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Work Issues- Difficult Bosses

Re Post Articl http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Work_issues_difficult_bossese Source:

A good boss is someone who can effectively run a company and communicate with, and understand, their employees. If a boss involves their employees in business decisions, shows appreciation for hard work, and responds with bonuses and gifts at Christmas time, most people would enjoy working for them. However, a difficult relationship with the boss is a common cause of work-related stress. Examples of difficult behaviour shown by some bosses include lack of communication, verbal bullying, inflexible thinking and rudeness. There are various strategies you can use to try and build a better relationship with your boss.

 

Unhelpful strategies

Some common, but unhelpful, ways that some people deal with difficult bosses include:

  • Using the same behaviour, such as rudeness or shouting
  • Silence and meek compliance
  • Avoiding interaction with the boss
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Quitting.

What is the source of the conflict?

There are broadly two kinds of workplace conflict – when people’s ideas, decisions or actions relating directly to the job are opposed; or when two people just don’t get along. The latter is often called ‘a personality clash’. It can be hard to distinguish between the two. For example, your dislike for your boss may be caused by their initial refusal to listen to your ideas.

Bridging the gap between different philosophies

If you and your boss are divided by different thoughts on business practices, there are various ways to open the lines of communication, including:

  • Be calm and reasonable. Remember that your boss is not obliged to feel the same way about things as you do.
  • Aim to solve the disagreement, rather than win the argument. Be prepared to compromise.
  • Approach your boss in a conciliatory way. Ask them for their opinions, thoughts and judgements on the issue. Really listen to them.
  • Compliment them on any of their suggestions that you think are workable.
  • Suggest your own ideas, rather than demand them. Explain how your ideas will benefit the organisation.
  • Perhaps your boss will be more interested if you thoroughly research your ideas and present them professionally, highlighting possible benefits and drawbacks.

Personality clash

If you just don’t get along with your boss, it’s important to find out why. Issues to consider include:

  • Does your boss treat everyone badly, or just you?
  • If you are singled out, is there some unresolved dispute between you?
  • Are you giving your boss something to dislike about you, such as poor work performance or increased absenteeism?
  • As a reality check, ask a colleague if they have noticed your boss’ behaviour towards you. You may be over-reacting.
  • Do you have conflicts with other people at work? Perhaps you are the one with the difficult personality, not your boss.

Strategies to help build a better relationship

Building a better relationship with your boss means first taking into account their personality, and tailoring your strategies accordingly. For example, don’t ask them why they treat you badly if direct confrontation enrages them. Suggestions include:

  • If you have a colleague who gets along well with the boss, ask them for their ‘secret’. How do they treat the boss differently to you?
  • Keep calm. If your boss simply has terrible people skills, don’t take their behaviour personally.
  • Assert yourself in a reasonable and calm manner. Don’t yell back, or take the abuse silently. Explain politely that you don’t appreciate being spoken to in such a way.
  • Next time the boss yells or treats you patronisingly, ask them if you have done something to upset them. This may open the lines of communication.
  • Change your communication style. Take the time to listen to your boss. If they say something you agree with, then say so. People sometimes yell and rant if they feel they are being ignored. Make your boss feel validated.
  • The clash may be caused by differences in working style – you may like to be left alone to do your job, but your boss may believe that good management means close supervision. Discuss your working needs calmly and reasonably.
  • Seek advice from your human resources manager.
  • If your boss’ behaviour is aggressive or abusive, or if all attempts to build a reasonable relationship fail, talk it over with your boss’ supervisor.

Be assertive

Assertiveness means communicating your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner, without intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings. Suggestions on how to be more assertive include:

  • Accept that assertiveness will take time to learn, just like any other skill.
  • Practise talking in an assertive way.
  • Use assertive language such as ‘I feel…’ and ‘I think…’, rather than aggressive language such as ‘You always…’ and ‘You never…’
  • Don’t interrupt the other person when they are talking, and try hard to listen and understand their point of view.
  • If necessary, seek the advice of a professional (such as a psychologist) to learn assertive behaviour.

Where to get help

  • Your boss
  • Your human resources manager
  • Psychologist.

Things to remember

  • A difficult relationship with the boss is a common cause of work-related stress.
  • Examples of difficult behaviour by some bosses include lack of communication, verbal bullying, inflexible thinking and rudeness.
  • If your boss’ behaviour is aggressive or abusive, or if all attempts to build a reasonable relationship fail, talk it over with your boss’ supervisor.
  • If necessary, seek the advice of a professional (such as a psychologist) to learn assertive behaviour.
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