The Self-Awareness Guy

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

It can be quite a challenge to keep one’s sanity when working for a tyrant. Difficult bosses micromanage, keep us off balance, withhold information, shout at us, undermine our efforts, avoid us or perpetrate any number of behaviors that make our time in the workplace unpleasant.

This is all normal. If you think about it, people are thrown into the business world where they re-enact all the dramas from their upbringing and personal life on the people they manage. There are no classes on how to keep your personal strife from affecting your subordinates.

Regardless of what your boss does, there are things you can do to take care of yourself and deal with the situation realistically. Think about the following ideas the next time you find yourself feeling exasperated by a troublesome boss:

1. It’s not about you. People behave the way they do because of their own issues. Just because they don’t know how to treat you well doesn’t mean that you have to take on that burden and feel bad about it. Remember to take care of yourself regardless of how your boss treats you.

2. It’s all in your perspective. Ever wonder why some people are bothered by a certain behavior and others take it in stride? You get to choose what you focus on. If you let your boss yank your chain you give up all your power. If you redirect or ignore negative behavior you become stronger.

3. Try something other than confrontation. Many people think that the only way to deal with challenging issues is to get in someone’s face. While this may stop the behavior temporarily, it rarely gets rid of the underlying cause. Do some research on two-way communication and problem solving to build up your ability to work with your boss on finding solutions.

4. Listen more than you talk. By listening you let the person tell you what’s going on and you learn a great deal about what’s causing them to behave in this negative manner. It also helps you avoid mistaken assumptions.

5. Leave your ego at the door. We tend to get caught up in trying to win battles or avoiding embarrassment but that gets in the way of actually fixing stuff. Model the behavior you want to see. A calm and caring attitude will get you farther than trying to prove that your point of view is correct.

6. Think long term. When trying to fix a situation with a difficult boss please realize that it will take considerable time to alleviate. Remember that it took them a long time to get to where they are, it will take long-term patience and kindness to interrupt the pattern. Expect that you will not get the results you desire the first few times you try this approach.

7. Stick with it. The only way situations change is by consistently repeating new behaviors. If you practice these steps over time, people will eventually become accustomed to your new way of doing things. Keep in mind that they may actually get worse initially before they get better.

8. Have an alternate plan. If all your efforts fail then you might need to evaluate your options for the future. Life is too short to endure poor treatment. You deserve to work at a place where you are appreciated. Start planning the next phase of your life today and you will have something positive to look forward to.

Nobody enjoys having a difficult boss but there are things we can do to regain our power and live a happier work life. When you choose to work things out with a problematic boss you not only affect your interaction with him or her; you begin to take control of the remainder of your life.