Magazine

Miss Conduct

Advice: My jealous boss is trying to sabotage me

Plus, a sister manages to cut her sibling out of mom’s eulogy.

Need advice? Submit questions for Miss Conduct here.

How to handle a sabotaging, jealous boss?

A.S. / Boston

You are so admirably succinct! And I’m sure you speak for many with your question. You can’t change your boss’s character, so your best bet is to try to get away from him or her, and mitigate the damage until you do.

Start looking for another job, but maybe not a “whole-’nother” job. If you like the company you work for, keep an eye out for openings in other departments. Maybe as part of your current responsibilities you could manage to get onto a team or project run by someone else, so that SJB only supervises part of your work.

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In the meantime, invest in your relationships both inside and outside the organization (with customers, vendors, adjacent businesses or organizations). Do favors. Introduce people. Bring skills to the table. Ask intelligent questions. This isn’t about getting a new job — yet — but about shielding your own reputation. If co-workers and clients know you to be efficient, empathetic, and insightful, then the words of a sniping wannabe will be treated as they deserve.

Document! Keep records of your objective achievements, copies of e-mails, notes of interactions. Chances are, you’ll never need this for a court of law, though it may come in handy at a performance review. The purpose, though, is to help you keep your head on straight when the JB starts in with the sabotage. People like this love to gaslight: Your own written evidence is the best defense if you start doubting yourself.

Finally, read or watch stories about people who handle themselves well in bad professional or social circumstances. They can give you a model for moments in which you find yourself flustered or defensive. I find “Jane Eyre” inspiring as all get-out on that score, personally. Or you can try “Mad Men” — all that nicotine-fueled coolness under pressure can be bracing.

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My sister asked her husband to give the eulogy for our mother. I was not asked who should deliver the eulogy. In his eulogy, my brother-in-law did not mention me at all. It was like my sister was an only child. Do I ask him why? It has been over a year.

L.A. / Easton

I’m sorry this happened to you! Yes, this is the kind of thing about which you speak up, even if time has passed. For one thing, if your father is still alive, the family will have to deal with this again. (If he’s not, and that funeral was conducted in a more equal fashion between you and your sister, what changed?) There’s some kind of disconnect between you and your sister, and as the older generation passes, it would be nice to strengthen the bonds that remain.

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So don’t just speak to your brother-in-law. If you’re going to ask why you were so left out of the ceremony, ask both of them. Why didn’t your sister consult you or ask you to give the eulogy, if she did not wish to give one herself? It seems reasonable to assume, as well, that she had heavy influence over the content of the eulogy. There’s a kind of odd parallel between your sister ignoring you at the funeral and you ignoring her in your emotional processing thereof, no? What’s up with that, L.A.?

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.