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Working With a Difficult Boss

Jul 13, 2008
All of us know what it's like - dealing with that angry boss who seems to get angry too fast and too often. He or she expects tasks to be performed within unreasonable deadlines, and completely discounts the fact that you also do need quality time away from work.

You of course have the option of resorting to outright confrontation, and this could possibly lead to verbal sparring and angry outbursts. The worst case scenario is that you could end up quitting or conversely, you might be asked to leave.

Control your own Behaviour

The first thing you have to realize is that the only person whose actions you can control and direct is your own. Don't even bother trying to change other people - they will probably only end up disliking you for it.

You can, however, direct some of the more potentially heated confrontations by adapting a non-confrontational attitude. Be clear, firm and assertive without resorting to loud or aggressive acts yourself. In most instances, this can already work to cool the heads of people involved.

Good communication

It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of clear communication. This means the ability to speak clearly without being ambiguous or leaving the potential of being misunderstood.

While it means avoiding rude, angry or emotional outbursts, it also means not resorting to the opposite but equally unhelpful means of communication. This includes sulking, unreasonable silence, and a too-obvious avoidance of your boss. Many times, the best strategy is really keeping to the middle ground.

Learning how to communicate effectively is a skill like any other. Thus, it can be learned and developed. Over time, it can help to define a better working relationship with other people.

Put yourself in his shoes

Perhaps your boss is dealing with some conflict in his own life, or is resolving some troubles of his own. Granted, this really isn't a valid reason for him to lash out at you or anyone else who might not have anything to do with his problems. However, it does help if you understand that your boss is human too, and that he has problems of his own to deal with.

If anything, it can pave the way for a more empathetic interaction where you do not unduly discount what might actually be very important to another person. Hence, don't bring problems to his or her attention when he is obviously wrestling with difficulties of his own. He won't likely be inclined to be generous.

And when you do approach him, be sure that you have reasoned out your arguments well enough to be able to rationally address any objections he might raise. Not only can this prevent you from getting hostile, but it can also help him to see your value as an employee - regardless of his personal problems, and why you deserve a raise, a promotion, or the right to be heard in a matter in which you feel strongly about.


This can mean an agreement to disagree. This can also mean that you agree not to pursue issues that can no longer be resolved. Ultimately, this means that you have to learn to be comfortable with the fact that you cannot please everybody, and that some problems cannot be resolved. This is no reason to beat yourself up over it.
About the Author
Benedict Smythe recommends PDL Courses for training in most professional skills including assertiveness skills and Supervisory Management skills
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