Don’t talk back to your boss.

Not even that one. The one who deserves it. I’m not convinced we need actual research on this – if your boss is bad enough that you want be abusive right back in their stinking face then they are also bad enough to fire you for it – but Harvard Business Review has looked into it.

It was a quiet day.

But there are figures that suggest maybe there are times when you should bite back and then there are figures that say nooooo. I expect those latter figure are chiefly unemployment statistics but if you’re having trouble with a manager or an important client, take a read and let it out.

The alternative hypothesis [to previous studies] that would maybe help us explain why people are hostile toward a hostile boss — we called it the buffering hypothesis in this study — is the idea that if you reciprocate your boss’s hostility, it will actually make things a little bit better and you will feel more satisfied, or not as depressed and psychologically harmed.

Our reasoning behind that second hypothesis is that if you reciprocate a boss’s hostility, you are less likely to feel like a victim. Now, we had never studied the idea that a person would report that they feel like they are a victim when their boss is hostile, but it seemed to make some sense.

So maybe if you reciprocate the boss’s hostility, it will make you feel like you are asserting some control over your situation, you are responding in some way, then you will not feel as victimized.

We found a surprising result: although a person is more likely to feel like a victim when their boss is hostile toward them, they are much less likely to feel like a victim when they reciprocate their boss’s hostility.

What Research Shows About Talking Back to a Jerk Boss – Walter Frick, Harvard Business Review (9 April 2015)

Read the full piece.

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