Even though the words “boss” and “bossy” sound almost the same, they don’t necessarily have the same meaning. In fact, a good leader is one who is adaptable, flexible, and ultimately empowers their employees. However, not all of us are that lucky. So, what do you do if you do not have one of those good kind of bosses? First things first: don’t worry. There are things you can do to handle your bossy boss and still keep your sanity.
Here are 8 ways to deal with a bossy boss:
1. Be respectful.
Asher Adelman, founder of eBossWatch states, “Bosses who are characterized as ‘too bossy’ tend to combine their assertiveness with unhealthy doses of disrespect and condescension.” While that is difficult to deal with as their employee, that does not mean you should stoop to their level. You should always show respect because it is the proper – and professional – thing to do.
2. Be assertive, not aggressive.
Although I just told you to be respectful, that doesn’t mean that you have to become a doormat either. There is definitely a difference between being assertive and aggressive. Using assertive language such as “I” and “we” will help you convey your opinions, in a respectful manner. “I” language takes ownership of your ideas, while “we” language creates an atmosphere with your boss that you are “in this together” – rather than a “me vs. you” battle of wills.
3. Be logical, not emotional.
According to psychiatrist Dr. Milan Balakrishnanhey, bossy bosses are “self-centered, lack empathy, and have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” Because of this, it is important to be logical, and not emotional when you speak to them. This is obviously easier said than done. It requires a lot of self-restraint. Remember, people who are bossy just get more agitated when they feel like negative emotions are being dumped on them; especially if it is in the form of criticism. So even if you want to give him/her the middle finger and shout a few four-letter-words … Don’t. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Keep your logical side in the driver’s seat.
4. Be a good listener.
Everyone feels better when they feel like someone is listening to them. And I mean really listening to them. Bossy bosses are no different. To be a good listener, you should start with eye contact, as well as positive and engaging body language. You will also want to repeat back or paraphrase what your boss says so that he/she will know that you actually heard the information. Being a good listener is just one small thing you can do to make your boss less defensive and less negative.
5. Be a good “team player.”
The phrase “team player” is thrown around a lot in the business world. But it really is helpful when everyone works together. Your boss is probably creating an atmosphere where everyone does not want to hop on the wagon and follow the “captain” of the team. However, being argumentative and self-centered will only make a bossy boss more angry. So try to band together with your co-workers and persuade everyone to work as a team in a positive manner.
6. Be empathetic.
Empathy is one of the most under-utilized emotions in the world. Empathy lets us put ourselves in another person’s shoes and imagine what they are going through. For example, let’s say your boss is overweight, crazy, and illogical. As maddening as it may be, try to imagine how they got that way? Maybe they had mean and rude parents? Maybe they were abused as a child? You may never actually know. Chances are, if they have grown into a difficult person, then they probably haven’t had such a nice life. Try to re-frame it like that. It will help you feel a little less annoyed. Even if it’s only for a moment.
7. Be the person who doesn’t take anything personally.
Psychologist Manasi Hassan offers the following remedy: “Don’t let your boss’ arrogance have a negative impact on your self-image. Once you have realized that it’s the boss’s ‘attitude’ don’t try hard to change it or let it affect the way you perceive yourself.” In other words, don’t take what your boss says or does personally. As I mentioned in #6, who knows what kind of life he/she has had? What they say or do has more to do with the kind of person they are. In other words, “It’s them, not you.”
8. Be a person who “flies under the radar” – if you can.
In some jobs, it’s possible to (more or less) stay out of the way. If you can minimize the face-to-face time with your boss – do it. If you can walk down another hallway to avoid passing his/her office – do it. If you don’t have to say anything at a meeting that might rile them up, then keep your mouth shut. Don’t put yourself in any unnecessary situations where you might bring unneeded negativity upon yourself … if you can.
Bossy bosses are never fun to work with. Hopefully, if you follow these 8 tips, you will have a more pleasant experience on the job.