While it’s no revelation that a bad boss can make your work life unpleasant, research shows that dealing with the stress of a bad boss can actually make you physically ill; increasing your risk of heart problems, obesity and depression.
Some bosses are undeniably worse than others, but many employees say that dealing with their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job. According to a 2012 survey two thirds of workers would rather have a new boss than a pay rise.
Finding a new job is the surest way to solve this problem, but if leaving your job isn’t an option, the following tips hopefully will help you to cope:
1. Take the high road
It’s not easy to remain civil and accommodating if you feel like your boss is being unfair or making unreasonable demands, but with your professional reputation on the line it’s important not to let your performance suffer as a result of your boss’s poor behaviour.
If you need to vent, keep your emotions in check until you get home rather than bringing your co-workers into the situation.
Sharing frustrations with others at work often only increases tensions and can even get you into trouble.
2. Try to understand your boss’s motivations
Understanding your boss’s motivations will help you to better manage expectations.
He or she undoubtedly has pressures to deal with and objectives to meet, which may be partly responsible for the bad behaviour.
Once you understand why your supervisor is putting so much pressure on you or lashing out about seemingly insignificant things, you can work to find a solution.
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3. Match your work style to your boss’s
Everyone has their own preferences, style of working and pet peeves.
So even if your way of doing things isn’t necessarily wrong, matching your work style to your boss’s could help things run more smoothly.
For instance, some bosses might like to receive frequent updates, while others may prefer for you to just ‘get on with it.’ Knowing which style to use, and when, can help you to work better as a team.
4. Be proactive
Working with someone every day means you can usually predict the type of situations that trigger bad behaviour, which puts you in a good position to prepare for sticky situations or even avoid them altogether.
For instance, if you’ve noticed that your boss tends to be moody towards the end of the day, try to discuss important matters first thing in the morning.
When you’re given a new assignment, ensure you clearly understand your role by repeating it back to your boss and asking him or her to confirm that you’ve understood.
5. Don’t suffer in silence
This might seem like a cliché, but honest communication is still the most effective way to deal with issues in the workplace.
If you’ve never said anything to your boss, he or she may simply be unaware of the problem.
Figure out exactly what you want to say, and then schedule a meeting to discuss the issues. Also try to identify what you do like about your work, as starting the discussion with a few positives will help keep the tone constructive.
6. Keep records of all communications
Before approaching your boss or HR to discuss the problem, it’s good to have clear documentation of what’s bothering you.
For example, if your boss often contradicts his or her initial instructions, having documentation of the original request will prevent you from getting caught up in petty “he said, she said” discussions.
You can get verbal instructions in writing by sending a brief email outlining the assignment and asking your boss to confirm it.
7. Look for non-destructive ways to let off steam
While you might be tempted to respond to your boss’s unpleasantness with an emotional outburst, there are more effective and less destructive ways to let off steam.
You can also try relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation to calm your body’s natural stress response.
Hopefully these tips will help you to cope better with a difficult boss.
Have you ever had a difficult boss? How did you cope? Share in the comments below.