Sometimes my supervisor drives me mad. Grrr.


What is it with supervisors? Mine is generally fab, but she can be so horrible when she's stressed and she takes it out on eveyone around her. I sent her an email last night to receive rather a discourteous reply this morning basically telling me off for daring to email her when she's away, and she has enough to do and why couldn't I wait until she got back blah blah blah. She answered the question I had asked in the email but in a way which obviously reflected her vile mood at the time of writing the email. I've been out testing participants all week, she is away so often- how am I supposed to know she's away if she doesn't tell us and ask us not to bother her?! If I had known she was away I wouldn't have bothered her with the email but I'm not psychic and she didn't have to be so rude! It was such a nasty email that I actually almost cried when I read it! She is well known for this sort of thing and has made a number of enemies in the department- now I see why. Anyone else take the brunt of their supervisor's bad moods? Hope everyone's having a good week! KB


======= Date Modified 16 Jun 2010 15:08:30 =======
I handed in a very inadequate first-year 10,000 word document for the panel three-years ago. My supervisor was rather angry (quite voice, blanched face) and made it clear that I had *just* passed by the grace of God and the skin of my teeth. I spent months making up for that.

As a whole, my supervisor is pleasant, helpful, and unfailingly polite. (up) Sorry to hear your sup is volatile! :(


Yeah this sort of thing is common as alot of the time supervisors seem to get away with it and there is nothing you can do about it! It doesn't cost them anything to be human but many can't even manage that! What is worse is that it is swept under the carpet and the dept just puts up with it and it's your problem that your supervisor is sooo inadequate and incapable of supervising! Sorry this post isn't much help. But at least you know you're not alone!


======= Date Modified 16 Jun 2010 16:19:36 =======
Oh KB, sorry to hear you're having a tough time with your supervisor, I'm sure this is the sort of thing I'll have to brace myself for come September! All of mine are lovely at the moment, and they don't seem to have reputations for their moods, but I'll wait and see for myself.

Hopefully she'll be fine with you when she gets back, and I really don't think it would have taken much for her to have sent an email to her students last week to let you know she was going away, that would have been the polite thing to do. You seem to have a good relationship with her most of the time, so maybe just tell her when you see her that you didn't know she was away, if she's still in a mood about it.

Take care, Nx


Quite frankly, what a b***h! I know that doesn't help much but I think we need to remember that this sort of behavious is actually out of order, and that you in no way deserve it. Poor KB :-(

Would you consider sending her back an email, perhaps expressing your great (ham it up if you feel naughty) regret at having disturbed her time off, and agreeing how important such breaks are. As such you can tell her that you would be delighted to be kept informed of her movements so you don't make this terrible mistake again. Perhaps that will drw her attention to her own role in this and make her think twice in future. Alternatively, she could always set and out-of-office response (like normal people) and then you'd know not to expect a response til her return date.


I think it was suggested many times in this forum and even someone said it very recently that ' A significant step towards PhD is also how successful you are in developing a sort of thick skin' So based on that norm.. this is quite normal lol :-)

Avatar for Eska

Yep, KB, I agree with Teek, your sup is totally out of order here.

In your situation I would probably write back saying something like 'So sorry to have disturbed you on your break. If I had realised you were off duty I would not have contacted you, and if you let me know when your breaks are in future, then I promise I will never do it again. Enjoy your holiday, Best E. '

But that's me.


Thanks guys, I just needed someone to vent at! She isn't actually on holiday, she's at a conference, but she goes away on so many and normally if she doesn't want to be emailed or doesn't have access to email she lets us know beforehand. And yes, I have already emailed her back politely letting her know that I hadn't realised she was away and of course if I had known I wouldn't have bothered her with the query, which I genuinely wouldn't have done. But honestly, there is just no need for her attitude! She could have just ignored it until she got back or emailed and asked me if I could wait until she was back before emailing her with queries. She really can be vile at times and the rest of the team have all been subjected to this too at some point, so I know it's not personal, but it's hard not to take it personally- I'm a sensitive soul! Thanks for letting me rant :-) Best, KB


Tell her to sort out an out of office automated reply to e-mails when away! Last time I met with my sup I took my diary and asked when he'd be available and when away over the next couple of months. We then arranged next couple of meetings and alerted 2nd sup to when I might be contacting her in his absence. Just made life easier for all concerned!


Honestly- your supervisor chose to read her emails. In a normal world she would have no right to be annoyed or angry about you emailing her a query - its her job?!? But, in crazy PhD land you have to suck it up and apologise for intruding! On the positive side, at least she replies to your emails, mine will either reply immediately (if it is an easy query and he happens to be sitting at his computer) or will never reply and you will have to chase him down...