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Understanding and Dealing with a Difficult Boss

Understanding and Dealing with a Difficult Boss

We’ve all had one: a difficult boss. The difficult boss is one who sets a negative tone by being unapproachable, overly busy, and emphasizing the wrong things. These managers will likely fail in their duties at some point because of these traits, but in the meantime, their employees have to deal with them. Instead of simply sighing and going about your business, there are better ways of dealing with a manager who is difficult.

1. You Must Look Inward

First and foremost, you should see if the reason your boss is being difficult relates to you being difficult. Your boss may be acting or appearing busy every time you need help because you are constantly seeking help or approval. If you just started your job, that’s understandable. If you’ve been there for nearly a decade, it’s probably time to cut the cord.

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What if your boss is responding to you with snark, and not the fun kind, and you’ve noticed that she’s not like that with anyone else she manages? Maybe it’s your attitude and not hers. If it’s just this week, look for ways to adjust your attitude. A more regular occurrence? Then it’s time to seek more permanent solutions, like learning to cultivate your emotional intelligence (EQ) in order to better respond to your boss. Well-honed EQ can turn you from the employee your boss loathes into a great leader among your peers.

Try something even more radical. Change your diet. The foods we eat directly affect our health, both physical and mental. It’s a circle. Turn it from a vicious one to a virtuous one.

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2. You Must Try a Little Empathy

This might be hard for us to do when the issue is with our boss. If you’ve seen your boss treat others the way he treats you, it’s probably safe to pin an issue on your boss and not you. That’s always the worry when we have difficult interactions with people. We’re paranoid it’s us not them.

When you’ve established that your boss is the difficult one, you may have a hard time being empathic, but walking a mile in someone else’s proverbial shoes is an effective business tool. If you truly do need help, but your boss dismisses you because of yet another meeting, think about this: unless you work for the CEO, your boss has a boss too. Your boss may not be as in control of her schedule as you think she is.

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Take a deep breath and be proactive about making time with your boss to speak with her, not talk at her. If you have to schedule time on her calendar, so be it. That will get you started, and then you can tell her how you feel.

3. You Should Be the Peacemaker

Don’t be a peacekeeper. There’s a big difference. Being a peacemaker means being proactive in how you deal with people who make life at work difficult, from your boss to the office gossip. Peacekeepers keep to themselves and let the world of work pass them by; they let others do the dirty work. Office peacemakers don’t just make peace between themselves and their difficult bosses. Peacemakers are not afraid of ruffling a few feathers among peers in order to make the culture of the entire office a better place.

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There are seven important things a peacemaker does to maintain empathy and a health culture at work. Among those are recognizing that the solution to the problem could benefit the person with the issue. Another is using neutral ground, not the office, to have discussions about an issue. A third is choosing one issue, if there are many, on which to focus a discussion. Peacemaking is often most successful when clarity can be maintained. Muddying the waters is only going to make your boss more difficult.

4. You Must Cut and Run

Sometimes, you can only make so much peace before it’s time to get the hell out from under the tyranny of a difficult boss. You can only be so empathetic before it starts to seriously affect your mental health. Not only that, but that manager whose schedule is so busy she can’t find time to address your needs? Her lack of focus may well lead to the business’s failure. Get out while you can.

Featured photo credit: discussion/Nicolas Alejandro Street Photography via flickr.com

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H. E. James

Writer and researcher

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

11 Things Overachievers Do Differently

We all know some overachievers: supermoms who manage to get online degrees between cleaning, cooking, and taking kids to practice; students who write 10-page papers when the directions call for 4; managers whose resumes look more like pages from the Guinness book of Records.

How do they do it all? How is it possible that one person can graduate at the top of their class, found an orphanage in India, run 30k marathons, write a best-selling book, travel all over the world and learn to speak Mandarin Chinese while having a full-time job?

What’s the secret of an overachiever? Here’re 11 things overachievers do differently that you can learn from.

1. They Know How to Manage Their Time

It’s pretty simple actually – you can never become an overachiever if you don’t know how to organize your time efficiently.

