Dealing with a Difficult Boss

Some days are great, others less so

The world is full of a variety of bosses. These include great bosses who appreciate their employees and their time and controlling bosses that can sometimes be hard to work with.

Understandable that you’d want to keep working for a good boss and quit working for a difficult boss, right? But the world isn’t black and white. Some bosses are a mix of good and bad depending on the day. The good days can be great, and the bad can hard to work through.

Luckily, there are a few ways to deal with a difficult boss. Let’s dig in!

  1. If you love the job, stick with it. But make sure to have a plan B. Although it’s possible you’ll be able to deal with your boss’ habits without issues, or that they’ll overcome whatever is causing their occasional unprofessional behavior, it’s also possible you’ll eventually grow weary of how they treat you and choose to move on to a new position. Keeping your options open ensures you have a backup plan.
  2. Figure out when/why they have negative reactions. Your boss isn’t always in opposition to you, right? Odds are they have certain triggers, which could range from not getting their morning coffee to a difficult meeting with their kid’s teacher. Make notes on when your boss is particularly troubled, and don’t approach them during those times.
  3. Give your boss plenty of space. If your boss is having a bad day, stay out of their way. Keep email communication frequent so you have a record of what was said, but it may not be the best time for an in-person discussion. Give them some space to work through their situation.
  4. Realize it probably isn’t personal. Remember, your boss is a person just like you. Their moods could have a variety of causes, from their health to relationship drama. Recognizing that their negative behavior might have nothing to do with you can make them much less scary. However, if their behavior does become targeted and personal, you might need to speak with someone on your HR team.

So, what now?

If you can, try to have a heart-to-heart with your boss. They might not know how their behavior is affecting you. But if that doesn’t work, or if your boss’s behavior becomes harassment, speak to HR. The occasional outburst is one thing. Outright abusive behavior is another. And if speaking to HR still doesn’t improve things, it might be time to quit.

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