We all laughed at the movie Horrible Bosses, but the truth of the matter is putting in a ton of face time with a boss that drives you insane is not an ideal situation and can leave you huffing and puffing long after you say good riddance to your desk for the evening. From bullies to hypocrites, micro-managers to flat out fools, a bad boss can equal your worst nightmare. Bad dream everyday…no thanks.
Unfortunately I had to go through the experience of a few job torture chambers before I hit a winner. I spent too many days coming home from work in tears, walking on egg shells for days because I was a nervous wreck or coming home to let my job wrath out on the only person that would listen: my husband. Needless to say I was a mess in and out of the office. It took some serious skill (and serious job hunting) to keep it together at the place I spent over 2,000 hours a year, but a success story doesn’t come without a little bit of hard work and practice.
If you can’t stand your job because you work with a desk devil, here are some ways to cope with that less-than stellar boss:
- Don’t Throw the First Punch: Although your blood is boiling after your awful boss embarrassed you in front of your co-workers or took the credit for your hard work, a dramatic outburst may not be the best solution. It’s incredibly hard to bite your tongue when the two-faced supervisor is smirking at you from across the conference room table, but don’t stoop to the level of a verbal brawl. Showing respect in a difficult situation can be a check mark on your growing (personal) resume.
- Document your Work: Keep track of your accomplishments and any compliments you may have received from other colleagues. A bad boss will quickly throw you under the bus and having documentation explaining how you went above-and-beyond in your role may be a job saver. Just be sure to keep this information in a safe place!
- Make a Bad Boss List: Documenting you boss’s bad behavior with specific details and dates is very important. You don’t want to be in the HR seat discussing your multiple mishaps with your evil manager and have nothing to say, but “she was mean to me.” A journal of factual incidents with detailed information is good preparation for a tough conversation you may need to have and can double as a therapeutic way to relieve the stresses of the unbearable work environment.
- Be Careful what you Say Behind the Boss’s Back: Although it is extremely difficult to go through a day of hell without being able to unload some thoughts and feelings, you don’t want to nonchalantly complain to the wrong person. Rule of thumb: befriend your co-workers, but DO NOT talk about your boss to anyone even if the colleague is prying. Being new to the work force I took comfort in a seemingly nice person’s arms and it definitely made my situation much worse. With that being said, it can be extremely beneficial to find a mentor in another part of the company who can give sound advice.
- Control the Waterworks: I’ll admit it…I’m a bit of a crier. Not just when I get sad, but when I get stressed or uncomfortable my eyes automatically start to water, my voice starts to shake and my credibility starts to get, well, blurry. And, let’s face it, crying at work does not put you #1 in the promotion line. I have learned how to control the waterworks so I don’t look like a blubbering mess every time I want to have an adult conversation. A few deep breaths does wonders! Take the time to practice overcoming whatever your nervous habit is.
- Have “The Talk”: My biggest mistake is being too intimidated by my boss to have a professional, grown-up conversation. Instead I did all of the wrong things and some right things in the wrong order. What I should have done after some time of working extremely hard and trying to kill the situation with kindness is put on a brave face and talked with my boss about addressing my concerns. Make sure to schedule your “clear the air” meeting on their calendar and pick a neutral location like a conference room or coffee shop away from other co-workers.
- Don’t Burn Bridges: If you’re lucky enough to cut ties from the evil boss because you found another opportunity or karma caught up to them (which was the case for me!) then “unloading” with a slew of bleeped out comments is not the way to go. Fight the temptation and try to be gracious as there is value in what can be learned from negative situations as much as positive ones. Plus, this will make a huge impression on others and you never know when you may cross paths again!
- Practice Makes Perfect: It is a sad fact that the real world is full of one too many jerk bosses, but there is much to learn about yourself and others in the workforce after being put through the ringer. For example, I know the type of boss I would never want to be and I am much more confident when it comes to speaking to authority now. It is much easier to make a positive spin out of a miserable day in the office after my experiences with the worse of the worse.
- Career Check: You’ll never save yourself from the torture your boss throws your way by doing nothing. Problems never get resolved without a little effort. However, if you feel like staying in your current position is wrecking your self-esteem or messing with your health it is likely time to start the job hunt again. After all, being happy in your job is not a folklore.
I hope these tips inspire you to change your ‘tude or make a positive change in your place of work. Unless you are into the wishy-washy, favoritism type like our favorite characters from The Office, in which case I hope your real office is full of humor and maybe a mega desk or two.
Have you ever had a horrible boss? How did you cope? Let’s talk about it below!