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I can’t leave my job because I could never find one that pays this well, but I have a horrible boss that makes every day a bad experience. He has a quick temper and attacks us over things without even getting the whole story first. He obviously doesn’t care about anyone but himself and how things affect him and how he looks. How can I deal with this situation and survive working there?
There are two kinds of leaders: Those who function in an insecure, unbalanced, fear state and are mostly focused on themselves, and those who function in a secure, balanced state and can focus on the needs of others. I call these fear-driven leaders and love-driven leaders.
It sounds like your boss is a fear-driven leader. You can usually tell a person is in an unbalanced, fear state when their behavior is negative. Anyone who needs to threaten and intimidate employees to control their behavior doesn’t feel safe in the world themselves. They may be insecure, afraid of loss and worried about their bottom line. Their focus might be on protecting and promoting themselves because that is what makes them feel safer.
Here are a few suggestions that may help you work better with a fear-driven boss:
1. Make sure you are seeing this person and their bad behavior accurately
Understand that most of their bad behavior is caused by their fears about their own success, reputation and bottom line. When they feel these things are at risk, they may feel threatened by their own team. In their eyes, their team's mistakes or lack of knowledge could cause the boss to fail or look bad, so the team may become the enemy and is treated as such. Remember, when you are treated as the enemy, it really isn’t about you. The boss may just scared about their own welfare. Remind yourself that their stress and fear doesn’t have to become yours. Not your monkey, not your circus.
2. When a boss is overly critical and fault finding, this may be a sign that they're struggling with the fear of not being good enough themselves
Casting others as the bad ones and pointing fingers might be a way to make someone feel safer. When someone is insecure about their value, they may be selfish and put others down in the process. When you work with someone who does this don’t take anything they say personally. Understand blame is a coping mechanism and doesn’t make what they say factual. As much as you can, ignore the bad behavior.
3. Remember bad behavior comes from fear of failure or fear of loss, so it's really a request for validation and reassurance
Look for opportunities to reassure or validate the boss, including building him/her up. Compliment them when they do or say anything you can appreciate. I know this may be the last thing you want to give them, but making them feel better about themselves could result in less bad behavior.
4. Stay in control of your emotions and reactions
The more mature and wise you behave, the more this person may respect you. Do not whine or let them make you cry. Be kind, respectful, calm and centered. You can stay here by not taking anything personally and remembering no one can diminish your value. When you stay strong, calm and rational in tense situations, you may also earn your boss' respect — whether they will admit it or not.
5. Document everything
Quietly keep track of unethical, immoral or manipulative behavior. There may come a time you’ll be glad you did. Make sure you keep this documentation at home and not at work.
6. Say as little as possible
When you do need to speak, ask questions and listen to the responses, then choose your words carefully. Anything you say can and may be used against you. So limit your communication to only what is necessary.
7. See your boss as the same as you — a struggling student in the classroom of life
He is not better than you, so don’t let him intimidate you. He is not worse than you, so don’t spend time making him the bad guy. See his intrinsic value as the same as yours. This brings compassion, strength and wisdom into the situation.
8. Don't create drama
Do not gossip or backbite your boss with your co-workers. Be very careful that you don’t add to the drama and make the already negative situation any worse.
9. Notice good behavior
When he does behave like a love-motivated leader and gives positive feedback, behaves respectfully or honors a team member, be sure to notice and thank him. Let him know how much you appreciate it. This might encourage more good behavior in the future.
If none of these suggestions help your situation, you may want to update your resume and search for a new job with a better work environment.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is a sought after life coach, author, speaker and business owner. To learn more about her programs and to take the Clarity Assessment, Visit her website www.claritypointcoaching.com
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.