General chatter - I need thicker skin at work. How to toughen up??

04-07-2011, 11:39 PM
I recently got into a huge confrontation at work that turned in to a yelling match between the boss and myself (he's a big freaking five year old, and he's the worst example of an adult I could ever imagine, anyway, but that's entirely not the point) because he essentially had a tantrum, and just completely ripped me apart (degrading, demoralizing, completely patronizing, you get the idea - because he wanted things his way, and he was flat out wrong).

I'm working as a nanny, and it's this mans wife whom I actually deal with all day and who totally wears every single pair of pants in that house (the hubby is a freaking joke). I called the wife, sobbing, saying I was absolutely not okay with being treated like that when I was simply trying to do things exactly how she'd JUST told me how to do them, and she apologized, conference called hubby, made him / mediated with him while he apologized, and she begged me to reconsider giving my two weeks notice, which I told her I was prepared to do, because she loves me. And they both said I shouldn't take it personally because hubby is just a giant jerk, and I said, I'm sorry but I take people treating me like crap personally because it IS personal, and being a giant jerk isn't a good enough excuse for me having to just put up with it.

So now, not only do I need to consider what I'm going to do about my job situation - but I also realize that I SERIOUSLY need to man up when it comes to confrontation with bosses/co-workers/authority figures and not cry like a big hormonal girl (which I totally am, hello TOM) which completely devalues any opinion I have, and is entirely counterproductive to what I want.

How do you grow thicker skin, chicks :( What am I doing wrong? How do I fix it?

04-07-2011, 11:49 PM
@Eskinomad, just know that you are WORTH not being bullied around. You don't deserve it! Just because this guy is a doesn't mean that he is allowed to treat you that way.
Calmly state your point, and if it can't be a discussion, then tell him(or her) that you aren't putting up with it and walk away. It's best to discuss touchy matters when both people are ready to discuss in an intelligent (calm!) way.

I'm sorry you had to go through that... it's not your fault.

04-08-2011, 12:44 AM
IGLOOGIRL my daughter deals with jerks all the time as a private scientist/supervisor working for the government.

Several years ago she used to be in tears, calling me daily on how to deal with them as she was not used to this in her daily upbringing....I continually told her to not waver from her beliefs and abilities and to stand firm and no backing down allowed!....same lessons we dealt with throug tennis!

bottom line....she continues to have struggles with climbing that "ladder" and received another 18% pay raise last week on a very sweet income.

Be yourself and be strong! HUGS!

04-08-2011, 07:38 AM
I love how you could throw a little humor into your story, "big freaking 5 year old", funny.

I have to say I probably would have handled that the same way you did, when I was a little younger (I'm now fully middle-aged). You already know he was the one that was out of line, you were right, etc. For me, the problem was always dealing with something that totally came out of left field. When someone comes at you, unexpectedly, and angry on top of it, it's really hard to have time to gather your thoughts and react rationally with a totally irrational situation. Fact is, in his state, he probably would have seen it as more cause to argue anyway. And, you are talking about your job, that's a big deal.

I think with age you get thicker skin, idiots look more like the idiots they are. And, there are big freaking 5 year olds everywhere, lol. ;)

04-08-2011, 08:06 AM
The only thing that thickened my skin was, unfortunately, putting up with more of it. You get to a point where it doesn't bother you anymore and I find that's when people stop acting like jerks because they know they can't get to you. Just remember that they're the jerk here, you're just the nearest person they can take their grump out on :hug:

04-08-2011, 11:25 AM
If he acts like that to you, he might act out with his kids also.
If you ever see him abuse the children, make sure to report the incident to child protective services. Then to his wife.
Call the police immediatly if he harms a child.
He needs to be held accountable for his poor behavior.
The state will arrange counseling for him.

04-08-2011, 11:51 AM
You know, I think it's really, really tough when you have more than one boss. When I was younger I had a little fruit market job and worked for a woman and her two adult sons. It became too many demands, too many things to do, do many "you're great", "you're not good enough"; When it came to the "You're good enough to do more but we never give more than minimum wage" I gave my notice.

