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How to Work with a Difficult Boss

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When they go low, we go high.

-Michelle Obama

Conflict can happen within teams, management, departments, and more within a company. Conflict happens because of a difference in ideas, execution styles, managerial styles and so much more. No matter how big or small, conflict will arise. No one works in a place without conflict of some sort. So, what do you do when you experience conflict in your position? What happens when conflict is in your department and with your manager?

First, you must determine if the conflict is truly business-related or is it personal. Here are a few things to consider before you decide how to deal with the uncomfortable feeling in your workplace

  • Is the conflict about business duties and expectations and nothing more?
  • Is your boss making personal, inappropriate comments and feedback towards you?
  • Or, is your boss giving you constructive criticism and you dislike receiving bad news?
  • Are you hostile in your responses?
  • Are you taking communication personally?
  • Are you taking care of all duties with due diligence and attention?

There are several reasons why conflict exists between bosses and employees, one huge reason being a lack of communication. Another is cultural or generational differences. If you have a difficult boss that you can't please or understand, apply the following tips:

Related Teachable Course: Assertive Communication Featuring Camille Tenerife

Stay organized at all times.

Document everything! Double and triple spell-check everything. Keep a paper trail for as many face-to-face conversations and phone calls you have. Keep as many instant messages as you can. Screenshot or use the snipping tool to collect important information and save it. Keep all correspondence in a safe place for future reference.

Create labeled folders on your computer or at your desk. Create files to stay prepared for questions and requests that may arise. Microsoft OneNote is a lifesaver for those in administrative positions. Be organized at all times and save everything!

Stay one step ahead.

Being proactive is the best decision you can make when dealing with a difficult boss. When you stay one step ahead,  you lessen the amount of time and communication needed. Learn how your boss thinks and operates. Study them. Soon, you'll know exactly what they look for and why. You'll understand what's expected of you in your position.

Getting work done correctly on time, the first time and ahead of schedule is always the plan. Try to position yourself and your work in a way to answer questions that will arise. Have support ready in case it's needed at a later date.

Control your experience.

It is hard to remain calm when you have someone belittling your efforts and position. There is a lack of trust between both parties. Frustration is present. You dread coming to work. It's especially hard when someone’s aim is to misunderstand you.

An important thing to remember:

You can only control your response. You can not control how they act or conduct themselves at work, but you can control your response.

Control what you write and what you say. Be confident when working with them. Never write an email or message that you wouldn't want read aloud in court. Never give ammunition to your boss to use against you in any way.

Difficult bosses are a test of your patience! The experience may be horrible, but there are lessons when dealing with them. They will teach you how to remain consistent and proactive. They also teach you what not to do and how not to treat your employees.

The best way to work with a difficult boss is to study them. Understand their triggers and when they react to certain things. Stay a step ahead of them at all times to avoid those triggers. Don't take things personally. Do your job with little to no mistakes on a consistent basis.

 If all else fails, find a boss that has a different managerial style. Never sacrifice your peace for a boss or position. If you like your company, consider changing departments. Perform your best in your position now and make the best moves going forward while protecting your peace and sanity.


Have You Ever Had To Deal With A Difficult Boss? How Did You Handle It? What Tips Do You Guys Have For Dealing With Difficulty And Negativity In The Workplace?

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