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HOW TO… Confidently Deal With a Difficult Boss

HOW TO… Confidently Deal With a Difficult Boss

If you’re thinking of leaving your job because of a bad boss, you’re not alone. 63% of people who rated their manager as “terrible” or “not so great” would consider quitting in the next 12 months.

Quitting is one way to get away from a bad boss, but what if you love everything else about your job? And if your heart is set on finding another job, how can you use confidence to make it better for yourself in the meantime?

Remember that everyone reports to someone and your boss may be dealing with their own crisis of confidence and projecting it onto you. That doesn’t make it okay, but when we can remember that our bosses are also under stress, the situation can feel personal. We understand that it’s possible their behavior has nothing to do with us or even anything to do with them. Only one out of every five individuals that are currently in management roles actually demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others!

Even being able to see our bosses as real people with their own pressures, doesn’t make the impact of a toxic workplace any less damaging. Toxic environments make it hard to focus, think and produce our best work. And, when we don’t feel psychologically safe, we may stop contributing our ideas and opinions, or worse, stop asking for the feedback we need to do our jobs well.

Here are three tips for confidently dealing with a bad boss:

1. Observe how your manager interacts with others and take notes. Is their bad behavior directed at everyone or is it concentrated on you? This isn’t about what you feel - it’s about watching their actions. If you’re feeling unsure, keep watching and listening. Don’t gossip or speculate with others.

2. Keep a diary with specific dates, times and situations when they’re treating you unfairly. Include a description of what happened and the words your boss said. Aim to capture the details of at least three incidents. Compare it to how you’ve observed their interaction with others. With this information you can confidently decide whether this is someone you can continue working for.

3. Ask for a meeting, but don’t go in all fired up. Tee it up as having a conversation about something your boss can do to help you be more productive. This may feel sneaky, but it’s not: what you’re doing is setting a tone that keeps their amygdala calm and more open to having a discussion versus getting defensive. Use examples from your log and notice how they respond to what’s offered. If they tell you something didn’t happen or that you’re being too sensitive, thank them for their feedback and add this meeting to your log. You’ll have what you need if you decide to go to HR or some solid scenario-based interview questions to bring with you on your job search.

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