Career Talk

/ 3 years ago /

 Article by Jessica Murray

This is how you deal with your horrible boss

While we sincerely hope you’re blessed with pleasant supportive bosses for the rest of your days, there’s a high chance that at some point in your life you’re going to have to deal with a ‘horrible boss’. It’s not a particularly nice thing to go through, it can leave you feeling drained and demotivated, and at worst, can lead you to quitting your job and seeking work elsewhere.

But there are some things you can do to relieve some of the pressure. Here are our suggestions for dealing with your horrible boss in the most mature and sensible way possible, without creating any toxic tension that’s going to make your work environment even worse. Avoid any shouting matches (not cool) and instead try to understand your boss’ point of view more. Here’s how…

Are they actually that bad?

horrible boss

The first thing you need to do is take a step back and consider whether they are actually as ‘horrible’ as you think they are. Sometimes in a high pressure work environment it can be easy to take things personally – did they perhaps assign you a task you didn’t particularly want to complete, or maybe they weren’t keen on one of your ideas? It’s easy to let things like this influence your opinion of someone. In fact, even the fact that they’re you’re superior, with ultimate decision making authority, can be enough to rub you up the wrong way.

Try to assess the situation objectively. Are they really being unfair or overly negative? Or are you taking things a bit too personally? Try explaining the situation to a trusted friend or family member to see what they think – they’re likely to tell you straight if you’re acting out of line.

Remember they’re human too

They might seem like some Miranda Preistly-esque demi-god but remember that they’re actually just another human being, so try and work out what makes them tick. What annoys them? What are their goals? What pressures do they face? Remember, they’ll likely have their own boss above them setting their goals and directives, so try and put yourself in your boss’ shoes.

Once you work out what motivates them to act the way you do, it’s not about making excuses for their behaviour, but understanding their point of view. This means that if you do decide to speak to them about certain issues, you can address the underlying motivations behind their behaviour and you’re more likely to make them understand your point of view.

Don’t be afraid to set boundaries

horrible boss

If your boss rings you up at 11pm at night demanding something from you, they need to know that’s not ok. As long as you’re completing the work you’re supposed to, and working your set hours, don’t let your boss place extra stress and responsibility on your shoulders that you’re not being paid for. This can have a really detrimental effect on your mental health, your personal relationships and your job satisfaction.

Make sure you tackle the issue sooner rather than later, as the longer you let them get away with it, the more they’ll expect from you. If they cross the line of acceptable work etiquette, speak to them in person and let them know how you feel. They should hopefully respect your decision, but if they don’t, you’re within your rights to take the issue to a senior member of staff or the HR department.

Remember they’re not perfect

Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking your boss knows everything and every decision they make is undoubtedly the right one. This can make you wary of suggesting changes to the status quo, and taking your boss’ word as gospel. This is in fact really bad for business – remember you’ve been hired for a reason, and your opinion is just as valid as everyone else’s. You’re there to drive development and growth within the business, not keep things exactly the same.

Obviously respect your boss’ authority and don’t start acting like you own the place, but assert yourself and put your stamp on the work you’re doing. If your boss completely refuses to accept anyone’s opinion other than their own, speak to your colleagues to see if they’re experiencing the same thing and arrange a chat with your boss to express your concerns.

Anticipate their requests

horrible boss

The only way to outwit your boss is to do what they want you to do before they even know they want you to do it. Obviously you shouldn’t dedicate your whole life to just catering to your boss’ needs but see if there’s some sort of pattern to the kind of things they’re asking you to do, try and anticipate these requests ahead of time so the next time they ask you can say it’s already done. Just make sure you don’t look too smug. Of course, the end goal is that if you complete their requests beforehand, they’ll eventually stop asking and let you get on with your job in peace.

Become their friend

You’ve heard the saying, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. While this is very true, we’re not suggesting this so you can take some wild revenge on your boss at an opportune moment. If you get to know each other in an non-workplace setting, it’ll help you to work together more effectively when you’re at work, and hopefully diffuse any tension that has arisen.

Offer to go for coffee or lunch with them, and try to keep the topic of conversation away from work as much as possible. Find out about them as a person; what they like to do in their spare time, what their family is like, and what their hopes for the future are. It’ll help you both to see each other as humans and not just colleagues, and enable you to cooperate better.

Taking these actions should help avoid the worst case scenario, and enable you to continue thriving and succeeding in your role. Your company should have a support network in place for you to turn to in situations like this, so if you’re struggling remember to always speak out. Know your own worth and know when you’re being treated unfairly.

Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

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