How To Get By If You Have A Horrible Boss

I’d imagine you’ve probably experienced at least one horrible boss during your career (especially if you’re reading this article). The Controlling Boss. The Blaming Boss. The Know-It-All Boss. The Distrustful Boss.

Any of those sound familiar? Perhaps they all do.

The good news is you don’t have to be a victim. Check out these six actions you can take to get your power back and better manage the situation:

1. Remember it’s not you.

It may not be a comfort when you’re on the receiving end of the Horrible Boss’s behavior, but know this — the behavior you’re witnessing is the result of fear. Horrible Bosses are afraid. They’re afraid someone will see they aren’t good at their job. They’re showing a lack of trust in you because they don’t trust themselves. They’re trying to control everything because they fear failure. They’re putting you down because they’re trying to raise themselves up.

Although it can be challenging to feel compassion for bosses who exude such negative energy, keep in mind that the cause of the behavior is fear. Perhaps you can muster up some empathy. If not, at least remind yourself (as often as needed) that their actions are not a reflection of you, but a reflection of their insecurities.

2. Shift your energy.

Does your stomach churn when your boss’s name shows up in your inbox? Do you feel your shoulders tense up when your boss enters the conference room? It can be a disempowering drag, but it’s time to shift your energy — for your own sake. And you can shift your internal energy immediately by doing something physical.

First, breathe. Taking deep breaths and focusing on your breath can be healing. Breathe in some positive energy and exhale out the negativity and frustration.

If you can, step out of the office and take a walk. Not only will you get some fresh air, but the distance can give you a new perspective.

Smile! Sometimes you can force the shift of energy more with a smile. Try it. It can really make a difference.

3. Share your story.

It’s not healthy to keep feelings of disempowerment and frustration bottled up. It’s important to acknowledge them and let them out. While I don’t promote office gossip, perhaps there’s a trusted co-worker with whom you can share your situation and feelings. You may also want to talk with someone in your Human Resources Department or your Employee Assistance Program. The intention should not be to bash your boss, but to figure out how to better the situation in a healthy way.

4. Increase your boss’s awareness.

This is gutsy. If you can, look for opportunities to increase your Horrible Boss’s awareness of how he or she is affecting the success of the team. Is there an opportunity during performance review discussions? Does your boss participate in 360-degree feedback assessments? Are there employee surveys available to share constructive feedback?

You can also look for opportunities to ask your boss some open-ended questions. Some examples: What were your thoughts on how that meeting went? What do you think the reaction may be of the team? What do you think we can do to improve the situation for next time? Use these questions to facilitate a conversation and provoke some introspection by your boss.

5. Be a role model.

When you have opportunities to model more positive energy or a higher level of leadership, do it. You never know, you just might help your boss realize there’s a better way.

6. Evaluate if it’s worth staying.

Many people leave their jobs because of incompatibility with their boss or poor management. Especially if you’ve been with the company for a while, take the opportunity to check in with yourself and evaluate if you want to stick around. Your health and well-being shouldn’t be sacrificed because of a Horrible Boss.

Have you ever had an experience with a Horrible Boss? How did you handle it? Share your story using the comments section below.

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