Dealing with a painfully ignorant manager


Hello OSMI forums,

I’m Syliddar, a Marine veteran turned web developer with some Iraq related PTSD. I got home safe with a few minor shrapnel injuries and between post-deployment counseling and VA treatment, I’m doing pretty alright. I still have nightmares sometimes, and I can’t be around certain smells without panic attacks/getting sick, but overall, I’m pretty OK. When I got home, I went to college for software development and I’ve been employed in the field for coming on six years now.

That’s not why I’m posting, though.

A few months ago, it was decided that as my (at the time) current project began to wind down, I’d start to be working with another team within the company as a remote team member. They had a security audit done on their product and I’ve got a background in security. So I was called in to assist on the mitigation of the security issues the audit found. The Manager and product owner of that team flew in town to meet with me and a few other coworkers locally who were also joining their team.

Before the scheduled events/planning/meetings, we made small talk and introductions. I mention that I was in the military, the time period in years I was in, where I was based out of, that I deployed for a year, and what my job specialty was. The Manager, after asking when I had been deployed to Iraq, he casually joked that “(He) was in the Army for a few years, planning and logistics, total desk job, (he) never deployed anywhere but the coffee shop. Damn, you were in Iraq before the Surge, that must have been rough. Your PTSD must be way worse than mine.” Proceeded with some of the most oblivious laughter I’ve ever heard. After a few moments, and realizing that he was the only one in the room laughing, he chuckled and said “Eh, I guess it wasn’t that funny.”

First time I’d ever met him and he leads with that as a joke. He’s a veteran too! He should know better, right?

In the last two months, I’ve started working with them full-time, and he keeps making that kind of painfully ignorant jokes. Last week, during a meeting that bled over into lunch time, “Please, I planned the invasion of country, $(Syliddar) was there, I can plan a lunch.”, etc.

He’s going to be back in town next week and wants to meet with me for “some trigger time” (referring to firearms, not anxiety triggers) while he’s in town.

I don’t know what to do with this guy, every time I have to talk with him, my stress levels go through the roof just waiting for the next stupid thing to come out of his mouth. I’m dreading this meeting with him next week. I just know there’s going to end up being a lot of friendly/small talk, which is where all his bad jokes come out of and I don’t know if I can fake being friendly if he does it again.

What do you do with a superior that is so ignorant about this sort of thing?


I don’t know, it seems like him being in the Army was part of the joke. If that’s the case, then he really wouldn’t know better.

Have you told him that you don’t really appreciate his jokes? Sometimes, people just don’t seem to get the message unless told outright. If you’ve already said something to him, but he’s still at it, go over his head.

If there’s nothing like that open to you, then I don’t know. The only two options I see are to just put up with his dumbassery or get another job.


I’ve not had to deal with what you’re going through directly, however I have found that the most useful tool for dealing with difficult people is to take away whatever they are getting out of what’s causing you issues. This case would be the jokes, let him know that you don’t find them funny, they aren’t appreciated, and it’s still something you’re struggling with. No one can tell you how you feel so once you’ve done this if he continues then it becomes an HR issue. That conversation may be really awkward and hard, but that may be the only way to show him how serious you are.


This is the right response. Have a respectful conversation with him, and make sure he can’t laugh it off. If he continues after you’ve attempted to resolve the issue yourself, get HR involved. You absolutely have a right to come to work and not be made to feel that way, manager or not.