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Employees: How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

two people talking stern faced

At some point in just about everyone’s career, we have to deal with a difficult person. And in the past, we’ve given you some tips on dealing with difficult clients as well as difficult co-workers.

But what about when it comes to dealing with a difficult boss?

That can end up being a whole different story. Unlike a client or peer, working with a difficult boss takes walking a fine line between letting problems slide, and leveling with them about their shortcomings–a situation no one wants to be in.

To help you avoid these kinds of situations, we are going to talk about different ways to help you deal with difficult bosses. For today, we’ll talk about a few kinds of bosses who often present us with trouble. Take a look below:

  • The emotional boss. These bosses usually finds themselves on a roller-coaster ride, and unfortunately, they end up making you join along. This could be a boss who gets extremely sad then angry and likes to have a few screaming matches, or one who is joking one minute and becomes stern the next. As a result, you might not know exactly where you stand with them. The worst part is that unlike clients or co-workers, you can’t really ignore your boss, since they are overseeing your work.
  • The condescending boss. These bosses are notoriously hard to please and they’ll most likely spend more time critiquing your work than giving you positive feedback. In turn, you’ll probably find yourself running in a few unnecessary circles, which can really damage productivity and efficiency.
  • The stubborn boss. These bosses usually abide by the “my way or the highway” mantra. In turn, it can be really hard for you to give any input, which can really put a damper on innovation.
  • The very hands-off boss. The hands-off boss can be kind of strange. While it is great that they give you the freedom to work as you please, the unfortunate downfall is that when you need direction, they aren’t there to give it to you. In turn, the risk of screwing up on big projects is greater, when it could’ve been easily avoided with a little guidance.

But fear not: there are plenty of ways to handle these situations. So, whether it is a boss who lacks direction, gets too emotional, or is just plain intimidating, here are some of our tips on how to deal with them. Take a look below:

  • Keep your cool. First things first, if and when you decide to address a problem with a boss, you need make sure that you keep your cool. Nothing is worse than losing your temper when you are trying to prove that you’ve been treated wrong, so always try to keep yourself in check.
  • Pick your battles. Though it would be nice, not every problem needs to be addressed, especially when it comes to dealing with our bosses. As a general rule, we would suggest taking a moment and considering whether addressing the situation is worth it–especially with emotional or condescending bosses.
  • Consider their point-of-view. Leaders usually have a lot on their plate, and in some cases these things can really stress them out. As such, it is always a good idea to try and take a walk in their shoes when you are addressing their shortcomings. Doing so can help ensure that you get your point across while still being understanding about why they may be stressed and taking things out on you, or not performing their job (as you see it).
  • Keep it private. Leaders also have an image to uphold, so when you approach them it is best to do it in private. Not only is it much more professional to do so, but it will also increase the likelihood that your boss will take your case more seriously.
  • Speak to their higher-up. Though not our first choice, when all else fails, you might want to consider speaking to your boss’ higher up. Sometimes, getting a neutral party can help to ensure that both parties are treated fairly and that things will move along faster and more smoothly.

Have any tips that you’d like to add to our list? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!


photo credit: UnitedSoybeanBoard via photopin cc


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