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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

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    Last Updated on August 4, 2020

    The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

    The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here’s how to master the Gentle Art of Saying No:

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    1. Value Your Time

    Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”

    2. Know Your Priorities

    Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time?

    For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.

    3. Practice Saying No

    Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.

    4. Don’t Apologize

    A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.

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    5. Stop Being Nice

    Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets.

    Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.

    6. Say No to Your Boss

    Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no,” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning.

    But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.

    7. Pre-Empting

    It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting,

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    “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”

    8. Get Back to You

    Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them:

    “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.”

    At least you gave it some consideration.

    9. Maybe Later

    If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say,

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    “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].”

    Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.

    10. It’s Not You, It’s Me

    This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often, the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time.

    Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

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    Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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