Dealing with a manager that thinks you're stupid

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hannahal91
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16 Aug 2014, 4:20 pm

Even though you may have average to above average intelligence, and you have certain special skills, do you have managers (or just people in general) who seem to think you are dumb or incompetent and treat you like you're "slow"? Just because you're shy and/or socially awkward?

I've been working in a restaurant now for a year. It's a pretty easy job as I mostly just take people's orders at the cash register (mostly just following a script and don't really have to make small talk), roll silverware, and occasionally take food out to the customers, make tea, and restock things. I am really quiet and and always a little bit awkward, but most of my coworkers and even most of the managers seem fine with me. The two main managers intimidate me a little bit but I've never had any problems with them personally and the few times I really talk to them or deal with them, they don't make me feel stupid. We also have three assistant managers who are all really young (they all used to be regular employees at one time but got moved up to be asst. managers). Well, two of them are really cool and I actually feel very comfortable around them. One of them in particular I even feel pretty comfortable having conversations with and even joking with. Even though I am shy and socially awkward, I still tend to feel more comfortable around friendly and outgoing people because it seems like they won't judge you. The other asst. manager is more reserved, and that alone wouldn't be such a problem. But since I've been working here I've been able to tell that he thinks I'm dumb and he is much more critical of me than any other manager. I have had several awkward moments with him but I've never been rude to him and I do what he asks me to. But anyway, he just always talks to me like I'm stupid. Awhile back, I had to make tea for the first time, and I honestly didn't know how to make tea because I personally hate it and never drink it myself, so of course I never make it at home. He treated me like I was some incompetent idiot for not knowing how to make tea. He did show me how, but he was sarcastically saying how "hard" it was.

Anyway, I mostly just ignore this guy, because he's only an asst. manager and I don't think he has the authority to fire me, plus he's hardly any older than me so I feel like I shouldn't let him intimidate me or get under my skin. Him treating me like I'm slow and dumb really just makes me want to work hard and do my job and show him I'm not some incompetent stupid person. So basically, I just do my job and don't worry about him, and I don't have to deal with him most of the time. He usually doesn't have any reason to actually get on to me. But recently, two things have happened that are starting to worry me.

-One night a couple weeks ago, he randomly called me over to him and told me to answer him honestly. And then he asked me if I was stoned. Wtf. Well, I most definitely don't do drugs of any kind and definitely wouldn't show up at work under the influence. I had no idea why he was asking me this and of course, being socially awkward, I didn't quite know how to handle it. But I did tell him that no, I was not stoned. I asked him if I was acting like I was and he just said my eyes looked red. The only reason I could think of my eyes being red or me seeming stoned was that I was just tired and I hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before. I had also just gotten over being REALLY sick a couple weeks before that. But, I just told him I was tired and that was probably what it was, and he just said ok and didn't say anything else about it the rest of the night. But later I got the chance to look in the mirror and my eyes didn't even look red...

Then something else happened yesterday. Well, for a long time, I only worked during the lunch hour. It wasn't until about 2 weeks ago that I actually worked a night/closing shift for the first time. So I'm still getting used to it. I honestly find it pretty overwhelming. When I work the lunch hour, I just have about three tasks that I need to do the whole time (which is taking orders, running food, and rolling silverware). With that, I just have the same routine and I'm so used to it. But with closing there is a long list of stuff to do and you have to constantly get interrupted by customers, and stop what you're doing to go help them. I just want to get one thing done at a time. But still, I'm not complaining, I'm doing my job, and I'm doing everything I can to get used to closing. But anyway, one of the things I have to do is thoroughly sweep and mop the floors. I'm obsessive about getting everything clean and making sure there isn't stuff on the floor. I am terrified of the managers coming in in the morning and thinking I didn't do a good job. I always face this dilemma because I want to make sure the floors look perfect, but then I ALWAYS end up staying later than the other closer because they finish way before me and I worry that the managers won't be happy about having to pay me more because I stay later than normal. But even so, when I went into work yesterday the manager that doesn't like me was just about to leave but before he did, he came to me and asked me if I even swept this one floor at all because it was just SO dirty and there was stuff all over the place. He then pulled out his cell phone and told me he had taken a picture of this pile of dirt that was on the floor. He also said that he had to stay an extra 30 minutes to sweep it all up. I was pretty caught off guard, of course. I apologized when he said he had to stay. but I also told him that I did sweep (because I certainly did). Then he just said "well, you just need to sweep better". But I know that I did NOT just leave dirt on the floor. I saw the picture and there is no way I wouldn't have noticed a big pile of dirt. I know that I swept over that floor TWICE so I don't understand how it could have been that bad. I did run out on the patio before I left to make sure it looked okay, so I've wondered now if maybe I got dirt on my shoes or something and that's what it was from. He did have the picture so I know he wasn't just making it up, but again, I know I didn't leave that on the floor so I've tried to think of some explanation.

