Three Tips for Dealing with a Difficult Boss

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 1.03.57 PM.png

Working for a difficult boss can be excruciating. It can trigger anxiety, make you dread your work day, or leave you fantasizing about quitting.  And because bosses typically play such a big part in life, learning the skills to effectively deal with them has the potential to greatly increase your sense of wellbeing.  

Here are three tips to help you with a difficult boss:

  1. Notice Your Self-Talk – There are the things your boss does, and then there are all the thoughts that run through your head. When your boss again annoys you, does negative self-talk take over? Do you frequently say, “I can’t believe he did this again?”  “What is she thinking?” “My day is now ruined?” “What a jerk?”

    Notice how you feel when you think these things about your boss. Negative thoughts like these can grow like weeds and they typically keep us feeling angry and increase our stress levels. In other words, they make things worse. Pay attention and practice catching yourself when you use these phrases. Then redirect your negative self-talk to something more positive like, “Yes, this is a difficult situation, but I can handle it.”

  2. Practice Acceptance – People can and do change, but they have to want to change first. If your boss doesn’t want to change, he or she probably won’t. Notice how much energy you put into wishing your boss were different. Do you find yourself constantly frustrated or annoyed with how things are? Are you regularly angry or resentful of your boss? Oftentimes, an immense desire to control or change your boss lurks behind these feelings. Practice letting go of this. 

    Usually there is a lot of resistance to acceptance. Acceptance, however, doesn’t mean you condone your boss’s behavior. It does mean you detach from the energy of trying to change him or her. Letting go of this energy frees you. It allows you to redirect your energy to what you can control—how you want to respond to the situation. You have greater ability to focus on how to take care of yourself and best get the job done.

    An added bonus is that practicing acceptance can improve the relationship.  When we let go of wanting someone to change, it shows up in our words, body language, and other behaviors. Oftentimes, the other person can sense this and the relationship gets better on its own.  

  3. Schedule Daily or Weekly Check-Ins with Your Boss – A difficult boss is often unpredictable. This can show up as sudden mood shifts, last-minute requests, or an unexpected change in priorities. When I help people with this problem, I often find that there is no system for regular meetings. Think about whether a quick weekly or daily check-in with your boss would help. This is a time to make sure you are on the same page about what needs to get done, how, and when. This strategy can reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and improve your relationship.  

Need more help dealing with a difficult or toxic boss? Call today to schedule an appointment.  

Diana Reinhart