What's your Problem?

I want to leave my bullying boss - but I'm not sure I can afford to...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: I was recently offered a job, which I accepted, as I desperately wanted to leave my current post because of a line manager who was bullying me. Then I discovered that the pay for the new job was less than they had told me at the interview. So I turned down the offer and stayed with my old job. That was two months ago now, and the bullying is worse than ever. My partner has been supportive and I do want to find a new job, but I'm worried about our finances. I've recently been signed off sick again, due to stress. The only things that keep me at my desk are the clients and supportive colleagues. What should I do?

A: Bullying is vile. It also seems to be disturbingly common. And one of its most insidious effects is this: it leaves its victims feeling in some undefinable sense responsible for their own victimisation. Bullied people, though knowing it not to be true, somehow believe themselves to be the ones at fault.

In your case, it has clearly got to your confidence. The fact that you're off work with stress almost certainly means that you'll find it even harder than usual to make difficult decisions. And so your problem compounds itself.

There are many books and helpful websites devoted to bullying, and I certainly wouldn't dissuade you from studying them. But I honestly believe that in your case, your best course of action is to make up your mind to move.

Please don't see this as defeat: it's not. This is you taking charge of your own life. Make a mental list of known facts. You know your job and like it: you're good at it. You like clients. The last time you applied for a job, you got it; only the fact that they misled you over money made you turn it down. There is therefore every reason to believe that you can apply for other jobs with confidence.

Your worry about finances is in part a symptom of your general low morale. Feeling low is contagious: it affects everything. The glass is half-empty, never half-full. But it's quite extraordinary the effect that a single, determined action can have on self-confidence.

Tell yourself, and your supportive partner, that you're going to get a new job, and at a better salary - and by the end of October. I bet you do it.

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