There are lots of different kinds of terrible bosses in the world, but perhaps the very worst of the worst is the boss who is genuinely a bad person. Assuming that jumping ship isn’t in the cards right now, what can a person do when stuck with such a character?
We’ve all had bosses who don’t appreciate us, bosses we can’t communicate with, bosses who just don’t see things the same way we do. But what do you do when your boss is genuinely a bad person?
That’s the question a reader recently put to Carolyn Hax at the Washington Post. Hax’s answer touched on a few ways to handle the bad boss problem — besides the usual “write down his crimes and present them to HR” bit we’ve all heard a thousand times.
Here were my takeaways:
1. If you can, ignore your bad boss.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t do what you’re told, or that you act all glassy-eyed and zombie-like in meetings. (Any more than anyone else does, anyway.) It means developing some distance from him, and observing him as if he were “a thing you watch as if you’re safely behind glass.”
2. If you can’t do that, try to reframe the conversation internally.
If you’re internalizing his criticism, Hax says, “consider allowing yourself some quickie unspoken reality checks, where you externalize the barbs. For example, when Boss says, ‘You did a terrible job writing this,’ your inner voice follows up with, ‘And you have the leadership skills of a dung beetle.'”
3. If possible, change your schedule.
Does your company offer flex time? If so, Hax suggests trying to reorganize your schedule so you’re working when he’s at home … presumably annoying the living daylights out of his loved ones.
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