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What to Do if You Don’t Get Along with Your Boss

What to Do if You Don’t Get Along with Your Boss

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    What should you do if you really cannot get on with your boss at work?  Maybe there has been a breakdown in trust, in communication or in respect.    In any event it is ruining your time at work and making you frustrated and unhappy. Let’s call your manager “John” and see how we can approach the situation.   (The advice here works equally well whether your boss is a man or a woman).

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    1. How do other people find him? Does everyone have a hard time with John or is it just you?  Check out how other people get on with him by asking subtle questions – do not rant about how awful he is and see if others agree.  If everyone has a problem with him then you have some common ground on which to work.  If only you have difficulties with him then you need to examine yourself and your relationship with him.

    2. Ask yourself why. List all the reasons why you think things are not working between you. There are probably some big assumptions on your list so you will need to validate them carefully.

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    3. Have a heart to heart meeting. Schedule a time to meet John when he is not under pressure.  Tell him that you want to discuss some important issues.  At the meeting explain very calmly and rationally that you do not feel the relationship is working well and that you would like to explore why and how to improve it.   Do not go into a long list of complaints and sores.   Take a factual example if you can and start from there.  Let him do most of the talking.  Try to see the situation from his point of view and understand exactly what he sees as the issues.  See how many of the problems you listed at point 2 above are real.

    4. Agree an action plan. If you can agree a plan for outcomes that you both want then it really helps. What is it that he wants you to achieve?  If you deliver it will he be happy with your performance?  Even if you disagree on all sorts of other things try to agree on what your key job objectives are.  Ideally you should agree actions that each of you will take to improve the working relationship.

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    5. Try to understand his objectives and motivation. Even if John is lazy, dishonest and spiteful you can still find out what he is keen to achieve and work with him towards his goals.  If you can find a way to help him with his objectives then maybe you can work around his faults.  A good rule at work is to help your boss to succeed – whether you like him or not.  Other people will see you do this and it works to your credit – especially if they know that your boss is difficult.

    6. Go over his head. This is a risky option but sometimes it is necessary – especially if most other people share the same problems with John.  Have a quiet word with your boss’s boss and say that you feel that the department is not achieving all that it could.  Make some broad suggestions about how things could be improved without making direct accusations against John.  Let the senior manager read between the lines; he or she probably knows already.

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    7. Move sideways in the organization. If you cannot move up then move across for a while. Get some experience in another department.  Eventually John will move on, be fired or quit.  If you are seen as a positive contributor then you may get your chance to do John’s job better than he did.

    8. Quit. Life is too short to spend it in a job that makes you miserable.  If you have tried all of the routes above and are still blocked and frustrated then find a job elsewhere.  There are plenty of good bosses who want enthusiastic and diligent people to work for them.

    Sooner or later most of us will get a difficult boss to deal with.  Do not become sullen or aggressive.  The trick is to figure out a way to get on with the boss in a manner that helps both of you.  It can nearly always be done.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

    How to Win an Argument – Dos, Don’ts and Sneaky Tactics How to Get Rich: 11 Bold Moves That Guarantee Wealth How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist Think Laterally Write A Killer Resume In Seven Easy Steps

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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