Today I had to soothe a frightened, disempowered woman I mentor externally into a calm and productive state again. A capable, hard-working, conscientious woman crumpled into a shaking, teary wisp of herself. The cause of her upset? An accusatory, angry chastisement from her boss. She had done no wrong. In fact it was he who had errored! But in his insecure, confused realisation of his mistake he needed a scapegoat – who better than a subordinate, eh! Apparently he shouted, ranted, pointed, accused and humiliated the poor woman. The more she attempted to defend herself the angrier he became. The ensuing result, her apologetic, embarrassed and quivering, a shadow of her vibrant self. 30 mins crying on the phone to me from a private office whilst she composed herself. Then later at my behest a meeting with her HR team to report the issue.

It’s a cliché

It deeply pains me to see this sort of behaviour still happening in modern workplaces. Especially examples such as this. The clichéd older man and younger woman scenario. The masculine hierarchically superior figure dominating the feminine, emotional, junior prey. She didn’t stand a chance.

NB For this article I will refer to the antagonist as male, but please note I am against any form of unkind, aggressive employee abuse from male or female leaders.

How can it be that with all our shifts into our European human rights legislation protecting employees (so far that SMEs struggle with a rise in litigation that often threaten business closure), these ‘subtle’ yet deeply wounding moments occur with all too virulent commonality every single day in offices around the UK.

Where is the company handbook that cites ‘aggressive’ behaviour as intolerable? Or indeed even includes a definition of aggressive. There’s a delicately blurred line between assertive and aggressive. There’s no blurred line between respect and humiliation however and it’s when assertiveness crosses the boundary into disrespect and a verbal attack that it is inexcusable aggression. Where is the legislation to protect employees from that subtle form of victimisation?

It’s unfathomable that they get away with it but sad fact

I’ve seen employees marched off the premises for being drunk on a client call, heard tales of after hours unauthorised office orgies (truly!!), seen numerous men sacked for sexual harassment cases and yet time and time again I hear of and have witnessed across my decades in corporate realms aggressive male leaders behaving abominably towards underlings, wielding their power destructively and getting away with it. This applies to both male and female underlings for the record. There’s no consequence for these low EQ execs as they’re not being supervised themselves so they can rule the domain however they choose, and hey if they’re driving business results, who’s measuring staff happiness over and above net profits? No-one. Money it seems always talks.

Detrimental impact on staff wellbeing

The impact on wellbieng is of course well documented. Employees fear termination, lose confidence in their abilities. Repeated, unexpected verbal torrents impact staff health with insomnia and weakened immune systems common stress manifestations. A general culture of fear abounds. In effect the aggressive powerful leader at the top of the tree has thwarted a potentially higher performing workforce by behaving insensitively and I’ll go as far as to say inhumanely. Logic dictates this is downright inexcusable. And yet it is excused over and over again.

So, what can we do about it?

For the frightened employee there are several things to do in the heat of the moment.

  1. Treat the raging boss like a tantrumming toddler. Know his irrational, high frequency outburst stems from a place of fear and panic in his own frightened heart.
  2. Say calm, composed and loving.
  3. Show empathy and understanding for the suffering the demented boss is going through.
  4. Do not defend or attempt to excuse the situation as this will only inflame the crazed one further.
  5. In a calm and level voice, ideally eye to eye, state what you are going to do next to move the situation into a positive one. Keep repeating this until he is soothed that you’ve moved out of the crisis into progressive resolution.
  6. Apologise again calmly and state how it will never happen again (even though you both know it wasn’t your fault in the first place).

Of course all of this is total utter baloney but it will give the ego-centric one his power fix and gets you away from the firing line quickest. (With a toddler you would of course hug them to you close and say “I hear your pain, I love you, I love you, we will now do this”, but I wouldn’t advise hugging your boss right now…)

Next steps

Once out of the firing line you need to take a view on:-

  • Will you file a formal complaint with HR. Did he go too far this time? What are the consequences of you doing this? Pride, integrity, etc or role jeopardy, reputation, and so on.
  • Appraise how much you personally are prepared to tolerate ie is it time to find another place to work? See my earlier blog How to Manage Dis-empowerment in the Workplace.
  • Managing the situation to resolution with your boss by having an open honesty session where you mutually agree optimal ways of working. Do this at a pre-arranged time with a defined agenda and detach emotion from the meeting. Make it wholly about how the two of you can manage each other’s expectations, deliverables and maintain respectful ways of working. It’s okay to say factually that you were upset or hurt by recent incidents, just do not accuse your boss directly otherwise you will risk inflaming him again.