It must be hard for man who has a lot of things in his life out of his control. I guess, if I were you, I'd be preparing firm and absolute answers in my head.

Is he home while you're working? You've now made it clear you're unhappy, it should go better now if they value you.

04-08-2011, 11:59 AM
The problem is he is the boss or thinks he is. The boss , like the customer is always right, even when he is not. Remember he signs the paycheck. When it comes right down to it the wife will agree with her husband before you.If I were you I would continue to do my job as well as I could but I would quetly be looking for a new employer.

04-08-2011, 01:27 PM
I agree with bargoo.. Start looking for another job because if his wife has to pick sides, she will pick her husband's side over you. And for all you know, she might be quietly looking for another nanny, and saying "you are great, please stay" only till she finds someone else to replace you.

Although I have never had to deal with a belligerent man at work so far, I have to deal with a lot of men who give me crap because I am a female working in a very male dominated industry. I have had to deal with comments such as "You only got the scholarship because you are minority", or "Of course you got the job/promotion because you are female", nevermind that I actually worked really really hard to get where I am today.

At work, you will be labelled as an "emo b!tch" if you fight back or argue, which is very detrimental to your career. So the best way to deal with any difficult co-worker/boss is to enforce boundaries firmly but gently (men can be such babies if their ego get bruised) and not engage into an argument or a shouting match at the same time. My usual responses to unsavory comments or behavior are "oh wow, I am not going to dignify that with a reply" or "That was a very inappropriate thing to say/do" or "I am sorry you feel that way". This way I am enforcing boundaries, and at the same time I disengaging from a potentially explosive conversation.

The one time I had to deal with a belligerent person was many years ago with my aunt.. she started going off on me in front of my other family members and I turned to her politely and said "Please do not talk to me in that tone". When I said that, she started sputtering because she knew that she would just look like an idiot if she said anything more. When people start ranting and yelling, there is no way you can talk sense into them... So don't even bother yelling back, it is useless.

04-08-2011, 01:34 PM
Okay first off there is a difference between confrontation and taking a little criticism about the way you are doing your job then being in a downright full out screaming match and degraded. Totally not professional I don’t care where you work. I would suggest looking for a better opportunity and once you get that then quit. Tougher skin is needed when you deal with a boss who constantly tells corrects you to fix the job you are doing, but that boss isn’t screaming at you, degrading you and bullying you around. He’s simply telling you to straighten up. Your boss is just an As$hole and I think his wife needs to put him in his place to remember who wears the pants in that relationship.

04-08-2011, 01:51 PM
A general rule of thumb to keep in mind:

The more emotional they become during the confrontation, the more unemotionally you should respond.

You need to perform the wrenching transition of ignoring the anger & pain flushing through you, disengaging emotionally & reverting to an almost robotic correctness.

Delay tactics are your friend here. Explosions tend to happen in the moment because of a lot of things suddenly colliding & someone reacting spontaneously, with the reptile brain (or the attitude of a five-year-old).

"We need to discuss this later." (That is, when you've recovered & become a rational adult again.)

I would also be looking for a new job. Like, right now. If the husband has an anger management problem, this will be a recurrent experience. (And maybe it already has been, since you think of him as a five-year-old, probably based on other interactions with him.) The thing is, your job is so very personal. You're a quasi family member. And yet, you're very much not; you're an employee. That tends to be an inherently conflict-filled situation. It's very dependent on your employers' feelings about you & their perception of you. If their feelings are dissatisfied, and their perception is dark (never mind the reality, we're talking about their perception) they will not make you happy & they will make you feel it constantly in innumerable small, subtle ways. And when that happens, a job becomes ****. You will dread going to work every day. You'll be miserable on most weekdays. So get out of that situation as soon as you can, for the sake of your peace of mind.