How To Handle A Boss With Anger Issues
Unfortunately, having major personality flaws doesn’t seem to stop a lot of people from climbing high up in their professions, gaining a lot of power, and being in charge of the future and jobs of others. I don’t exactly know what came first—the chicken or the egg—when it comes to power and a sour disposition. Are angry bosses people who were once kind, but became viscous as they became more powerful? Or, is that aggressive personality what got them their status? Regardless of the answer, at some point, we all deal with a boss who has anger issues. It can be a very complicated experience because you want to make your boss happy—it’s a natural desire—but your boss is someone who is fundamentally unhappy. The most you can hope for is that you survive without becoming cynical. Here is how to handle a boss with anger issues.
Try to find a different point person
If at all possible, see if there is a way that you can deal with a different person directly. You can phrase it to sound as if your boss is very busy, and you often have questions you think you shouldn’t waste his time with. Then he can assign someone else to be your point person—the person you interact with daily.
Never take it personally
Know that it’s never personal. No matter what nasty things your boss says to you, it’s never about you. Those comments come from his or her own internal issues.
Don’t react strongly
Never react strongly. You have the emotional fortitude to not react, so don’t. Don’t respond with anger, or aggravation. Don’t become defensive. Do not respond to your boss’ emotions—just answer the practical, technical sides of the conversation. Give her the information she needs in a neutral tone.
Know that it will pass, and they will forget
Here is something you need to know about angry people: they’re so angry all of the time about something that they don’t even remember what they were angry about 20 minutes ago. So, try to forget about it—because they already have.
Bond with your coworkers
You’ll need good relationships with your coworkers to get through this. Have each other’s backs. Be there to comfort each other or make each other laugh after the boss goes off on one of you.
Remember, they treat everyone this way
Just know that your boss talks to everyone that way. She doesn’t have a bone to pick just with you. She has a bone to pick with life. She doesn’t like anyone because she doesn’t like herself. So, if she hates everyone then, she really doesn’t hate anyone if you think about it that way.
Stay calm, even when they can’t
You’ll have to go full Yoda on your boss and stay calm even when she can’t. Practice your ability to stay Zen, whether that’s through meditating or doing yoga.
But do show that you care
Angry bosses become even more angered if it looks like you feel nothing about their tantrums. So, while you should remain calm, make sure you don’t look like you just don’t care. It’s a fine line, but you’ll need to walk it.
Don’t bring that energy home
Be conscious about not bringing that bad energy home. You don’t want to let your boss’ personal issues affect your personal life. While it’s easy to let negative people make us negative, try, instead, to focus on your partner’s or family’s positive energy and take that in when you get home.
And set communication boundaries
Angry bosses tend to have boundary issues and will call or email you after work hours, and on weekends. Don’t give into the pressure to work when you aren’t being paid to work. If you’re worried that waiting until Monday to respond will make your boss angry, just remember that, she’s always angry anyways. So you may as well enjoy your weekend.
Request regular reviews
You can kind of get an angry boss to structure her tantrums by requesting regular reviews. You can ask, for example, to sit down every three months and go over what she likes about your work, and what she’d like you to do differently. This can prevent some of her freak-outs.
Play relaxing music at your desk
Whatever music is particularly relaxing to you, play it through your headphones. It couldn’t hurt to put some images of nature around your desk, too.
Let off steam with coworkers
Grab occasional drinks with coworkers so you can vent about the boss. You probably all want to let off steam about this, and your significant others and family are tired of hearing about it.
Try to sympathize
Try to remember that your boss is angry because her life probably sucks. Her home life might be miserable, or simply her internal dialogue could be a disaster. She probably hates herself more than she hates anyone else, so try to approach her with sympathy.
Find a different boss
If you don’t have to put up with this, then don’t! Life is too short to live in fear every day. If you are able to get another job, take one. Don’t force yourself to stay in a terrible situation just to prove that you can survive it. You should enjoy your work—not just survive it.