If it was from my shoes then I suppose it was still my fault because I should have noticed that I was leaving a trail of dirt, but I did not intentionally leave the floor dirty and this manager just seems convinced now that I'm incompetent and can't sweep, or I actually purposely and lazily didn't even sweep at all. Since he took the picture, I'm now terrified that he's planning on showing it to the main managers and they're going to fire me. Thinking back to the whole thing about him asking if I was stoned scares me too. So now he thinks I'm some stoner too, not just stupid. And what if he tells the managers that he thinks I do drugs? Again, I usually don't let this guy bother me but now I'm worrying that he's really going to try to get me fired. :(



BirdInFlight
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16 Aug 2014, 5:10 pm

This guy sounds like a real jerk, if you ask me. It does seem like he has it in for you for some reason - some people in a management position just like to seek out a target to bully, for their own sense of power. Is there any way you can get back to the lunch shift and not have to do the closing shift? Because this floor sweeping thing seems to be something he really wants to catch you out on; I'm assuming you were not responsible for that particular task while on the lunch shift.

If you can't get out of the closing shift, I would start taking pictures myself of the completed floor. It might help to have your own proof of doing a thorough job, if he tries to show you another picture of dirt. It's possible he scraped some together to take that pic, just to give you a hard time, since you feel very sure that you did a thorough job and were surprised at the picture. I wouldn't put it past a guy like this -- who seems vindictive -- to have staged that pic.

Also, is there someone higher up than he is, that you can go to and tell him or her what you've told us here? Lay out the events to the higher manager in a similar way that you've described here. Tell that person you're not sure what's going on but you feel you are being targeted unfairly by this guy, as you work very diligently -- and also tell them about the "Are you stoned" conversation, and that it bothered you because you do not do drugs, thus his query about that felt highly offensive to you, as you do not believe you could have been "acting stoned."

If there is anyone at all higher up than him in management, who you feel is a neutral person (and not a big buddy of his), you should take your concerns to them and tell them calmly and factually how this dynamic seems strained and that you are uncomfortable as you are doing your work well.

.



AspieUtah
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16 Aug 2014, 5:32 pm

As BirdInFlight wrote, you need to document your work activities. Your post here is a great start. It describes your concerns and opinions well, and is timestamped and dated. I agree with the idea of taking your own pictures of the work you do to disprove anybody's suggestions that you didn't do your duties as expected. I would go a little further and write what happens at work for every shift. It doesn't have to be long descriptions. But, a few brief sentences like "I completed my duties today, but Mr. X said I failed at A, B and C because I was 'stupid' and 'stoned.'" Also, you MUST report his question about whether you were "stoned" or not to his supervisors. It isn't illegal for him to ask that question, but it will help you if his supervisors know immediately when he makes other suggestions in the future. Your reporting of the questions now is a lot better for you than to wait until after he tries to fire you. At that point, it will appear that you are making up false defenses of your actions, and end up hurting your cause. It also wouldn't hurt if you tell your coworkers who are friendly with you that you feel he is being unfairly critical of you. Don't offer examples or other details, but it would be good to describe in writing anything your coworkers say that they have experienced. You don't want to appear to be criticizing him, yet. Remember, you are collecting evidence now to defend yourself possibly later.

Other than that, continue to do your job as best you can.


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little_blue_jay
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16 Aug 2014, 8:09 pm

Even if (hypothetically) you did bring in dirt on your shoes from outside, it certainly would not consist of "a big pile", as you state it was. I used to have a pair of sneakers with deep groves underneath, and the worst they'd track in would be a scattering of dirt and it would be plainly spaced out according to my strides. Certainly not "a big pile". And certainly not something that would take an entire 30 minutes to clean up :?

Sorry this guy's such a jerk to you.


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17 Aug 2014, 12:14 am

As other have said it looks like you are being set up. The suggestions by the other posters are good ones. Also update your resume just in case.

