How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

Bosses that are difficult, unprofessional, inconsistent or just plain bullying are nearly impossible to work with. How do you cope with bosses like this? There are many strategies you can adopt to win over a difficult or impossible boss. Here are a just a few to consider if you find yourself facing an impossible or no-win situation.

deal with difficult boss

1. Remain active. Do not give up or become aloof. Instead, become proactive in the matter. Develop a plan of action. This will free you from such thinking. If your boss goes off on you, rather than act intimidated, display confidence, which can help reduce bullying behavior.

2. Plan for bad behavior. Most people act in predictable ways. Thus, if you can define your boss’s behavior, and determine ahead of time when your boss misbehaves, you can come up with a retort that is appropriate, and well within the lines of acceptable behavior on the job. For example, come up with an appropriate response for your bosses criticisms. This will help you claim your rightful place on the job. For example, you might let your boss know how you feel. Let your boss know when your boss criticizing you inappropriate, that it doesn’t motivate you on the job. You might say, “When you speak to me like that, I do not feel motivated to work well on the job.” Or, you might say something along the lines of, “When we are yelled at on the job, we do not feel like our work is valued, and it makes it difficult to concentrate.” This not only makes a point, but it directs attention on behaviors and performance. This is not accusatory, and is very successful in making a point and helping redirect behaviors.

3. Remove yourself from bad behavior. If your boss begins making a scene, or yelling and raving, you always have the option of removing yourself from this environment. No one has to stand for harassment or tolerate it on the job. You are protected legally from such an environment. A good response for such behavior might be, “I will return when you feel ready to discuss this in a calm manner.” This lets your boss know that you will not discuss any type of work performance or issue while your boss is not acting toward you in a respectful manner. Remember that you deserve to be respected while on the job. Don’t stand for misbehavior on the job. Be prepared with several of these responses ahead of time. If your coworkers feel the same way, you may all be prepared for several similar responses. When more than one person acts and responds in the same way, then a person is less likely to continue with bad behaviors, because the individual in question realizes that such behaviors are unsuccessful in accomplishing any type of response or intimidation.

4. Remain firm. If you plan to change your situation with a difficult boss, you will need to be firm and persistent. It takes time to change a situation, particularly a difficult one. You may not receive support. If this is the case, do not back down. Stand up for your rights.

5. Document. If you feel that your boss’s bad behavior constitutes harassment that violates the law, or even if it does not, document what is going on. While it is not right for your boss to do what he or she is doing, your boss may feel that he is in the right. Your boss may try to take action against you for speaking up. If this is the case, it is important that you document your boss’s behavior.

It may be necessary for you to seek help from human resources. The human resources department at your organization may need to speak with your boss or take disciplinary action against your boss in extreme situations. If this is the case, be sure to bring your documentation with you, including any discussion you have had with your boss regarding behavior. You may also consider approaching human resources with other employees, which may lend more credibility to your argument. Remember to remain calm and reasonable when discussing any behaviors that you would like to see changed. This will help you when speaking with human resources about any problems you have had with your boss in an employment situation.

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