Bosses who like to berate

So the top partner at my company likes to berate people in investment committee meetings for the sport of it. Usually it takes the form of how information is presented in a proposal. I have never been subjected to one of these as I’m a BSD who knows how to clearly explain and support a proposal, until yesterday. The proposal was a complete no-brainer and the meeting was just a formality. I went through my presentation with typical BSD expertise. As a sportsman, the head guy must have thought it would be fun to make a huge deal out of one small inconsequential detail of the proposal, which he pretended was unclear.

So he goes through his harumphing and righteous indignation, then realzing he might have gone too far by the look on everyone’s face, he begins to backtrack and try to smooth it over by saying what a great job i did on the investment summary. Before he could finish I interrupted him with “we can move on now, you don’t need to pat me on the ass. you made your point so let’s just fucking move on”. there was some nervous laughter from the other attendees. no one knew what to do because they all usually just sit there and take the beating. Afterwards, one of the other spineless jellyfish partners came into my office and said incredulously “you can’t do that”!

I say I have a duty to myself to maintain my self-respect and not tolerate pointless or unjustified abuse from anyone. What do you guys think?

I think he kissed your converses. Kudos. I respect you standing up for yourself and at the end of the day if your work is good it won’t matter. If anything, I bet this guy respects you more now. People are the same they were on the school yard, just dressed better. There was always a bully and until you fight them (win or lose) they will keep doing it. I think you showed him you’re willing to fight and that should be enough for him to never do it again. It doesn’t sound like you attacked him so I don’t see him trying to get any revenge.


I agree. I play the politics at work and avoid keeping it too real. (See when keeping it real goes wrong)

Not sure I would have thrown an F bomb, but to each their own.

How did your wife take the enhanced/enlarged BSD you’re swinging around?

You were awesome until you used profanity in a business setting. When attacked, hit back, for sure, but remain classy; if you don’t, people lose respect for you, and it just ends up sounding like you’re on the verge of a tantrum.

Ideally, the way to react is to acknowledge his point (if it’s technically correct) and then subtly (or unsubtly) suggest that nothing he has said alters any relevant conclusions about what you’ve proposed. You show that the guy is small for focusing on it and wasting everyone else’s time over a minor detail: “Thank you for that detail, I’ll incorporate your contribution right away, but right now, turning back to what’s important here…”

My $0.02

profanity in a business setting is the norm in my compnay so it just flowed naturally. ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ fly between all levels all the time. so there was nothing unusual in anyone hearing profanity. granted, it may have come off more powerful if i hadn’t used profanity.

to tell the truth i was on the verge of completely unloading on the guy and it took all my will not to do so.

Was with you until the F-bomb.

mutha fuckin troof.

Have to agree with the F-bomb. You lost my respect just reading this post. You may be a BSD but everyone is expendable. Good luck it’s going to get weird especially if this guy has a lot more friends then you in the office, especially if he has the ear of the “deciders”.

It is good that you defended your self-respect, but the use of profanity may not have gone over well. It depends on your work environment, but it sounds like others in your meeting were surprised and potentially not in a good way. I think people understand why you stood your ground and it totally makes sense that you did, but from a political capital perspective, trying to fight fire with fire might not have been the best way to go. Others may form an impression of you, and that guy may use that as ammo to retaliate in the future. Hopefully that doesn’t happen though, as my guess is that this situation is more likely to be just water under the bridge especially if you’re a good worker.

When I get pushback from people, however annoying or irritating it is to me – for example, there is a big difference between disagreeing with me and trying to engage in a constructive debate, versus trying to condescend me especially when I know I’m a top performer AND everyone else in the room also knows it – I try to keep my cool and go point-by-point to disprove what they’re saying. I’m sure there are times when I just want to unleash my fury on them, but usually keeping my composure, taking the high road, and making them look bad via intelligent discourse has more profound effects, both on the negative side for them and on the positive side for me.

Rest assured that even while not using profanity, when I commit to making someone look bad, I make sure to bury them alive. For example, some of you may recall the “squabble” between me and Blake McCallister here last year – that was basically child’s play.

F-bomb is very common on my desk, and probably in many trading desks. However, you shouldn’t use that in a confrontational setting, where it becomes belligerent and not just guys being guys. I would never use profanity to berate a coworker. The guy is going to remember this.

If the guy is a bully, then I hope he would remember it.

Turd, you better do some extra yoga tonight!

Turd, if you walked away thinking he felt disrespected I think I would maybe stop by and say no hard feelings. If you think he was just caught off-guard that you stood your ground then you made your point.

Exactly. Using profanity in a business setting in a confrontation basically shows that you lack self discipline. That makes people lose respect for you. It feels good in the moment (like sticking to a bad trade), but it ultimately damages you more than it helps you. It’s just a bad idea.

Try working on a deal team people. It makes the trading room scene of Wolf of Wall Street look like Sunday school. I’ve heard top shelf lawyers on a conference call interrupt an IB partner while saying STOP. FKING. TALKING!

It’s true that cultures change across companies and divisions. I guess we’ll only know when/if we hear TF’s discussion about the aftermath. It seems that everyone here is in favor of sticking up for oneself, the only debate is whether the F-bomb was a good or a bad choice and what the consequences of that are.

I don’t think it was a wise move to use the F- bomb even though I think you were well within your rights to stand up for yourself. “let’s just move on”, sounds distinctly better than let’s just f-en move on". Makes you sound like a bit of a hot head that cannot take criticism.

Some deal teams are rough. You have i-bankers who think they should always have something to say about every subject and that their responses should be as long-winded as possible. Then you have lawyers who have trouble speaking to non-lawyers. Then you have consultants who don’t share information with anyone on the deal team for god knows what reason.

Some calls are borderline shouting matches until someone calm finally tells them to take it offline. It’s great!

A very soft and calm “Are you finished?”, spoken as you would speak to a child having a tantrum, would have spoken volumes more than the F-Bomb. You have said nothing that could be taken as offensive or confrontational, but in that moment you instilled within everyone in earshot exactly how much the other person is wasting everyones time and how much of a tool they are.

Treat children like children.