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Ways to Deal With a Bully Boss

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ways-to-deal-with-a-bully-bossDon't let an annoying boss take your sanity... or your job.

A recent Gallup poll concluded something most cubicle-dwellers already know: The number one reason most people quit their jobs is their boss or immediate supervisor. Whether he or she is always blaming you for their failures, not recognizing you for your victories or is just plain mean, a bad boss can make life miserable.

The most difficult aspect of a strained relationship with your boss is that you can’t presumably just walk away. Quitting your job isn’t always an option.

Instead of simply putting up with poor treatment and/or fantasizing every night about that printer-smashing scene in Office Space, you need to figure out how to deal with it in a productive way.

Strategies for Working With a Jerk Boss

1. Communicate

Some of the best advice I ever received was that we treat people how to treat us. While you don’t have as much leeway with your boss as you do with your friends, always be sure to be as respectfully open with him or her as you can. If you feel you got passed over for a promotion, ask why. If you think he or she is making a poor decision, speak up when appropriate. You’ll feel better when you feel listened to, and even if you two don’t necessarily like each other, your relationship is bound to be easier if you are at least communicating.

2. Be Responsive, Not Reactive

If you get a frustrating email, wait at least 20 minutes before you hit reply. Don’t slam the door after a difficult meeting. Never yell “I quit!” in the heat of the moment. Difficult situations may merit a response, but give yourself a moment to cool down. Your decisions are always wiser when they’re made with your wits about you.

3. Define a Line

There’s a difference between an uncomfortable situation and a hostile work environment. If your boss is legitimately harassing you, discriminating against you or physically hurting you, that is unacceptable. That’s when you need to consult human resources or even the police, if the situation warrants that.

But, if the two of you are simply butting heads, make an agreement with yourself that unless things escalate to your defined “line,” you are committed to sticking it out. That will make deep breathing easier when your boss makes a snide comment or overlooks you for an assignment you’d be perfect for - because you can remind yourself that you're still here because you decide to be. Let your boss be a jerk. You’ll be the bigger person.

4. Find a Confidant

You’re probably spending an average of 40 or so weeks with this person, as a ‘yes man’ to someone you don’t get along with. That would break anyone’s spirit! You need to find someone to talk to. I definitely don’t recommend a co-worker because that could seriously land you in hot water. But, whether it’s your spouse, your mom, or your dog, find someone to vent your frustrations to. Letting things bottle up is not productive. Plus, you don’t want to risk a ‘blow-up’ during the quarterly earnings meeting.

Our careers are a big chunk of our life, and most of the time, we don’t always get to choose who we work with. Don’t let an annoying boss ruin your day or worse, get in the way of a promising career. You are brilliant, hard-working and worthy of respect. You’ve got this.

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