‘Tis a tangled web we weave navigating the different personalities in our work worlds, but these angry and aggressive ones make me the saddest especially when leaders abuse their power and crush beautiful people in the process. I’d love to hear your experiences as I work to transform workplace wellbeing standards across the UK. Please email me privately if this article strikes a chord with you.

Originally published at


  • Bianca Best

    Flourish with Bianca Best – writer, entrepreneur and manifestor dedicated to ensuring your life glistens with the work, love and vitality you desire.


    Hey! I'm Bianca! A writer, entrepreneur, mother and unshakeable optimist passionately devoted to ensuring your life glistens with the work, love and vitality you desire. Born with big dreams, a strong work ethic and fervent belief that life holds no limits, I’ve discovered how to unlock human potential.  Through my transformational ESCAPE™ programme, coaching, books, online courses, BB-TV, workshops, keynotes and retreats, I stratospherically catapult gifted individuals like you into the place you’re meant to be. I’m honoured to be a best-selling author and to work with leaders from Amazon to Snapchat, and to have personally learned wisdom first-hand from gurus such as Arianna Huffington. Blessed with abundance, I cherish 4 rapidly growing children, 3 businesses, and 1 English country home which is my creative and spiritual sanctuary. My life’s work represents a chronology of passions explored. From writing, to entrepreneurialism, to corporate leadership, to tech firsts, I’ve experimented, learned, grafted and always savoured the journey as much as the destination. Practice what you want to grow I’m fascinated by neuroplasticity and our ability to build skills that progressively enable us to achieve goals faster and easier. When we respect that life is about choices and consequences and choose concentrated cognitive focus, dreams become reality pretty quickly. Blend awareness of limiting beliefs, value systems, habits and behaviours with a personal definition of success, and you’ll strike gold.  The moment I clarify a goal (and I mean intricately define that tantalising something which has stimulated every cell in my body), and organise my habits, attitude and behaviour to thrust onwards towards it, giving it my unwavering attention, then life clicks into beautiful flow. I want this for you too! First Entrepreneurial Forays Coincided with 4 Baby Bests! After simultaneously blending a freelance writing career with exploratory post-grad advertising agency roles and stints as a presenter, I launched my first business in 2004 taking my creativity and resilience to new heights as I served global customers with a pioneering digital personalised gift company. I enjoyed an exhilarating decade learning that with the right focus, energy and vision anything and everything is possible. By the time I sold this business I’d welcomed 4 mini Bests confidently into the world too, including baby twins. What an unexpected (and time-management!) twist they gave to entrepreneurialism! I definitely live by the mantra “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” (and ironically still reflect on that first year juggling 4 children under 7 whilst expanding my company into an omni-channel franchise one of my most purposeful and joyful ever!)! Corporate Leadership Rigour I see life as a great big, fun experiment and every experience a moment of potential growth. With ‘intra-preneurialism’ now being invited into traditional business realms, I couldn’t resist a global leadership role in a large-scale corporate behemoth fusing my entrepreneurial passions with a legacy world. A truly invigorating opportunity! I’ve thus since set up a third millennium consultancy within WPP partnering with global brands such as Mars, CocaCola, Sony and Uber to accelerate digital transformation agendas amidst the volatility of today’s marketing landscapes. To say I love this work is an understatement, plus the output agendas and relationship dynamics all simultaneously add brilliant new depths to my coaching practice. Escaping the Whirlwind Decades back I suffered immune collapse repeatedly along my undulating, endlessly busy path and in June 2019 the World Health Organisation classified Burnout as a global epidemic. Too many of us have been, or are being, buffeted by life’s whirlwind at the expense of our mental and physical wellbeing. I created my science-based ESCAPE™ programme to combat exactly this. Through six powerful pillars I blend my certifications in coaching, hypnotherapy and NLP with my life experiences to empower ambitious individuals like you to thrive. It is possible to maximise impact without burnout and I show you how to respect your individuality and flourish. Which Brings Me To You Whether you feel stuck in a corporate rut, trapped in an unhappy relationship, constantly exhausted, overwhelmed by the sheer pace of modern life, frustrated by slow business growth, or beguiled by which way to turn next, I can get you moving, shining and smiling again. I’ll share every one of the mistakes I’ve made as I’ve fumbled and grappled and tripped my way through this game called life. Equally, I’ll share the ways I’ve succeeded in realising my own dreams and solving my own problems. It would be my honour to hold your hand through your next chapter and make that vibrant vision I know you hold in your heart a sparkly reality. I’ll give you the confidence to make decisions that are utterly transformational. You will up-level your life and become exactly who you’re meant to be. Let’s have fun together and make now the time you unleash your very best self!! Here’s to your future filled with the love, work and vitality you absolutely deserve! Lovingly yours, Bianca x