The Self-Awareness Guy

5 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Boss

Perhaps you’re in a situation where you have a difficult boss and feel powerless to do anything about it.  A difficult boss is someone who uses power and control to intimidate, threaten or keep his (or her) employees off-balance.  Even though it takes some effort, there are concrete things you can do to take charge of your own reactions, take care of yourself and lessen the impact your boss has on you.  The following are some practical ideas to help you deal with a difficult boss:

1. Realize the boss’ behavior is not about you and not personal.  He was that way before he (or she) met you.  The only thing you can control is deciding whether his behavior will affect you.  You, in effect, decide how much power you are going to give this person.

2. Find common ground.  Use your listening and open-ended question asking skills to connect with the boss.  Re-focusing your energy to learning about the other person has a way of moving the conversation in a different direction than simply getting into arguments.

3. Take care of yourself. Seek the comfort of people who can support and help you. A co-worker, a friend, a coach or a counselor can help you take care of yourself and take some of the negativity out of your brain.  Do things that bring you pleasure at work and when you’re off rather than things that feed your boss’ issues.

4. Decide what is right for you. We sometimes reach points where we need to decide if the grief of a difficult boss is worth staying in the position.  Only you know the answer.  Remember that life is short and difficult bosses come and go.  Only you have the power to control your destiny and life, so make the most out of it.

5. Tell your boss in a kind and respectful way how you like to be treated. Don’t use the word you, become emotional, or attack.  Simply use “I” messages such as, “I like for people to talk to me respectfully,” that aren’t accusatory or single out the difficult boss.  Do a web search for effective communication skills or work with a coach to help you develop effective conversation strategies.

There is no written rule that you have to endure punishment or that you can’t become more skilled in dealing with difficult people.  You have a lot of control if you are willing to practice the ideas listed above.  What are your ideas on the subject?