Having a boss that yells at you can create a miserable experience at work. It is often demeaning, and creates a stressful and potentially hostile environment.
So if you find yourself in a situation with a toxic boss that frequently yells at you, you’re probably wondering what to do.
To that end, this article sourced responses from a variety of different career experts to provide their perspectives on how to handle being in a situation with a boss that yells at you. They unpack if a boss is allowed to yell at you, potential harassment implications if they do, and what to do if you find yourself in a situation where a boss yelled at you in public.
Let’s dive in.
Can Your Boss Yell at You in Front of Other Employees?
Most of our career experts expressed a similar sentiment which was that, yes, a boss typically can yet in front of in front of other employees. However, our career experts almost unanimously agreed that it should generally be avoided and that it can create a bad working environment.
Here is what Hanne Wulp from Communication Wise had to say to the question of if your boss can yell at you in front of other employees:
“They can, and if they are looking for a culture in which yelling is the norm: yes. Most company cultures within the US/the West, however, are not looking to establish a culture of yelling. Bosses have more freedom to act as they see fit, and with that comes a responsibility that is at least as big: their behaviors set the tone for how their employees are acting.
When companies carry (implicit or explicit) mission statements/visions as: safety/respect/care for their people etc., bosses cannot yell in front of their employees. It would mean they’re acting against the mission statements of their company, which slowly but steadily will hurt morale.”
Ryan O’Connor, Sales Director, 911EDA, offered a similar take as Hanne to the same question of if a boss can yell at you in front of others:
“Of course! But is it a good idea? Absolutely not. Employees who are comfortable in a positive work environment with an empathetic boss will always be more productive than employees who fear being yelled at publicly. Being yelled at publicly only serves to cause embarrassment, shame, and likely anger.
A boss should be a leader and a mentor. A good leader does not lead in the way that best suits him or her, but rather leads in the manner which supports the employee in the best way possible and sets them up for success.
A good leader is empathetic because he or she has likely been in the same situation as the employee. This allows the leader to coach and mentor the employee on how to best work through the situation and results in a positive learning experience. Employees do not thrive in a hostile work environment, they thrive in an environment where they have a purpose, goals, and support of their management.”
Is A Manager Yelling at Employees Considered Harassment?
New York State has some of the laws most protective of employees when it comes to discrimination, which includes harassment. Yet even in NY a single incident of yelling at an employee in front of other employees is probably insufficient evidence of unlawful harassment. There are situations where bosses might be justified in yelling at an employee. For example, they might yell at someone to stop them from doing something dangerous. Bosses might also yell back at employees who are yelling. After all, bosses are human, too.
When we analyze allegations of discriminatory harassment, we consider the context. Yelling alone is not illegal. However, if a boss regularly singles out the only woman or people of particular races, ethnicities, gender identities, or religions, we will typically scrutinize the behavior. We look for patterns and evidence that suggest unlawful conduct, such as: inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment based on the employee’s membership in a protected class.
The above content was provided by Nance L. Schick, Employment Attorney & Mediator, Third Ear Conflict Resolution.
Other experts also suggested that yelling could be considered harassment if it is personal in nature and goes beyond the focus of the work issue itself.
What to Do if Your Boss Yells at You in Front of Others?
It depends if you value the position and the relationship long term or not. I recommend having a 1:1 conversation with the boss and asking why he felt the need to yell in front of everyone. If this is something you want to fix then some tough conversations are going to be needed.
If you don’t get the answers you want then you’ll have to decide if this is someone you want to work for or not. Oftentimes employees stick around with an incompatible boss when really they should just leave.
If they ever come close to crossing the line I recommend getting HR’s advice. You’d be surprised at how many times the company will evaluate the two, knowing that one has to go and oftentimes the yelling boss may get the boot.
The above content was provided by Greg Kuchcik, VP of HR, SPHR.
Getting yelled at by your boss in front of other employees can be a difficult and demeaning situation. It can make you feel hurt, stressed, and even incompetent.
Bosses are human, and do sometimes lose their temper and yell. However, if it’s a consistent pattern of behavior, a difficult conversation might need to be had, or you may need to explore other opportunities in better workplace cultures.