Working for a Difficult Boss


If you’re working for a difficult boss, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to you.

Still, sympathy doesn’t make the bad boss go away. So here are some tips on how to work with a difficult boss.

First of all, if your boss is making your life miserable, here are a few things you should not do:

Don’t stoop to his or her behavior, especially if there’s shouting, derision and rudeness.
Don’t be meek and “just take it.”
Don’t avoid interacting with your boss.
Don’t start missing work just because you want to avoid your boss.

You should sit down and figure out what you believe to be the source of your conflict with your boss. Is it truly a personality clash, or is it because you and your boss have a different way of looking at the world of work?

If you feel you and your boss clash because you look at the world differently, try these tips:

  • Remember that the two of you are different and you don’t have to see or feel things in the same way in order to get along at work.
  • Work to solve your disagreement; don’t try to win the argument. Compromise should become your middle name.
  • Go to your boss in a conciliatory manner. Ask for his or her thoughts, ideas, and reasons about an issue and really listen to what your boss has to say.
  • Compliment your boss on any suggestions or ideas you like, then suggest your own ideas. Explain how these will benefit your company. You also may want to bring up the drawbacks to your ideas and how you could go about fixing these “problems.” It’s always a good idea to highlight both pros and cons — it makes it appear you’ve given balanced thought to your ideas.

If you and your boss have a personality clash, consider these points:

  • Does your boss tread everyone poorly, or is it just you?
  • If it’s just you, do the two of you have some unresolved beef going on between you?
  • Be honest – is there really something your boss legitimately can dislike about you, such as poor performance, lackadaisical attitude or some other on-the-job issue?
  • Do you have issues with other people? If so, maybe it’s not your boss; maybe it’s you.

Once you’ve figured out the “why,” it’s time to see “how” you can fix the relationship with your boss.

  • Keep calm. Your boss may have bad people skills. Don’t take the bad behavior personally.
  • When you approach your boss, do so calmly and reasonably. If your boss starts yelling, don’t yell back. Instead, calmly state that you don’t appreciate being spoken to in such a manner.
  • If your boss says something with which you can agree, say so. People often rant because they feel they’re aren’t being heard or validated. Agreeing with your boss, even if it’s on something minor, can go a long way to opening the lines of communication.
  • Discuss your needs calmly and clearly.
  • If your boss shows aggressive or abusive behavior, contact your boss’ supervisor or your human resources department.

If, no matter how hard you try, your relationship with your boss still is fraught with stress and difficulty, it may be time to begin looking for your next opportunity. If so, bring your resume to RealStreet Staffing. We can help you find your next great opportunity at some of Washington DC’s best construction, engineering and architecture firms. Contact us today.

RealStreet has proven to be a trusted resource for me for critical facility staffing needs. They strive to understand client requirements and resource them fully with a minimum of contractual actions to enable the support. I am quite satisfied with their services and give my complete recommendation.

Colonel Stuart Harrison, PE, USA (ret)

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