View Full Version : This is a rant- need to unload. No advice really needed.

3-29-11, 2:16pm
I was unemployed for a long time. An acquaintance contacted me a few months ago for a contracting gig which I do from home. This aspect is very sweet, and I am very grateful to be earning income.

The person I'm working directly for (which is not the end client) has very strong preferences. He's been a consultant for a long time, and I've not done this before, so I'm willing to listen and do things in a different way from the way I've done them as an employee/manager.

However, he has to comment on simply everything. Always like I'm a recalcitrant teenager, with that "I'm so disappointed in you" tone. For every one thing I do right, I get 10 negative comments, and this is not an exaggeration. It would be one thing if he let me know of his preferences ahead of time, so I could deliver things in the way he wants, but he won't. So its always trial and error, and I feel I'm just not measuring up to his expectations.

As an example, he asked me to create a particular spreadsheet. I was unclear on exactly what level of detail he was looking for, so I told him I would work on it for a day, and get his feedback on the content. When I sent it to him, I again said I was looking for feedback on the content for the right level. What does he give me for feedback? That he wants different column heading, and larger fonts and underlining. IT WASN'T DONE YET- I save the "making pretty" part for when I'm confident the contents aren't going to dramatically change. Even though I told him twice, both in writing (for me) and in voice (his preference), he still didn't hear me.

I'm just a little resentful with the tone that I'm an idiot, or intentionally not doing my best work. I'm doing what has worked for me in the past. Granted it was in a different context than I am in now, but I'm not just pulling these things out of the air. When I explain why I've done something the way I did, he understands and backs down, but I think it may come across as defensive.

There's a style issue as well. He hates email, loves the phone, where I am the opposite. When I have to contact someone new, I prefer to send a quick email before calling so the person has heard of me and has some idea of why I'm calling. He likes to call first. He has to talk things over and over- 45 minute phone calls are the norm. I'm a just the facts person. I am more content driven, where he is big on colored and pretty charts and graphs. He is, after all, a consultant. I understand that his clients may like those things.

I don't have an issue with doing things differently from my usual style. Its just style after all and I can adapt. I'm annoyed because his first reaction is that other styles are not also valid. I'm also annoyed for getting criticized for the exact same things that he does, only he doesn't see in himself.

But suck it up I do. He normally works alone. He isn't going to change. And its his company, he doesn't have to. So I will stick it out for the duration of this contract. But consulting is so not me. Or at least the way he does it.

3-29-11, 2:25pm
Is he working through learning the process of how to work with others?

3-29-11, 3:14pm

One thing I find really amusing is how nicely he treats clients, how he's so careful in his words and his tone and completely a different person than the one I deal with day to day. Its like he expects me to be in his head, and do and say things exactly the way he would, and he's both surprised and exasperated when I don't.

The other day, he told me I needed to be more didactic. I didn't know the exact meaning of that word, so I looked it up and found this definition:

fond of instructing or advising others: tending to give instruction or advice, even when it is not welcome or not needed
inclined to teach or lecture others too much: a boring, didactic speaker.
pedantic, preachy, donnish, pedagogic

I'm thinking when I read this, oh, you want me to be just like YOU. :devil:

3-29-11, 4:54pm
I had a boss from hell who was very similar -- would never give detailed guidance about what he wanted, and then would nitpick the end results to find fault with as many things as he could. It is extremely demoralizing and I feel your pain! He was also a phone person, and would conveniently forget or misremember large parts of our phone conversations. As a self-defense mechanism, I started recapping EVERY SINGLE PHONE CONVERSATION with an email follow-up, sent minutes after we ended the call, stating the key points we discussed, what was agreed, what my follow-up was going to be and when I would get back to him by, and what kind of feedback I needed from him. When I sent him stuff, I would do it as a response to that original message, so that what was discussed/agreed upon in advance was always right there. Saved my butt a number of times.

It may also be that as much as he needs/wants your help, he feels threatened by you. If you are good at what you do, he may fear you will eventually strike out on your own and take some of his clients away. In my case, I think my horrible boss always knew that I could do his job much better than he could -- though I never wanted it. I think his undermining behavior was a way of trying to make sure I "knew my place" and stayed there.

I don't think you shoudl rule out consulting. YOu just need to find people to work for who appreciate you, and who maybe have a work style that is more similar to you. You can't always work well with people you get along with in other contexts.



Zoe Girl
3-29-11, 9:48pm
great ideas lhamo, that sounds like you really have worked this way.,

I know with my boss from hell who ruined my career I noticed waaay too late that I threatened her. I appeared smarter than her inan early meeting. In any case I think that super covering yourself and having some reasonable confidence in yourself is key. My boss from hell totally was able to do what she did because at the time I had the self esteem of a gnat.

4-6-11, 1:02pm
He wants you to be more didactic? OMG, the guy sounds like a total idiot! The term is pejorative. I'll bet he meant directive, or directed, or something. But he shouldn't be criticizing you anyway, especially not in a general way. "You should be more -- " Ugh!

I agree with the other posters, I think he's insecure.

Seconding advice above that you may not need this guy, once you make some contacts and have relationships under your belt. For now though, I do think that you'd be within your rights to confront him about the things you've mentioned here.

4-6-11, 5:54pm
There are a lot of those bosses out there. My last one before I retired was a female who seemed to hate giving clear directions. She did not even like answering questions and I was her personal assistant in a two person office. I spent a lot of wasted time trying to cover my rear and check every possible source before asking her anything. We even had a loud argument once when she refused to answer a question I had on procedure because "I should have read the email she sent me earlier". I had already looked thru everything for the answer since I did not want to have to talk to her (I rarely asked her for anything). I was furious because this was the last straw and told her quite rudely I would not have asked if I had gotten any such email.

Much later she yelled out of her private office she was sorry; she did not send me the email. But look how our relationship had deteriorated. By this time I was just counting the days.