The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Your Difficult Boss

The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing Your Difficult Boss

October 25, 2018 by Tony Nguyen

If you don’t get on with your boss, it can make life at work extremely challenging. Whether you’ve recently had a falling out, or you’ve never really clicked, ignoring it won’t make the problem disappear – in fact, it will often make it worse.

The good news is that there is plenty you can do to improve the situation – and some things you should definitely avoid. In this article we’re sharing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your relationship with your boss.


Do show empathy and see things from their perspective

In any difficult relationship, it’s always helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Take a minute to consider your boss as a person, not just your manager. What is their life like outside of work? What challenges are they facing? What are their aspirations and goals? Seeing things from your manager’s perspective allows you to feel empathy and acknowledge any issues your boss is facing, both at home and at work. This helps you see the bigger picture and provides an insight into how you can best support them if they’re under pressure or doing it tough.


Do talk openly to your boss

It’s hard to summon the courage to express your concerns with your boss at the best of times, but especially so when the relationship is already rocky. However, it’s no good letting things bubble away and become bigger issues either, so try putting a positive spin on it. Instead of approaching your boss with a complaint, try rephrasing it as a suggestion – that way, you’re offering a solution rather than a problem.


Do provide positive feedback when it’s due

Employees can often feel under appreciated if they receive little or no positive feedback – and bosses can too! Remember to say thanks when your manager follows through on a promise, solves a problem or supports you in large or small ways. You should always share any positive feedback you hear about the company or your team with them too – they’re sure to appreciate it.


Don’t get caught up focusing on the negative

When things are bad at work, it’s easy to get trapped in a negative frame of mind – but this will get you nowhere fast. Don’t come to work and obsess over the issues you’re having with your boss. Instead concentrate on the things you can control. Work hard in your role and focus on being a valued contributor to your team. And when it comes to dealing with your boss, treat each day as an opportunity to improve the situation, by implementing the strategies mentioned above.


Don’t take it personally, but don’t put up with abuse

Try not to take it personally every time your boss is short or snaps at you. It can help to look for the underlying reasons for their bad mood. Are they under pressure and not coping with the stress? Do they have a looming deadline? Or do they just have poor communication skills? This doesn’t mean you should sit there and put up with whatever they dish out, and certainly never abuse or bullying of any kind. But don’t get offended over every little thing. Work is stressful, and pressure can bring out the best and worst in people.


Don’t badmouth your boss

As tempting as it may be to share horror stories with a co-worker on your break, bitching about your manager will not help and can often come back to bite. If you need to discuss issues with your fellow employees, keep it nice and don’t say anything you wouldn’t be comfortable saying directly to your boss.


Don’t be afraid to call it a day

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try the situation cannot be resolved. If you find yourself banging your head against a wall despite your best efforts, don’t be afraid to make the call to look for a position elsewhere. You’re better off taking action than staying in an unhealthy and unchanging situation.


Final Word on Managing a Difficult Boss

Working with a difficult boss is tough. But when you focus on what you can do to improve the relationship – and avoid the things that make it worse – there’s a good chance you can turn it around.

However, if your best efforts fail, know when enough is enough and make the decision to look for an opportunity elsewhere. Your leaving will send a message, and you can be comfortable knowing you did your best to make things right.


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