Have you ever had the displeasure of working with someone who is difficult? It is fairly common to work alongside people who are condescending, ineffective communicators, or bullies, or whose personalities and actions simply annoy you. This problem becomes even worse when that person is your boss or supervisor. Frustrations and anger created from your interaction with a difficult boss can mount, and it may eventually lead to decreased productivity, low morale, or even your decision to quit your job. Alternately, your frustrations can come to the surface and cause hostility between you and your boss, which may lead to your termination.
Here are some tips to follow to help improve your dealings with a difficult boss.
Don’t Lose Your Head
Rudyard Kipling wrote an inspiration poem entitled “If“. He writes, “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you"?¦Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” I have always understood this poem to be a mantra on patience and tolerance.
Applied to this situation of dealing with a difficult boss, take a deep breath before making a decision to react to your supervisor’s annoying behavior. Think about whether there is a way you can approach your boss to discuss your concerns. Rather than making it a personal or emotional conversation in which you vent your anger, try to couch your discussion in terms of how you can improve your performance and make your job more productive. If your supervisor is a poor communicator, try giving a couple examples of how your boss’ certain poorly-communicated message made a negative impact on your job performance. If your boss can see a benefit to communicating in a different way, you will have a better chance of affecting change.
However, if your boss’ behavior created a vitriolic or toxic environment, think about your options and decide whether you should seek an opportunity elsewhere. Give yourself a few months’ time to look for a new opportunity, contacting your professional associates, references, and other trusted peers to help you seek a new job.
Reporting Your Boss
If your boss’ behavior is truly abusive, you should consider discussing your situation with an HR manager. Be honest with this manager about the problems you’ve encountered. Although the HR manager may record the complaints, he or she may not be able to take action to improve the situation for you. Instead, your HR manager may be able to provide help in getting you a new position outside of the company.
One caveat to consider: Your complaints may get back to your boss, who may treat you with distrust or contempt. Especially if you have not made an attempt to improve the situation directly with your boss, going above your boss’ head to an HR manager or any other manager may backfire on you.
In conclusion, it is important that you consider the full extent of the problems that you are having with your boss, and try to remedy them before they become large obstacles that prevent you from having a fulfilling and enjoyable career. Above all, don’t let your frustrations get the best of you. If you cannot improve the work situation with your supervisor, maybe it is time to consider looking for a new position.