Bad bosses. You know the ones -- in love with their power, using manipulation and control, or at worst -- micromanaging your every move. We've all had them, and perhaps you are dealing with one right now.
Just like personal relationships, work relationships can be difficult--especially those with management. After all, they've been hired to be in charge. But that doesn't give them the authority to be rude or disrespectful.
Regardless of their management responsibilities, some people make better leaders than others. Being an effective leader takes maturity, critical thinking skills, and astute business acumen. In addition, good leaders demonstrate effective human relations behaviors including clear communication, honesty, and fairness. Unfortunately, not every boss has all those traits.
So when you find yourself with a bad boss, what do you do? What are your options?
Realistically, you always have two choices: stay at your job or leave it. In fact, a 2015 Gallup study found that nearly 50% of people left a job to "get away from their manager." However, leaving your job because you don't like your boss may not be your best option--or even necessary.
We can create healthy attitudes about any relationship--even when the other person is acting without integrity--by creating a space where each of us is allowed to be ourselves and still coexist. How? By "breaking-up" with the dysfunctional relationship, seeing the person as they are, and recognizing that the behaviors are the problem, not the person.
So if you're fed up and ready for change, here's how to break up with a bad boss without having to quit your job:
Learn detachment. You know how we can stand by with patience and understanding to watch a child throw a temper tantrum without letting their actions get to us? That is detachment--the ability to see someone in their own behavior without letting it penetrate your emotional walls. Detachment can create a healthy separation, which is integral to learning how to neutralize an emotional battle.
The next time your boss is driving you crazy, practice detachment: see him or her as a 3-year-old child, and their power over you will gradually disappear. Let them have their behaviors, but don't buy into the situation if you don't believe it's true for you. Be detached, but still be respectful.
Focus on appreciation. What do you appreciate about your boss? What do you like about them, or what do they do well? I call this exercise Digging For Gold; with just a little insight, you can find something--anything--that you like or respect about your boss and focus on it.
For example, you may have noticed that your boss is a great public speaker or a snappy dresser. A state of appreciation softens your energy and people are sensitive to our vibes--even subconsciously. Your attitude will soften and both of you will feel better.
Practice compassion. Ever had a bad day? Well, so has your boss. Generally we have no idea what anyone else is going through--and more than likely, his or her attitude has nothing to do with you. Perhaps your boss is having problems at home--maybe a sick parent or car trouble, or perhaps pressure from upper management.
Regardless of what is happening, try to see the situation from your boss's perspective once in a while--it will strengthen your empathy and enhance your relationships. Remember: We are all human--even your boss.
Learn more about detachment, appreciation, and compassion in Balancing Work, Relationships & Life in Three Simple Steps or another book from Michael's collection at michaelsunnarborg.com/books.
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