The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of someone he can blame it on. – Arthur Bloch
No matter how hard you try, your work is never good enough.
Tasks have impossible deadlines and objectives keep changing.
All because Darth Vader didn't die but is alive and well working in your company.
And he's your boss.
Someone who is firmly in the aggressive / bully box.
Charming one minute, then accusing you of riding on the dopey train the next.
The boss from hell pressurises others and enjoys a sense of superiority.
Yet the strange thing is, there appears very little evidence of aggression.
A word here, a look there. A critical comment now and again.
Each example would get thrown out of court but, cumulatively, they create a poorly motivated team, with little confidence.
How to Spot a Manipulative Boss
Darth Vader was easy to spot, but most bosses don't dress like Darth.
Manipulative managers are more subtle.
- They deflect blame for anything that goes wrong
- They're difficult to chat to casually
- They delegate everything regardless of staff workload.
Some people shout back or head off to the Human Resources department.
For the minor irritations, that will only make things worse.
You'll end up hating your job.
Dealing with a problematic boss requires harnessing the power of the mind but not through some form of a hypnotic state.
The only mind you can control is your own.
Impact of the Manipulative Boss
For now, my encounter with a hellish boss is in the past. I remember, on numerous occasions when asked for something, my mind went completely blank.
"What answer was he looking for?"
"He's wrong, but how do I tell him?"
The fact is, a bad leader can bring all those around them down without realising it.
Experienced staff will lose confidence, seek alternative jobs and stop giving their best.
After all, what's the point? Your boss will criticise your work anyway.
Redeeming Features of the Manipulative Boss
Trust me. There are usually some.
How can someone with absolutely no people skills get to a senior position?
They do because they have competencies, but maybe not ones you value.
Maybe they have:
- Strength of character
- Intellectual flexibility to work on one detailed topic after another
- A strategic mind
- Stamina to work long hours.
But the staff still feel like crap.
Re-tune Your Frequency
If there were only one commandment for dealing with the boss from hell, it's this.
Re-tune the way you think so you can adapt quickly.
Always stay calm, polite, and over time, you will get to know how a person communicates, how they speak, what tone they use, and what makes them they tick.
When you do, you'll be more receptive, your body language, your listening skills, and the tone of your voice will help you engage more successfully with your boss.
You need to adapt.
To help you, here are ten tips.
10 Tips for Surviving the Boss from Hell
- Don't Expect Change — Your boss has got to where they are by being themselves. Why would they change a formula that works? Accept how they are, and you will feel more relaxed. Inner resistance will only aggravate an already tense situation.
- Keep Calm and Smile — Never lose your temper. Things might be difficult but will plummet if you show anger. The whole strategy is about coping. When you become accustomed to your boss, then anticipate how you will feel, and decide to feel differently.
- Get Fit — One way to strengthen your confidence is to improve your body. Improve your overall health and wellbeing. Being healthier will reduce your stress level and improve your coping mechanism. Try meditative and mindfulness techniques to adopt positive thinking.
- Work Smarter — Don't give the boss any excuse to find fault with your commitment. Work when you're at work. Take shorter coffee breaks, avoid wasteful meetings and focus on the priority tasks. But don't sacrifice quality time with family or friends.
- Don't Fear Deadlines — We all hate deadlines they are often unrealistic, with dates plucked out of the air. The best way to react is to be positive and give it your best shot. Then if you miss the deadline, you'll be able to explain why.
- Don't Fly Solo — Nothing beats a good session of mutual moaning with colleagues. If you can confide with one or two friends, you'll find strength and support. We all need a sense of camaraderie and a good laugh to help cope. There is strength in numbers, and you'll discover that it's not you but just the way your boss is.
- Spy on the Boss — Not with hidden cameras but watch to recognise the patterns and learn from your mistakes. For example, if your boss doesn't like indecision, then don't sound hesitant. Sound confident, even when you're wrong. Observe and get to know the pattern and rhythm of the person, and you'll soon learn what buttons not to press.
- Be Forgetful — Try not to re-live bad meetings or encounters. Forget conversations that didn't go well. I bet you any money your boss has. He or she will have too many things on their mind. Don't merely expect future encounters to go the same way. Focus on the present.
- Speak Up — If you think agreeing with your boss all the time is an excellent way to win favour, you're mistaken. No matter how tempting it is to go with the flow, good advice is always more valuable. It's not about trying to get your way, but instead, try volunteering alternative opinions for consideration. Never be afraid to say no if you don't agree with something (as long as you have a good reason).
- Do Your Homework — Prepare properly and work with colleagues on having a common approach. You can't do everything so you may have to choose who to let down. In work, you will always have to make choices, and that includes what gets done on time and what has to wait.
Now, take a deep breath.
Remember nobody's perfect.
We will always encounter people who make us laugh or cry.
And we too can affect others in similar ways.
Be the person you are, drive to improve and don't let your boss be the focus.
Learn, grow, and doors will open.
You have the power.