My boss asked me to shut up

Jes 20 Comments

It's 2+ years since I got my ideal job as a regional sales manager. What prompted me to leave is not for higher pay or promotion but a big thank you to my boss. He gave me such a disastrous performance appraisal that seriously eroded my confidence for a few days.

I doubted myself, reflected quietly, talked to people and mulled over his words. The one thing I cannot stand and decided to leave is this feedback, in exact words:

Shut up and do not speak out during sales meetings. 

We have been working peacefully for the past years and I do not know what triggered this out roar.  I kept thinking if I have become too proud and not show him enough respect. Too entitled and unable to handle his criticisms. Have I been asking stupid questions?

After speaking to my friends about it, they were more outrageous over his comments than me. Go tell on him to his boss! Scold him! Fire him right away! Write a letter to HR or the CEO!

My guess is that he is targeting me personally, not being happy with me as a person. Slowly, the bits and pieces accumulated, blew up and scorched me. On hindsight, I also realised he is being too unreasonable. What kind of company culture is it if I should not speak out and ask questions? I see others asking questions all the time, what did I do wrong?

The thought that I am not suitable to be in sales has even crossed my mind. I like the job but I cannot accept a boss that does not appreciate my talents and suppresses my speech. Not just that, he also did many things that a boss should not do. I have checked with my other colleagues and they are all quitting for the same reasons:

1) Replying emails on my behalf even though it's addressed to me
2) Meeting my customers behind my back and customers came to inform me about it
3) Calling up my customers to ask them questions when these questions should be answered by me
4) Replying the wrong information to the customers and I had to clean up the mess

Being a boss, he should be respecting my boundaries and not trying to wrestle control away from me. By doing all these micromanaging actions, he sought to undermine my authority and made customers confused about what's going on.

It's time for me to leave. I might be looking for another job until my start up can sustain my expenses.

I would much rather leave this kind of toxic people behind.

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  1. I left my previous job after it became a toxic work environment when my tax partner and tax manager could no longer work together. I was fortunate not to have them turn out like your boss towards me but it's not worth staying in a toxic work environment for anything. Try to see if you can line another job up before you leave though. Would help to give you peace of mind. All the best!

    1. Hi Finance Smiths,

      That's true, toxic people will just burn everyone around them and not retain a professional front. I guess I am at fault too, probably I did not perform up to their expectations. Well, it's a good push towards starting my own business too. Hopefully I will come to thank him for his actions in the future :)

  2. If your boss does the same to almost everyone, then sooner or later it's his turn to ask to leave.

    Of course not if he is the share holder.

    I thought my character make-up not suitable for working for company, never expect a person like your calibre in Saleman ship face such a cruel boss too.
    Maybe there is more than the eyes could see?
    Office politics & and a boss who is feeling in secured?

    1. Hi Temperament,

      He is not the shareholder but with sales booming thanks to Asia market, I think his position is quite stable for these few years. The management team actually knows about his behavior because they asked me to tell him to shut up instead. Hahaha!

      Probably a bit of everything, my fault also la, not just his. Talk to him, he never change, he ask me to change but I don't think I can keep accepting his micro management style. So perhaps a difference in style, no choice. It's ok, I wish him all the best too. My character also quite straight but I think maybe it's just me forcing out the cruel nature from him, haha!

  3. Jes,

    ROLF has been prophetic... (I kept my mouth shut as I didn't know you well then)

    Its partly cultural (let's leave it at that and not go there).

    Then again some weak men need their egos to be massage constantly by their underlings... I guess you were not sychophant enough... Not "prostitute" enough...

    Yup! Its ALL your fault!

    You're a smart girl. I think you know what I mean. You are co-owner of a business yourself.

    Would you hire a person who bitches their former bosses?

    1. Hi Jared,

      Rolf predicted this will happen? I don't remember, oops! Yeah I agree it's cultural difference and I never 'respect' him enough. I do think that it's my fault but I don't think my behavior warrants such a backlash from him!

      I won't hire someone who bitches during their interview, of course. But no matter how bad or under performing the employee is, I won't tell them to Shut up, that's for sure.

      There are 101 ways to communicate and motivate people and you know better than I do that the correct words will actually help things. This is not a bad lesson because I learnt how to not be like him :D

  4. There should be basic manners in the office; whether one is as high as the CEO or as low as the OL or even cleaner. I may be slow and not intelligent. If my boss dares to scold me "stupid, idiot,...", I will use my broken English to fire all the way up. I have nothing much to lose.


    1. Hi Starlight,

      Indeed! I think the most basic manners is to respect other people. Come to think of it, he could have said "For any discussions, let's discuss privately first before you bring them out in the meetings because it might take up others' time." Or something like that. He was not angry with me during the appraisal so he must have already thought through what to say to me. Love your fire in you though, for the right reasons of course!

  5. Hi Jes,

    I admire your courage and straight forward mess. All the best for our future job

    1. Hi SI,

      Hahaha, maybe just foolish and naive but at least no regrets. Thank you for your kind words!

  6. Hi All,

    It's been awhile. :-)

    Jes, maybe it's time to be a housewife?

    1. Hi Rolf,

      Omg, yeah man, you must be busy with your newborn. Housewife life not suitable for me, as tested during maternity months haha! Doing work can be fun with the right people. Thanks for dropping by! :P

  7. Sometimes people behave differently when they feel threatened. Best, but useless, form of approval ever.

    Anyway, if you're available, i could ping you when a position opens up where i am at.

    1. Hi Leopard,

      Well at least that is a good way to get rid of me. Thanks for the consideration towards me. Actually I have no problem in finding a job, as your know there will always be a demand of sales people. My ex-bosses also want me back but I think it's time to try something different and see how it turns out.

      I am deeply humbled and touched by you and so many others' concern and worry for my job and finances and really, can't thank you guys enough!

    2. Wish you good luck and good tailwind for your journeys ahead then.

      Resolute people seldom end up at a dead end.

    3. Thankful of your well wishes and happy to get your support! It's not the end until I am dead, hahaha. You continue to have fun in the chemicals industry!

  8. Oh my. Just leave the job, there are definitely better opportunities out there. No point working for a boss/company that does not knows how to appreciate you. All the best in looking for another job!

    1. Hi KPO,

      Thanks for the encouragement. I know right, how I envy those people with great bosses and colleagues, seems quite impossible to me. Hope you are doing much better than me!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the well-intentioned comments, I understand where you are coming from. Trust me, I have been debating very long on whether to publish this post. Appreciate your kind consideration for me!