Dealing with a difficult person is draining and zaps you emotionally, especially if the difficult person you are dealing with is your boss. A survey shows that 57% of employees left a job, and 32% are seriously considering it because of their boss. It can be mentally demanding and stressful. It can also affect almost every area of your life: your work performance, personal life, and relationship with the people around you. 

Although you want to quit your job to get away from your boss, if you don’t have another job lined up or are emotionally depleted finding another job, then you are left with no other choice but to deal with a difficult boss while remaining professional.

To help you make the best of the situation, we’ve compiled the top advice for dealing with a difficult boss.  

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss?

Dealing with a difficult boss should be taken seriously. If quitting your job is not in your options at the moment, then there are things you can do to reduce the damage to yourself for having a difficult boss.

1. Identify what motivates your boss.

Put yourself into the shoes of your boss. How does your boss see the world? What are the goals of your boss for the company? What does he care about?

It is important that you know what drives your boss and what keeps him up at night. You can decipher this by listening carefully to what he is saying during your meetings. Your boss may sometimes appear gnarly and sound egocentric, but he might have a point to what he is saying and has a valid reason why your boss snaps. 

Here are some questions to help you better understand your boss:

  • What does your boss do?
  • What sort of boss do you have?
  • What are your boss’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • What’s their preferred communication style?
  • What pressure is your boss under?
  • Which issues are their priorities?

2. Work in accordance with your boss’s preference.

Sync your work style with your boss’s preference. Examine the behavior of your boss at work. Does your boss work at a fast pace? Then you should work at a fast pace too. Does your boss prefer email communication instead of face-to-face communication? Then, rather than going to his office personally, you should drop him an email first. It is also important that you know his work ethics and personal mission and vision so that you can refer to those every time you’re presenting your ideas.  

Trying to understand your boss’s work style lets you understand how he values an employee, and the more you know your boss’s preference, the better you will work together.  

3. Develop and demonstrate leadership skills

You can take the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills. Sometimes it is best to make a leadership decision on your own when dealing with a difficult boss. Take the initiative and make a decision if you know your field well. There is no reason not to pursue a direction that you know will lead to positive results for your organization.

At the same time, your colleagues may get inspired by your actions and naturally follow your steps to achieve your goals. This creates a more positive work environment as you provide support and show responsibility for your team. It also increases your value as an employee. The management will notice your initiative and will feel more comfortable in your ability to work independently and within teams.

How to demonstrate leadership skills at work?

Here are a few tips to show leadership skills at work.

  • Take responsibility.

You should be accountable for your actions and contributions, even if it leads to poor results. 

  • Master your job.

Be an expert in your field, and you must know the ins and outs of your company. Your colleagues and even your boss will respect you if you demonstrate credibility.

  • Train yourself to be a leader.

Show your commitment to becoming a leader by seeking out leadership classes. You can ask your management about internal training sessions and external classes to develop your leadership skills. Otherwise, you can enroll in online classes. 

  • Communicate effectively.

You should understand the importance of communicating with your colleagues and boss effectively. 70% of workplace mistakes at work happen because of a lack of proper communication.

  • Be a good listener.

Effective leaders know how to listen. Listen to your colleagues, boss, vendors, and clients. By understanding their perspectives, you will understand where they are coming from and their challenges. 

4. Stay one step ahead

You should always be prepared for what might come next and be one step ahead of your boss. Once you have anticipated the probable request needed from you, start to plan or work on it in advance. Your boss will remind you less and will see you as a responsible employee. With that in mind, how do you go about anticipating your boss’s needs? Here are some tips.

  • Anticipate what your boss’s needs are. For example, if you have an upcoming department meeting, ensure that you make notes of questions and topics you want to address your boss. 
  • Come up with ideas and possible solutions to a problem by doing thoughtful research.
  • Keep your boss updated on what you are doing and inform him of your accomplishments in real-time. Frequently share information with your boss.
  • Pin the problems that are coming up, and start thinking about ways to solve each one.
  • Take some of the mental load off your boss and think of ways how you could help him.

5. Sync with your boss’ communication style

Take time to determine your boss’s preferred communication style. Everybody has their own unique way of communicating. By understanding the different communication styles, you can understand your boss better and learn how to work with them effectively.

  • Assertive communication style

This is the most effective communication style as it demonstrates confidence and high self-esteem. These people know how to press their convictions confidently and clearly express their wants or needs.’ Assertive communicators speak calmly and confidently, using “I” statements that cause the communicator to take responsibility for their ideas and needs.

When communicating with an assertive communicator, you must not waste their time, disrespect their ideas, and interrupt them while speaking.

  • Aggressive communication style

This communication style is characterized by speaking in a loud and demanding voice, expressing feelings and opinions strongly, and dominating in a way that violates the rights of others. As a result, the person that an aggressive communicator is talking to feels belittled, steamrolled, and intimidated.

When communicating with an aggressive communicator, you must be prepared to answer questions right away, focus on the topic, and ask questions that are not well thought. 

  • Passive communication style

This communication style can be described as “people-pleaser” type. They tend to step back and avoid confrontation at all costs. They also avoid expressing their opinions or feelings and find it difficult to express themselves effectively.

When communicating with a passive communicator, you should not speak over them, confront them, or dismiss their ideas and opinions.

  • Passive-aggressive communication style

This is a combination of both passive and aggressive communication styles. They are passive externally, but they are aggressive beneath. Outwardly, they seem pleasant and easy-going, but they often engage in rumors and gossip, leading to workplace toxicity.

When communicating with a passive-aggressive communicator, you should focus on their message or the core issue and set communication ground rules.

  • Manipulative communication style

This style of communication uses deceit and influence to control others to get what they want. They rarely say what they mean and cunningly work toward their goal.

When communicating with a manipulative communicator, you should not get swayed by an emotional argument and respond with a negative statement. 

6. Don’t let your boss break your spirit.

No matter how bad your boss’s behavior is, don’t let your boss get on your nerves and affect your work. It may sound impossible to do, but it is doable. You should just not take the hurtful feedback and comments of your boss personally. Instead, you should learn how to detach your emotions and not be too sensitive about them; instead, take your boss’s comments as constructive criticism.  

7. Talk to your Human Resources (HR).

If you feel that you have tried everything, you also even tried talking to your boss but nothing happened, then maybe it is time to talk to you Human Resources (HR). Arrange an appointment with your HR to discuss your concerns about your boss. You need to prepare a draft of topics that you want to raise with your HR and also proof and documents to back you up. Lastly, be calm, composed and be mindful of the tone of your voice. No matter how you despise your boss, you should not badmouth your boss.

Dealing with a difficult boss is a challenge. If you still find your boss unbearable after practicing these tips, then maybe it’s time to update your resume and leave your current company. Working in a toxic environment won’t bring any good; your physical and mental health will be affected, and we don’t want that to happen.

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