Just Three Ways to Deal with a Difficult Boss

Unless you plan on quitting your day job and becoming your own boss, it’s in your best interest to develop a better relationship with the person you report to at your job. And if just uttering those words makes you want to cry, then there are just three things you can do instead…

  1. Relabel them

We automatically place labels on people based on our experiences with them. Positive experiences, encourage positive labels which foster positive relationships, and of course, negative experiences do the exact opposite. Having a difficult boss naturally sparks off “interesting” conversations at work, and if we’re not conscious of it, can often have greater negative impacts on how we feel about our work and our work environment in general. When working for someone quite “challenging” a while back, I thought about the labels I was placing on them and how negatively this affected me. Knowing my boss wasn’t going to change, I knew I had to change something for my own sake— and I did. I decided to change the label I had given my boss to that of “Entertainer”, thinking about the amount of entertainment their daily faux pas provided us with. While this was helpful and instantly changed the way I interacted with them, I went one step further and imagined my boss as a circus entertainer in a clown outfit. Worked a treat— Change the label, change your perspective.

  1. The Circus Music Technique

The “circus music technique” is a really simple NLP technique that I love to use in so many situations. Imagine I’ve had a run-in with my boss at work and it’s literally replaying over and over again in my head, as we often do with negative experiences, right? I know that repeating the scene is not doing me any good, but I’m finding it hard to stop it and just move on. Changing aspects of the negative scene works brilliantly to help us move on, and one of the things I personally do as the scene starts to replay in my head is to play some really loud circus music over it. My boss is already labeled as an entertainer, I’ve dressed them in a clown suit, and adding the humorous tune further reduces the negative impact the situation had on me.

  1. Look for the positive Intention

It’s textbook stuff— you can see what your boss is doing wrong, your colleagues can see what the boss is doing wrong, even the DHL delivery person can see what your boss is doing wrong—The world and its mother can see it, except your boss. And while you can’t change your boss, you can always control your reaction to them and their behavior. Positive intention doesn’t mean the behavior will be positive for those around your boss (because it’s probably quite the contrary)  but it means looking for a positive reason as to why your boss could be acting the way they are. Could your boss be behaving this way out of fear? Could they be seeking more power? Could they be trying to appear more in control? What’s in it for them? Remember, it doesn’t make their actions right, this is about you empowering you to take greater control over your reactions and choosing a better response that works for you. After all, if you think about your boss being afraid of losing their job, notice how that triggers a different response in you…

Linda Bonnar works with executives as a Breakthrough Impostor Syndrome Coach to ignite their confidence, accept their seat at the top table and own their success. You can set up your free consultation with her today by contacting her on linda@lindabonnarcoaching.com