Why would he do it?
As has been said he may just a sadistic bully. He may think you actually look stoned. Aspies do unintentionally wrongly present ourselves as stoners at times. I have been falsely accused of this myself.
There is a good chance it does not have anything to do with you. The person he has it in for may be the person that hired you or your manager. The existence of person who hired you/current manager might be blocking this persons advancement so he could be using you to trying and discredit them. Corporate politics is a b***h.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 17 Aug 2014, 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

hannahal91
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17 Aug 2014, 1:31 am

I have only very recently started to worry that he actually "has it in" for me. For a long time (from about the time I started working here) he just wasn't all that friendly to me and I could just tell he thought I was dumb sometimes when he talked to me. I never thought much of this - he's not the first person I've come across in my lifetime to seem to think I'm "slow" because of my social awkwardness. And, if he didn't like me that much, there was nothing I could really do about it and I don't expect everyone to be my buddy. For the most part, I just did my job and didn't really have to deal with him. I didn't talk and joke around with him but he also didn't really get on to me or criticize my work. Everything mostly started just a couple weeks ago when I started working nights. The whole thing where he ridiculed me for not knowing how to make tea is the only thing I can think of that he did prior to all the night incidents that really upset me. But the "stoned" comment and the dirt on the floor both happened very recently and he had never said or done anything like that to me before. I'm trying to think of something I could have done recently to upset or offend him, which might explain why he has suddenly started being worse to me, but I really have no idea.

And I still really don't know what to think of the whole floor thing. Again, I KNOW that I swept and I did not intentionally leave it like that, and I also seriously doubt that I could have just not noticed it. But him actually staging it and taking a fake picture just seems so far-fetched and I never thought he hated me THAT much. Like I said, he's just always come across as a little unfriendly and more reserved than other managers, but I never thought he'd be petty and vindictive enough to make things up about people to get them fired or just have a reason to get after them. He also said that there was a lot of stuff on the floor...not just that there was this one bit of dirt that took him 30 minutes to clean up. But still...I did sweep (and mopped afterwards too), and I'm always obsessive about making sure it looks ok, so I don't understand how it could have been that bad. Unless I somehow just obsessed over certain areas and forgot some other areas, but I really don't think so. The last two nights there has been a different manager closing, but just to be safe I've been making sure everything looks okay before I leave. Both times, he just looked the floor over and said I was fine and that I could go.

And I really wish I could get out of the night shifts! Unfortunately, it's like I sealed my own fate. A couple weeks ago, this girl I work with needed someone to work for her one night, and she asked me. I decided that I would just do her a favor, as long as it was okay with the main manager (since I had never closed before) but apparently he was ok with it AND he now thinks that I'm officially a "certified" closer and he should start regularly scheduling me for it. I never said I COULDN'T work nights but I kind of figured that at this point (since I've been working here a year) they mostly just need me for the lunch hour and I never thought that they would start regularly scheduling me to close just because I volunteered to do it for someone else. Ugh.

But thanks for the advice everyone. I can definitely start documenting what's been happening just in case. I really don't want to go "tattle" to one of the main managers but I suppose that will be my last resort, if things actually got out of control and it was really starting to look like he's trying to set me up.



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17 Aug 2014, 4:43 pm

I don't feel it's tattling to take your concerns to a higher manager, because your concerns are legitimate. The fact that you've yourself thought this guy's treatment of you is questionable enough that you're asking for opinions on it, is enough of an indication that you know something isn't really right. Trust that.

And if something isn't right, you have a right as an employee to report your concerns, and just lay things out calmly as you did here. That's not tattle-taleing, that's going to HR or the higher manager with something that is becoming an issue, or rather, you fear it has the potential to do so. As long as you tell them in a calm, matter-of-fact manner, which I'm sure you will, they should listen to your concerns.

Also, if there is any way to raise the issue of not intending to have signed up for closing shift, perhaps you could point out that it was originally meant to be for one night as a favor, as you said. Tell them the lunch shift is better suited to you because of family commitments or some other thing. You may have to fudge a reason, just don't make it too detailed, just mention family or a class you're taking, anything.

I once truthfully said I couldn't do my store's closing shift because I was in counseling due to recent family death and also my divorce -- it was 100% true, and since my weekly appointment with my grief counselor clashed with closing time, they had the humanity to not put me on that shift.

