Tuesday, November 1, 2011

3 Strategies for Dealing with a Difficult Boss.

In a blog post last week, I discussed some strategies for dealing with a difficult co-worker. However, what do you do if that intolerable person just happens to be your supervisor? Most of us can recall our worst boss. They may have been demanding, pushy, rude, a micromanager, or outright abusive. In today’s tough job market, many people may be more inclined to stick out the situation, no matter how bad their boss may be. Here are some strategies to help you deal with a difficult boss.

Don’t give your boss ammunition
I used to work in a three-person office that included me, my bossd and my counterpart. My boss often took out her frustrations on my co-worker, but I was usually spared her ire. It wasn’t that she liked me better or that I was a better worker. It was simple; I knew her pet peeves and I worked hard to avoid pushing those triggers.

The first step in dealing with a difficult boss is to take an honest and thorough assessment of your behavior, actions, and performance. Have you been professional, mature, and considerate in all your dealings at work? Are you giving your best possible performance at work? Try ignoring personal distractions, keep your head down, and focus on doing your job to the best of your ability and see if that changes the situation.

Don’t react with emotion
No matter how harsh the criticism, reacting with emotion will escalate the issue. Often times, difficult people are trying to bait you to react emotionally which makes you a target for additional attacks. Don’t react, just acknowledge the comment and move on. This strips away the power behind the verbal attack without creating additional conflict.

Use their criticism as a topic of discussion, not a source of confrontation. Never try to confront or discuss an issue when you are upset. Take some time to evaluate and revisit the issue when you have calmed down.

Learn to manage your manager
The best way to avoid criticism from a boss is to take a proactive approach. Get to know their likes and dislikes. Avoid miscommunication by clarifying their expectations of you and your performance. This clarity helps avoid future criticism.

Take a step back and try to define the cause for the problem. Try to find out how your boss likes the work to get done, how your boss prefers to receive information, and clearly define their priorities. Don’t try to guess, be professional and ask your boss to clarify all these things for you.

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