't mutual. My work is my work, good or bad, and I accept the results from that. My supervisor should do the same.

Some Thoughts
by: Anonymous

I work for a guy like this. Everything I do gets torn up. At one point I was going home completely uncertain that I still knew how to tie my shoes and drive a car. And I really mean what I said about "EVERYTHING". I was uncertain as to which way is up.

None of us are perfect, we all have flaws, make mistakes, etc., and they weaponize them against you. It's a really terrible place to be.

There are times too where I would catch myself rationalizing, "hey, he's just trying to do things right", "these are complicated issues", "he works really hard", etc. I realized that I was sounding a lot like someone abused by their spouse thinking, "we'll they only do it because they care", something they'll even go so far as to say to you.

But, the pure unvarnished truth is that you can't change them. They won't change, and if they do, it won't be because of something you did. You can, maybe, minimize their direct influence, as I've had minor success with, but the real answer is to get a new job. Get away from them as soon as you can.

Thank you for your story.

Pushed out by cliquey management team
by: Anonymous

I ended up starting my own company in the end and it's been the best decision I've ever made.

Before I took this route I repeatedly heard CEOs talk about how stressful running your own business can be compared to regular employment. But I think for those of us who have been bullied, manipulated, lied to, and treated like worthless trash in the workplace, going it alone can be incredibly calming!

I was lucky to have a pretty good run before my last job. I've always got on really well with everyone in my team and never had any issues. I'll admit I sometimes found it difficult to believe people when they talked about the effects (like panic attacks, agorophobia, heart problems, severe depression, etc) that being bullied at work left them with. Then it happened to me and I now completely understand.

I had 4 people involved in my situation:

A very weak, passive aggressive, easily manipulated CEO with mummy issues that wanted an affair to get back at his wife and was annoyed when I found out he was married and he realised he wasn't going to get what he wanted. After openly flirting, getting jealous when I praised other colleagues in front of him, and acting like I was the best thing since sliced bread, he then did a complete 180 and started cancelling meetings so I was kept out of the loop, going on about other women looking good then staring at me and asking if I was planning to go to the gym (despite me losing a ton of weight), acting as if I had been the one chasing him and saying stuff to humiliate me in front of the entire team, constantly changing the goalposts of my job (at one point I was covering 4 roles at once), and acting as if I was wasting his time when I made an effort to be friendly. When I first joined he complained that he was tired of being the one making decisions all the time and didn't want 'yes men' around him. Then at the end he was going behind my back to sack my employees with the excuse that I might have disagreed with his decision! Just nasty, passive aggressive crap like that, so whatever I did it felt like I was always wrong. I assume he was hoping if he kept treating me like that then I would quit and he wouldn't have to worry about the wife finding out what he'd done.

The gold-digger wife of the above CEO who openly admitted to us that she married for money, never shut up bitching about him (and everyone else), was annoyed he wasn't making more as she didn't want to get a job, and asked myself and another employee to let her know if we knew any other guys she could hook up with. She later changed her mind when she thought the CEO was going to sell one of his companies and get more cash and I guess was keen to get rid of the two employees that she had asked to help her cheat. Once I had been kicked out, she stalked me on social media for several months until I blocked her. I don't know if she thought I was after his money like her (which would have been stupid, as I'm pretty sure I'm wealthier than the CEO), but for whatever reason she viewed me as a threat.

A control freak senior manager who had been there a few months longer than me, who was on very good terms with the CEO, and therefore thought it was fine to gatecrash meetings I held with my own team, complain that I wasn't doing my job the way she would have done it (despite her finding it too stressful when she did cover the role), would spend half the day gossiping with other employees then make comments about me to the CEO, and continued to act like she was managing my staff (which undermined me and confused them, as they started giving her any important information/updates instead of me). Weirdly, she also created this fictional villain caricature of me (based on the fact that she apparently found me scary and intimidating) and then spoke to and treated me as if I was that person and got the CEO to do the same. That was the worst part, as I would get asked questions and then they would act really surprised/confused when I didn't respond like they expected me to. She viewed me as a threat and incorrectly assumed I was after her job and therefore wanted me gone.

The last guy I got on with ok for the most part as he was always friendly and honest with me, but he was a bit of a suck up so went along with whatever the CEO and senior manager said. He had a crush on the CEO's wife and wanted to keep his job (fair enough) and I imagine was happy to side with the above clique rather than rock the boat. By the end of my time there, he was joining in on the passive aggressive stuff and leaving me until last in meetings so I either had to interrupt and look rude or wait until everyone else had given updates and either repeat things and waste people's time or look as if I had nothing extra of value to add.

It got really demoralising to work there, despite the rest of the team being lovely. I tried getting a new job, but then lockdown happened and the companies I was talking to stopped hiring. I was then stuck there getting more and more depressed until the CEO kicked me out a few months later. I didn't bother arguing, as I was so stressed out by that point and was just happy to escape. I had a seizure a few weeks later where my blood pressure was through the roof, which caused heammorhaging in my eyes/nose, short term memory loss (that didn't recover for several months), heart issues (that I'll likely have to take medication for indefinitely) and the same things that everyone else talks about (panic attacks, agoraphobia, severe depression, etc). I'm mostly angry at myself for letting people treat me that way and not standing up to them. I've always hated being dragged into drama, but obviously when faced with that kind of treatment sometimes you need to retaliate in order to defend yourself.

I was lucky enough to already have a hobby business that I'd set up as a fun side project a few years before. So once I was physically healed and I'd had a load of therapy, I started to expand that. It's been slow progress, as to begin with I wasn't in the best state to be building up a company. But my team are brilliant and they know I will never treat them like the above. They are all very honest, friendly, open people and no one gossips or tries to backstab anyone else. In return I do everything I can to make them feel respected and valued and they seem to respond really well to that.

In some ways I'm glad I experienced what I did, as now I am acutely aware of how a bad leader can destroy someone if they want to. Luckily (?), I've gone through far more extreme abuse in the past outside of work and I have extensive practice in rebuilding myself from scratch. But I'm aware that not everyone would be able to bounce back from that. In that sense it was a very useful experience in how not to run a company.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Workplace Bullying Stories.

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.