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Sunday, February 5, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The "Big, Bad Boss" apparently not so rare

The Washington Post

Judging from the reader response to a review of Marilyn Haight's book "Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Boss?" really bad bosses are nowhere near as rare as they should be.

Haight's book identifies 13 types of no-good bosses and offers advice on how to handle them. It seems readers have worked for every one of them.

Here are a few of the stories they shared (all spoke on the condition that their last names not be used):

Linda said that at first she loved her job at an agency that provides health care to the mentally ill. She felt everything was going well for three months, until she was asked to help fire one of her employees without a good reason.

It turned out, her new boss was a "Bully," one of Haight's big, bad boss types.

And she didn't get much backup from her equally scared colleagues.

"My co-workers who were aware of how I was treated lived in fear of losing their own jobs," she said.

Instead, they were silent or they just left.

In retrospect, Linda wishes she had left sooner.

"Get out when the situation feels unethical and you are mistreated. Don't wait for things to improve, especially when the 'tyrant' has backup and has been acting like this for years. ... I encourage others to research your boss/agency/company before accepting a position. Take your time, and ask many questions. This can happen to anyone, at any age."

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Christine, who still works for her evil boss, said her experience with a bully has driven her to reconsider her career choice. She said her boss curses constantly, uses racial slurs and puts down women in the office.

He's also a hypocrite, she said. "He is a stickler for rules: one-hour lunch, very limited amounts of leave approved, but openly takes two different lunch breaks a day and recently went on a vacation and took 40 hours of sick leave."

Kathy, who also still works for her bad boss, said her supervisor is all of the bosses Haight describes rolled into one person. His favorite saying, she said, is "I'm a control freak. ... I have to oversee everything."

She said, "Another ploy is to give a direction and then, not 20 minutes later, give an opposing directive. This keeps employees confused. 'Classic Confounder' behavior, according to Haight's system.

Kathy's boss is also a "Pretender." "He's computer illiterate and makes lame excuses like his 'wife broke his e-mail.' "

Thus, he rails at technological advances and balks at updating equipment.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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