The great thing is that overachievers are ready to share their knowledge and time management talent with the rest of the world. Read The 4-Hour Workweek or The 4-Hour Body by Timothy Ferriss, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

2. They Don’t Spend Hours Watching TV or Playing Computer Games

Mostly because they have better things to do, like exercising, reading, spending an evening with their family or volunteering to work in the local soup kitchen. Their philosophy is simple – the world is full of wonderful things to try, explore and experience. Watching TV is not one of them.

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3. They Are Obsessed With Perfection

Imagine Steve Jobs’ work approach and you’ll understand the level of perfection and painfully high standards that overachievers set for themselves and those around them. Often it pays off (especially if they focus on just one domain). But sometimes compulsive over-striving turns into a sure-fire road to disappointments and unfinished tasks.

Learn how to strike a balance: How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up

4. They Know How To Inspire

Overachievers learn quickly that it is much easier to achieve goals through collaboration (and especially delegation). So they know how to inspire, encourage, persuade and motivate people around them. Even though they often drive their team crazy with their stubbornness and perfectionism, people quickly follow under the spell of their enthusiasm and greater vision.

Learn these 10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively.

5. They Set Clear Goals

The term “overachiever” itself implies that they know how to achieve goals. That is kind of hard to do if your goals are vague, unclear and lack specific deadline, which is why overachievers educate themselves, read goal-setting books, and think about the best way to approach a new task.

Although, it’s worth mentioning that overachievers usually use their time management and goal-setting skills towards competitive, “I want to kick butt” type of goals rather than self-improvement, mastery goals.

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Take a look at these tips to help you set clearer goals: What Are SMART Goals (And How to Use Them to Become Successful)

6. They Are Organized

It’s hard to imagine a disorganized overachiever, isn’t it? Their great organizational and planning skills usually serve three main purposes: keeping track of time, keeping track of progress and keeping track of achievements.

This hasn’t been confirmed by scientific research yet, but overachievers might actually get a “runner’s high” from crossing tasks off their to-do lists, and making new to-do lists.

Here’s How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People

7. They Try to Avoid Failure at All Costs

Some psychologists believe that overachievers place their self-worth on their competence, driven by an underlying fear of failure. Rather than setting and striving for goals based on a pure desire to achieve, their core motivation becomes avoiding failure. This may explain the fact that overachiever beat themselves up for even little setbacks and seemingly-insignificant mistakes.

But be aware that having a strong fear of failure can wrek havoc your productivity. So the best thing to do? Learn to conquer the fear: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It)

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8. They Love Awards

Who doesn’t love them, right? True enough, but unlike most people who like to feel acknowledged and appreciated for their efforts, overachievers are bent on collecting ‘awards’, be it university degrees, spelling bee prizes or unusual destinations.

While loving awares isn’t bad, it’s even better if you’re driven by internal motivation instead of external ones which could be quite uncontrolable or unstable: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It).

9. They Don’t Understand the Concept of Work Hours

Don’t get surprised if you receive a work-related email anywhere between 8 p.m. and midnight. It’s something overachievers usually do and you weren’t the only one. At least 20 more emails have been sent during these hours to other people. The concepts of over-achieving and working overtime usually go hand in hand.

The downside of this is an imbalnced life, which may need to problems in other aspects of life including health and relationships. A better way is to Achieve a Realistic Work Life Balance.

10. They Rest

Overachievers might often be labeled as “workaholics”, because they often ignore bodily signs of hunger, fatigue and even a full bladder, hoping to finish just one last little part. This doesn’t mean that overachievers don’t know how to disconnect and relax.

True that they tend to work in the highest gear, but they also have enough sense to give themselves time to rest and recharge. Of course, they do it in their own overachieving way, preferring climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or hiking through the Amazon jungle to lazing on the beach.

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11. Overachievers Continuously Educate Themselves

A great quality that most overachievers have is the hunger for knowledge. They surround themselves with bright people. They know how to listen, and most importantly, they get tons of mentoring.

Despite the fact that overachievers want to excel at everything they set their minds on, they are humble enough to admit that to get on top of their game, they need help. And they are willing to pay someone to push, coach and guide them.

You too can learn How to Create a Habit of Continuous Learning for a Better You.

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Featured photo credit: Nghia Le via unsplash.com

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