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Studies have shown that three out of four people consider their boss to be the most stressful part of their job. More than 60% of employees have no reasons to thank their boss. More than a third of Canadians believe that their boss lacks integrity and doesn’t work very hard. One out of five bosses are losing it and shouting to their employees.

Does it come with the territory?

Some bosses have this inhuman ability to rub their employees the wrong way, say the wrong things and bring out the worst in people.

On the other hand, 38% of employees said they had a great boss. Some bosses do something right! Some bosses give credit where it’s due, provide positive feedback and attend each meeting they schedule with you. You will encounter difficult bosses, but you don’t have to let them negatively impact your career.

Things to consider

There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with a difficult boss. Unless you’re prepared for these challenges, you will always react the same way, and therefore get trapped in that negative cycle.

  1. No one can make you feel a certain way unless you give them permission.

As we explore difficult bosses, I’d like you to think about how you REACT in these situations. And then, think about how you’d like to feel, think and RESPOND to future situations.

  1. Responding is different than reacting.

When you respond, you mentally prepare  the outcome in advance. Steven Covey would say,  “begin with the end in mind”. What end do you have in mind? What outcomes would you like to see? Would you like to get a grip on your own anger (or tears)? Or perhaps you would like to be more assertive. Do you want the confidence to speak up and the wisdom to quiet down?

Solutions that work

You may have read books or attended programs on how to deal with difficult people. They provide you with tips on how to respond like a “type B.” personality. In other words, be passive. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the technique works with the type of person you’re applying it with! The problem comes in when you implement a technique that either doesn’t work or only defuses the other person. They leave with feeling good about themselves, while you’re stuck with their leftover hanger.

What are you supposed to do now?

  1. Know what triggers push your hot buttons. To make effective changes, you must know and challenge these triggers.
  2. Recognize how culture, upbringing and personality influence your perceptions and reactions. Choose which reactions to keep in your life and which ones to replace.
  3. Implement healthy conflict resolution strategies. Replace old reactions with new responses, along with behavioural changes to establish a lifelong change.
  4. De-escalate volatile situations. Bring out the best in people, rather than the worst. Do this for even the most problematic people. Learn when to stand your ground and when to walk away.

In these days of downsizing, responsibilities are often shared by fewer staff members. This bad boss may not share your values. The newer generation of workers expect that they can use their vacation time and take action to make work-life balance a priority. Not all bosses share these views. If your values are out of sync with those of your boss, you do have a problem.

Telling the boss he’s a “bad boss” is counterproductive and won’t help you meet your goals.

Share your stories of bad bosses and tell us how you’ve dealt with the challenge.


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