Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

H. E. James

Writer and researcher

Fashion As Comfort: Using Clothes To Heal I Work in Healthcare; Can I Work from Home, Too? Better Office Setups for Better Office Health Understanding and Dealing with a Difficult Boss How Clever People Deal With Rude People (Instead Of Getting Angry With Them)

Trending in Communication

1 15 Inspiring Ideas to Boost Your Motivation for Success 2 How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success 3 How to Turn Your Fear of Missing Out into a Joy of Missing Out 4 What Is Resilience and Why Is It Important? 5 Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

Advertising

Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

Advertising

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

Advertising

3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

Advertising

5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

Read Next