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Social & Interpersonal Skills

Here’s How to Deal with a Boss You Hate (Without Quitting!)

At one time or another, you’ve more than likely found yourself working for a boss you can’t stand. Perhaps you’re in that position now. A bad supervisor or manager can make even the best job insufferable and leave you yearning for their replacement. When trying to decide how to deal with a boss you hate without jeopardizing your position, follow the tips below.

Before taking any of the following steps, spend a day simply observing how you respond to your boss. Do you find yourself tense, angry, or anxious after an encounter with them? Do you experience physical symptoms of stress such as headaches, nausea, or heart-racing? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then take this advice:

Unwind physically

Many times, stress is made manifest through symptoms in the body. In order to release this stress, plan a physical routine that will allow your body to burn off all the negative energy. Ideas include more intensive activities such as exercise, running, or dance, as well as calmer activities such as following a daily skin care regimen, walking your dog, or washing the dishes.

Unwind mentally

Releasing physical stress is only part of the strategy when it comes to dealing with a boss you hate. You’ll also need to find ways to mentally unwind and bring yourself to a calmer state. This can include asking yourself questions to help you focus on what you need to accomplish. It can also include changing the direction of your thoughts with a book or music. Doing so will allow you to refocus on what’s important and help you get through your day.

Unwind verbally

Sometimes talking with friends or trusted co-workers can help you release some of the stress you experience when dealing with your boss. They may even have some tips of their own for you to try. You can also deescalate a negative experience with your boss by validating their concerns while also expressing your plan of action. This can turn a bad encounter into a more positive one.

Unwind by following procedure

When deciding what to do when you hate your boss but love your job, look to your company’s policies or operations manuals. They often provide guidelines for manager-employee interactions and may offer some insight into dealing with a problematic supervisor. Checking back in with a difficult boss to let them know you are implementing any changes that you discussed can also provide them with reassurance and help ensure that your encounters remain calm.

After employing the strategies above, it may help you further understand how to deal with a boss you hate by classifying them as one of the following five types of difficult supervisors:

The boss who plays head games

This type of boss likes to keep your mental, emotional, and physical environment in constant upheaval. They’ll change rules and orders without warning and often for no apparent reason. They’ll constantly critique your work or undermine your ability to complete your tasks. They may even resort to yelling as an intimidation tactic or to further destabilize your work surroundings.

The boss with the superiority complex

Bosses who think of themselves as superior to those around them often approach work situations with the attitude that they’re always right. They tend to have an over-exaggerated sense of importance and like to control the details of everything happening around them. This type of boss can lash out against employees that threaten their sense of power, claim responsibility for good ideas that weren’t theirs, or refuse to listen to the input of employees or other co-workers.

The boss with bad boundaries

This kind of boss often has a strategy for gaining or keeping their position of power or may be taking advantage of the power they already possess. For example, a boss with poor boundaries may develop a crush on an employee or co-worker and act on it, try to trick employees into sharing sensitive information by acting like a confidant, or serve as the office gossip.

Read More: How To Adjust To A New Boss When You’re In The Same Job

The boss who dodges responsibility

A responsibility-avoiding boss will go to great lengths to stay out of difficult situations. They may disappear when a crucial decision has to be made so they can’t be blamed if it goes poorly. They might fail to support or defend an employee who was wrongly accused, or conveniently forget directions or decisions they made when things don’t go as planned. Sometimes this type of boss has been in their position for so long that they might even be viewed as untouchable when it comes to disciplinary or corrective action.

The boss in an uncomfortable situation

This refers to a boss that might once have been your colleague but was recently promoted. It can also refer to a boss that clearly (but truly unconsciously) discriminates between their employees, or seems to have purposely singled out an employee for constant persecution. This type of boss can be difficult to approach and the situation may require you to seek their supervisor for an appropriate resolution.

Once you’ve been able to identify which type of issue you’re dealing with, you can figure out how to deal with a boss you hate by employing a few more helpful strategies.

Establish common-ground with your boss

Maybe you both own Labrador Retrievers. Maybe you both like to vacation in Hawaii, or maybe you went to the same school. Even if the shared ground between you is tiny, take advantage of it by letting it offer a bit of commonality. This can help to smooth over differences at work and might even move you to your bosses “good side.”

Find projects that interest your boss

Self-important bosses or bosses who have held the same position for too long are often uninterested in anything suggested by those they work with. This means you may not be able to advance your idea of reorganizing your company’s data or replacing all that outdated tech. However, if you find a project your boss is interested in, you may find a task you can work on together, and your boss will feel the two of you are on the same page.

Find validation elsewhere

Bosses who constantly criticize your work or take credit for your ideas rob you of the validation you need to remain a good employee. If you enjoy your job but hate your boss, look for opportunities outside of your department or under a different supervisor where your skills and performance will be appreciated. Perhaps you can volunteer for a project or join a task force in a different division to give you the space and validation you need to keep your performance high.

Surround yourself with positivity

Whether you work in a private office, a classroom, or a cubicle, do your best to make your physical work surroundings a place you enjoy. Put up pictures of friends and family, display artwork that you find inspirational, bring in some of your favorite scents, or set up things that remind you of your favorite hobbies. Doing so can help you re-center and refocus after returning from an unpleasant encounter with your boss.

Limit your interactions with your boss

Though this may not be possible in all job positions, try and keep your interactions with your boss to a minimum. This is perhaps one of the most important tips when learning how to deal with a boss you hate. The less you have to be around them, the less their energy can affect you. When interaction is necessary, keep it brief and to the point then drop any negativity behind you at their door when you leave the room.

The tips above are not only useful in dealing with a boss you hate but also when figuring out how to deal with a boss you don’t trust or that you don’t respect. These situations create similar environments, and finding ways to employ the above strategies will help you make your work surroundings a better, less-stressful place.

Learning how to deal with a boss you hate may be difficult at the outset, but if you love your job, it will be well worth it in the long run. Keep in mind that you may only need to deal with that particular boss for a relatively short time before you can be promoted, transferred to another location, or even find a new job with all the work experience you’ve gained. It can also prepare you for becoming a manager or supervisor yourself and teach you how to establish a positive rapport with those who work under you. Keeping a job you enjoy despite having a boss you hate is possible with a little positivity and determination!

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