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Five steps to Dealing with a nightmare boss

Nightmare bosses can easily make life hell at work. Career Coach Fiona Wainrit, of Career Mojo shares her Top 5 Tips to effectively deal with them.

Nightmare bosses come in many forms: demanding, poor communicators, self-centred or arrogant, possess low emotional intelligence, or even clueless. They can quickly make us hate being at work, effect our moods and performance. However, it is possible to turn the situation around. This could be viewed as an opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

Hopefully the following strategies will provide you with a few tips on dealing with “the boss from hell”, so you can maintain sanity at work, rather then allow it to consume you.

1. Beat them to the chase- If they micro-manage or distrust you, why not get them off your back by sending them daily/ weekly updates, or work plans. Not only will this show you are on top of things, it is also an opportunity to ensure you’re on the same page regarding priorities. Likewise, be proactive by discussing new ideas regarding process improvements and anticipate any risks before they occur so you can be strategic rather than reactive. Perhaps initiate a meeting to discuss one of these issues. This will send a different message that you are committed and focused. If you’re lucky, he or she may even move onto someone else to antagonise.

2. Condition expectations- This is such a simple one that can easily be forgotten. If you are over-loaded with work, it is normal to complain to yourself or others. Next time your boss hands out an extra task to add to your already hectic workload, why not quickly come back with a realistic timeframe, so they know when to expect it? This presents another chance to explain what you are working on and ensure it’s in line with their priorities, whilst also conditioning expectations around delivery.

3. Speak their language- Don’t suck up! Trying too hard to impress or win over a difficult boss may not be the answer and will come across as insincere. You will also lose respect from your peers. You don’t need to be best mates with your boss. Think about your boss’s motivators and respond accordingly. For example, if your boss is dollar driven, then use numbers and monetary amounts when discussing results and outcomes. If they are emotionally driven, tap into their feelings about a particular project or task.Try to find the good in them, even if you need to dig deep. It may be something non work-related, like how they are with their family. Once we humanize people we don’t like, it’s easier to see their positive traits. Remember, it is possible they are also experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Maybe like you, they are unhappy with how they are handling this situation.

4. “Don’t worry, be happy”- Easier said then done, however the more you allow it to get to you, the worse it is. You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you choose to respond.. Carry out small actions to snap you out of your funk. Take a short walk outside, lunch with friends/ workmates, have photos on your desk of loved ones so you can quickly go to your ‘happy place’ when necessary.

5. Make up or break up- If you’ve exhausted all options and it becomes unbearable, then it may be time to start exploring other opportunities. Before you look externally, if you still like the company and it’s just your boss you have the problem with, consider taking a side-step into a different team or department, so you don’t need to report directly to him or her.  Otherwise if you decide to go external, ensure you do not bag your boss during the interview. Instead, focus on why you’d like to work for that particular company and what you can bring to the table.

Hope some of these strategies have proven handy.  I’ve tried many different techniques in the past from singing a silly song in my head every time I encountered the bully boss to breathing and relaxation techniques. Looking back at those times, there were definitely skills I acquired from the situation; resilience, patience, and ability to push back to name a few.

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