If there is anything truthful -- or even a half truth if it has to go that way -- that you can use to get back on the lunch shift, it might be better all around.

.



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17 Aug 2014, 5:22 pm

I have no problem with someone thinking I am stupid. The more stupid, or crazy, people think I am, the less they will try to interact with me. Being a simpleton has its perks



katiesBoyfriend
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17 Aug 2014, 7:20 pm

I've worked for a number of employers over the years. Most were either thick as planks or decided, for some reason, to make my life miserable. Some of them wanted to have me fired and 2 of them succeeded, though I never believed the reasons they gave me.

I also found out that if some boss wants to get rid of someone, they'll find a way to accomplish that, no matter what the employee in question does, how many hours that person puts in, or how much is accomplished. When there's a pink slip with one's name on it, there's not much that can be done about it.



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17 Aug 2014, 7:42 pm

katiesBoyfriend wrote:
I've worked for a number of employers over the years. Most were either thick as planks or decided, for some reason, to make my life miserable. Some of them wanted to have me fired and 2 of them succeeded, though I never believed the reasons they gave me.

I also found out that if some boss wants to get rid of someone, they'll find a way to accomplish that, no matter what the employee in question does, how many hours that person puts in, or how much is accomplished. When there's a pink slip with one's name on it, there's not much that can be done about it.

Very true, but there are some things that can be done to reverse much of the blame, if not the loss of employment. One of my jobs was as the public-information officer for a local-government elected official. After helping her re-election, I learned that my immediate supervisor would be a man who had lost his elected official's re-election and convinced my elected official to employ him because he had also lost his own job, too.

He quickly resented me and set about criticizing me, sending me on false errands which suddenly became my fault and challenging my work which had already been approved by our elected official. It was obvious that he was trying to get me fired as incompetent. I started keeping brief daily descriptions of my work including my interactions with him. I discussed his tactics with our elected official, but she refused to believe me because he appeared to her to be quite subserviant.

When he insulted me personally one day, I packed up and resigned. I applied for and received unemployment compensation based on losing my job because of a "hostile work environment." He challenged my compensation and, at the administrative-law court hearing about it, the judge agreed in writing with my detailed evidence of a hostile work environment, but said that I should have given our elected official a second warning that I would resign. I won my argument, but lost any future compensation for that claim. Fair enough, in my book; after all, my name was cleared of wrongdoing.

Some years later, he was discovered to have been sexually hostile and abusive to the women in all his various jobs within our government, and was forced to resign. A copy of my court opinion was used as evidence that he was also hostile to his male employees. The bottom line is that he lost his career and every bit of respect anyone in our government might have had for him.

So, it is important to report bad employers and managers even if (especially if) a worker is likely to lose a job by doing so.


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17 Aug 2014, 9:05 pm

AspieUtah -- you've hit the nail right on the head. "Hostile work environment" -- that is exactly right. And I agree, it's important to log events that illustrate this, and to report someone creating this, because you never know if you're not the only victim, and your going on record could help others down the line by getting rid of the bad apple manager.



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18 Aug 2014, 6:41 am

khaoz wrote:
I have no problem with someone thinking I am stupid. The more stupid, or crazy, people think I am, the less they will try to interact with me. Being a simpleton has its perks


I've never quite tried that way of going about it and it's interesting. It's really easy to impress people when you're constantly underestimated which might work well I the workplace.



katiesBoyfriend
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18 Aug 2014, 10:29 am

BirdInFlight wrote:
AspieUtah -- you've hit the nail right on the head. "Hostile work environment" -- that is exactly right. And I agree, it's important to log events that illustrate this, and to report someone creating this, because you never know if you're not the only victim, and your going on record could help others down the line by getting rid of the bad apple manager.

That doesn't always work.

While I was teaching, I endured several years of harassment and abuse from my last department head and his trusty ally, the assistant DH. I noted just about everything that happened, even if it was something as simple as how some of my accomplishments were described in a document. (Damning with faint praise as harassment? Why not? It's a reflection of the writer's attitude, isn't it?)

Things got really bad one year and the new dean heard about it. He took an instant disliking to me and made sure I wasn't allowed to explain my side of the issue. I submitted many of the aforementioned notes to the president of our staff association at the time, presenting them as evidence of bullying. I needn't have bothered. The association's lawyer treated that information as petty and trivial, finishing off by saying that I was the one who needed to change his attitude. (Eventually, I found out that the staff association president was in on the conspiracy. There were memos put in my personnel file over a period of time. The institution's regulations dictated that I had to receive a copy and would be allowed to make my comments. The catch was that the president got copies, but I didn't. My name, mysteriously, was not on the circulation list. Suspicious, isn't it?)

