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What To Do If You Have A Bossy Boss

What To Do If You Have A Bossy Boss

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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