How To Deal With A Tough Boss

November 23, 2016  |  
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At some point, we all get dealt a super tough boss. The type of boss who answers the phone as if you’re already wasting their time before you’ve even spoken; the type of boss who rolls her eyes when someone knocks on her office door. This boss sort of speaks to you like you’re a moron when you simply ask a question (and a reasonable one, at that). And you’re pretty sure the air gets colder when they walk through the room. You’ve tried to make them laugh—it was really awkward. You’ve tried to engage them in personal conversation, and they looked at you as if you were speaking an ancient, incomprehensible language. Even though you’ve never done anything wrong, you always feel like you’re about to get fired. If all of this sounds too familiar, read on for how to deal with el jefe.

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Shutterstock.com

Figure out what makes them tick

What does your boss truly care about? They can’t possibly be that hung up on the fact that you keep family photos at your desk, or take personal calls infrequently at work.

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Shutterstock

Cater to that

Your boss likely just wants to make sure things are getting done, one way or another. It could help you to give your boss regular updates on your progress, so they feel certain progress is being made—and worry less when they hear you talking to your coworkers.

Young black woman/girl in college or business professional smiling/happy, Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Take criticism in stride

Your tough boss likely won’t couch criticism in compliments. They won’t tell you three things you’re doing right before telling you what you’re doing wrong. They will just tell you how you messed up, and offer zero consoling words.

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Shutterstock

They pounce on emotion

Unfortunately, these tough bosses look for emotion and pounce on it. They want to know that you can take criticism, implement it into your work, and not let emotions cloud your ability to do a better job.

Corbis Images

Corbis Images

Relax

This is easier said than done, but it is possible. You know you aren’t doing anything wrong, and you know you’re doing a great job, so stop stuttering and shaking when your boss asks you what you’re doing.

"WomanRelaxing PF"

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It helps them relax

These tough personality types, unfortunately, don’t do themselves any favors. They make their employees nervous, which then makes them nervous in return. Break the cycle by answering your boss’ inquiries with the coolest, most composed responses.

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Learn their favorite form of communication

If it seems like your boss is really aggravated every time you show up at their office door, take that note. If you notice your boss responds to your emails with a direct phone call, take that note.

Source: Shutterstock

Source: Shutterstock

It could calm them down slightly

If your boss responds to your emails by calling your desk, they probably prefer speaking on the phone than over the Internet. Something about that medium makes them happier,

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Smile, even when they don’t

Your boss will probably give you instruction without the tiniest, “How’s your day going?” or “Thank you so much.” They are likely rather militant in their conversation with you. That doesn’t mean you need to be; meet their chilly demeanor with a smile.

Young black woman/girl in college or business professional, Shutterstock

Shutterstock

It’s hard to get mad at a smile

If you always ask your boss how they’re doing when you enter the room, if you always smile, if you always have a kind tone in your voice, eventually, your boss will be forced to respond to you with some kindness, too. It’s just human nature. At the very least, your boss will secretly like you—and that counts for a lot.

heathersdish.com

heathersdish.com

Do something for the office

That could be bringing in cookies, ordering lunch for everyone one day, organizing a dog park meet up outside of the office, or purchasing a nice coffee maker for the office.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

You’re teaching by leading

If your boss sees how you boost morale by doing one small thing that improves the workplace environment, they will not only appreciate you but also think, “Maybe I should do that…”

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Shutterstock

Do not take it personally

It’s obviously hard not to take it personally when someone is blatantly dismissive and cold in their tone towards you. It’s easy to feel every day that you offended up angered your boss, based on the way they speak to you.

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Shutterstock

They talk to everyone that way

Your boss speaks to every employee that way—including the ones who you believe to be perfect. Try to remember that this is just the way this person talks—this is their base line mood.

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Don’t take it home 

It’s also hard to not allow a tough boss affect your home life. If you feel on edge all day, and worry subconsciously that you’re in trouble, it’s easy to relax at home.

Shutterstock.com/Friends having dinner

Shutterstock.com/Friends having dinner

This is their problem

Let’s be real; your boss is an unhappy person! That’s the only reason they speak to you and the other employees the way that they do. When someone leads an overwhelmingly happy life, they can’t be cold towards their employees, even if they try. Pity your boss because their home life likely isn’t as loving and happy as yours, but don’t let them infiltrate yours.

Image Size: Shutterstock

Image Size: Shutterstock

Confront them

This isn’t for everybody but, you may consider simply asking your boss one day, “Have I ever done something to upset you or offend you? If I have, please let me know so I can do something about it.”

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Sometimes, they don’t know

Some really tough bosses forget that the way they behave isn’t normal. And, since it’s rare anyone points that out to them, they’ve just become used to acting cold and condescending. You may shake them into reality with your honest and forthcoming question.

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Shutterstock

You’re not alone

Hey, so that you know, everybody has had one of these bosses at some point. Consider it a stepping stone to your career goals.

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And it’s preparing you for more

When you have your own business, you’ll deal with colleagues and potential clients who act like this. This is all just practice to help you navigate those situations calmly.

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