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Coping with a Difficult Boss

Related:   Compare the way you both perceive your role    > Coping with a Difficult Boss <   Remember that the relationship is mutual  
Coping with a Difficult Boss

Coping with a Difficult Boss

Many people have a difficult or challenging relationship with their boss. Of all the difficult relationships you may have at work, this will probably be the trickiest and most stressful because of the inherent political dynamic of your relationship. It can be tempting to lay the blame for this unhappy type of situation at the boss's feet due to his or her unreasonable, negative, awkward, or unhelpful behaviour. Whether justified or not, the good news is that, as a significant party in the relationship, there is much you can do to end the bad boss nightmare.

Consider the impact on your own health and happiness

Rather than deal with the problem directly, many people are tempted to live with the difficulties of having a troublesome boss. Instead of addressing the problem, they brush it under the carpet by looking for ways of minimising the impact he or she has on their working lives. However, employing avoidance tactics or finding ways to offset the emotional damage can be time-consuming and stressful. Focusing on your own well-being may encourage you to tackle the issue rationally and try to reach an accommodation that will prevent you from jeopardising your health or feeling that you have to leave your job.

Understand your boss

When you come to look more closely at your relationship with your boss, the first thing to do is to realise how much of it is due to the structure of the organisation-for example, your boss necessarily has to give you tasks, some of which you may not enjoy-and how much is due to truly unreasonable behaviour.

Looking at the wider issues in the organisation may provide the key to the problem. 'Difficult boss syndrome' is rarely caused simply by a personality clash: more often than not, there are broader organisational factors that can go some way to explaining seemingly unreasonable behaviour.

  • However uncomfortable it may feel, try putting yourself in your boss's shoes. Recognise the objectives that define his or her role and think through the pressures they are under.
  • Make a mental list of your boss's strengths, preferred working style, idiosyncrasies, values, and beliefs. Observe his or her behaviour and reactions, and watch where he or she chooses to focus attention.

This will help you deepen your understanding. Very often, when we feel disliked or when we dislike someone, we avoid building this understanding and instead look for ways of avoiding the issues.


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