The nonsense continued for another year or so but we got a new staff association president. She did a proper job and came to my defence. She suggested that I write a rebuttal and send a copy to one of the institution's vice-presidents. I did and I gathered that a few people got their wings clipped, including my department head.

Unfortunately, it didn't last. I went on academic leave for my Ph. D. residency and things changed a lot while I was away. That vice-president retired and was replaced by some academic who must have graduated from the Seagull School of Management (look that one up!). The pressure to get rid of me increased as a result.

One day, I looked at my investment portfolio and asked myself why I was still putting up with all that abuse. When I saw that I had reached a certain financial plateau, I submitted my resignation. The reaction of some of my enemies was mixed. I gave them what they wanted--I was leaving, but not the way they would have liked. I left on my own accord and under terms that I dictated, though not necessarily ones that I liked.

That was a dozen years ago. I'm semi-retired and my net worth has increased significantly since then. I think I can safely say that I won.



katiesBoyfriend
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18 Aug 2014, 10:30 am

mattschwartz01 wrote:
khaoz wrote:
I have no problem with someone thinking I am stupid. The more stupid, or crazy, people think I am, the less they will try to interact with me. Being a simpleton has its perks


I've never quite tried that way of going about it and it's interesting. It's really easy to impress people when you're constantly underestimated which might work well I the workplace.

I use that when dealing with irritating neighbours. Believe me, it works! :mrgreen:



katiesBoyfriend
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18 Aug 2014, 10:38 am

AspieUtah wrote:
katiesBoyfriend wrote:
I've worked for a number of employers over the years. Most were either thick as planks or decided, for some reason, to make my life miserable. Some of them wanted to have me fired and 2 of them succeeded, though I never believed the reasons they gave me.

I also found out that if some boss wants to get rid of someone, they'll find a way to accomplish that, no matter what the employee in question does, how many hours that person puts in, or how much is accomplished. When there's a pink slip with one's name on it, there's not much that can be done about it.

Very true, but there are some things that can be done to reverse much of the blame, if not the loss of employment. One of my jobs was as the public-information officer for a local-government elected official. After helping her re-election, I learned that my immediate supervisor would be a man who had lost his elected official's re-election and convinced my elected official to employ him because he had also lost his own job, too.

He quickly resented me and set about criticizing me, sending me on false errands which suddenly became my fault and challenging my work which had already been approved by our elected official. It was obvious that he was trying to get me fired as incompetent. I started keeping brief daily descriptions of my work including my interactions with him. I discussed his tactics with our elected official, but she refused to believe me because he appeared to her to be quite subserviant.

When he insulted me personally one day, I packed up and resigned. I applied for and received unemployment compensation based on losing my job because of a "hostile work environment." He challenged my compensation and, at the administrative-law court hearing about it, the judge agreed in writing with my detailed evidence of a hostile work environment, but said that I should have given our elected official a second warning that I would resign. I won my argument, but lost any future compensation for that claim. Fair enough, in my book; after all, my name was cleared of wrongdoing.

Some years later, he was discovered to have been sexually hostile and abusive to the women in all his various jobs within our government, and was forced to resign. A copy of my court opinion was used as evidence that he was also hostile to his male employees. The bottom line is that he lost his career and every bit of respect anyone in our government might have had for him.

So, it is important to report bad employers and managers even if (especially if) a worker is likely to lose a job by doing so.

One of the problems with labour law is that it's usually in management's favour.

While I was teaching and had to put up with all manner of bullying and harassment, I found out that certain memos were placed in my personnel file. The fact that they were there without my knowledge (which, therefore, meant that I couldn't respond to them) was bad enough. Much of the information was incorrect and some of it was an outright lie.

After I found that out, I spoke with the student legal aid office at the nearby university. I was informed that the use of such falsehoods by an employers was perfectly legal, at least in the region where I live. It is the responsibility of the target of such information to clearly demonstrate to the court that one's reputation had been damaged and that the information was slanderous and defaming. The presumption of being innocent until proven guilty applies only to whoever produced that information.

Nice system of justice we have, eh?