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It all started when he became my direct supervisor. Before this, we were both trainers in the same gym. *Gary was a few years my senior and when I first joined the gym as a full-time personal trainer, he was one of my first friends in the company. Fast forward to five years later, the gym underwent a rebranding and a personnel reshuffling – Gary was now my direct supervisor.

Initially, it didn’t seem any different. We had lunch together with the rest of the team and even had team bonding activities. All of us loved our job. A few new people came on board and some old ones left but it was as though nothing had changed.

Perhaps I wasn’t too alert but I believe it was into the third month of his new position when he started pulling ranks. It occured out of the blue; he would ask me to buy lunch back to the office for him and make me submit weekly reports. At first, I thought he was too busy to have lunch and that the weekly reports were mere protocol. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that every time I brought food back for him, he was either watching Youtube videos at his desk or chatting with his then girlfriend (who’s a salesperson at the gym).

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I confronted him about it and when he couldn’t say anything, I knew he was taking advantage of his superiority. I think I made a mistake by taking three days of medical leave right after the confrontation because from then on, it was war. He took three of my personal training clients off my list (and transferred it to his own list) without warning.

When I asked him about it, he told me he was lightening my load as I had “too many” clients.

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I tried to keep mum about the situation because I couldn’t believe he would do such a thing. I was known for having the most amount of clients among my colleagues because many of the clients who came were into my muay thai training. Yet, it seemed as though he was encouraged by my silence and continued to pick on me. Going to the toilet during work hours were twisted into “slacking sessions” and if I was a minute late, he would mark it down (and send emails to everyone saying why we shouldn’t be late). He would even verbally abuse me by calling me lazy in front of the colleagues and every time he spoke to me, he had a warning tone.

This went on for at least ten months. Of course, I wasn’t the only one getting picked on but I guess it was the worst for me because I couldn’t accept the fact that he had changed into an entirely different person.

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Earlier this year, I decided to stand my ground and fought back by threatening to resign. I don’t know if it was a bad move but when the company’s HR realised I had submitted my letter, they called me up and told me to take three weeks off before deciding again. I was really upset.

Not only did Gary not do anything but a week after he found out that HR told me to take a break, he sent in a request to have me dropped from the company. I couldn’t put up with it anymore so I left the job.

I’m currently working at another job that’s paying me a third of my old pay and I know this isn’t going to last long. I do miss my old job but I know I can never go back there, as long as he’s still in charge.

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What you can do when your boss is a tyrant:

You can’t please everyone so don’t get caught up in the pointless arguments.

Easier said than done. But if you’re getting picked on for no reason, your superior is probably taking it personal. Let him win the small arguments (like insulting you or simply saying mean things) and reply him only when you need to. Your energy can be better spent on focusing on your work and hanging out with your colleagues.

Talk it out and if he doesn’t do anything about it (or worse, fires you) you can always report it to the Ministry of Manpower.

You should know that you can only be terminated without notice if you break the contract or have been absent without cause multiple times. If he’s accusing you, he needs concrete proof.

Find another job but never shortchange yourself.

Most of the time, when people leave a job due to bad circumstances they adopt a “any work is work” attitude. True, it’s better to have a job because we all have bills to pay. But we often forget that we have skills and experience to back us up. If you’ve been working non-stop for five years, taking a three-month break to look for a much more suitable job is better than jumping into a new job that’s paying you less than half of your old pay.