How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

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The relationship with your supervisor has a large impact on nearly every aspect of your work life. It can affect daily assignments, promotional opportunities, your productivity, but most importantly, your sense of worth and well-being.

Even though it’s difficult to do with a boss, it’s essential to determine and address the cause. To do that, you should first define the problem. For example, does the boss treat you unfairly, expect too much, ignore you, undermine you, etc.? Once you’ve determined the issue, the next step is to figure out what to do about it.

Here are some tactics you can employ when approaching this challenging workplace quandary.


  1. Understand Why

Examine your supervisor’s behavior and try to determine the source of it. For example, does your boss treat everyone this way or just you? Is your supervisor always difficult to deal with, or when deadlines approach or sales are down? If your supervisor is under a great deal of pressure, trying to see things from their perspective is invaluable and enables you to address the issue with your supervisor’s interests in mind.


  1. Look in the Mirror

Are actions you’ve taken contributing to the problematic relationship? Have you missed deadlines, publicly argued with your boss, had attendance problems, been challenging to get along with, etc.? If you discover your behaviors may influence the relationship, address them first.


  1. Approach Your Boss

Honesty when expressing how your boss’s behavior makes you feel is essential, but so are tact and thoughtfulness. When defining the problem, focus on the behavior, not the person. Never base your contentions on rumors or innuendo; don’t raise issues unless they affect you. Give your supervisor options to address the issues that bother you. Offer to work with them and do your part to improve the situation. Finally, be result oriented in your approach.


  1. Put Yourself in Your Boss’s Shoes

Try to determine the challenges your boss is experiencing and figure out how you can play a role in helping them. For example, employees who make them look good are highly valued by bosses. On the other hand, it could be that their behavior is due to personal issues that have nothing to do with you. It may be tricky to ascertain what is causing your boss’s conduct towards you. Still, the more understanding you have, the better you’ll be able to address the situation objectively and achieve positive results.


  1. Keep It to Yourself

Avoid the temptation of the safety-in-numbers approach. You wouldn’t like it if your colleagues collectively criticized you, and neither does your boss. Address your issues with your supervisor privately and not in the court of public opinion. If you stand on your soapbox, your boss has allies and will hear about it.


The key is to evaluate the situation professionally and take positive steps to remedy it. Do that, and you’ll significantly increase your chances of success.

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