How to deal with an unpleasant boss

Your boss is always criticising you, but never tells you clearly what he
wants. When you try to communicate he cuts you off. He never provides
support or encouragement. He is harsh and dominating. He gets angry and is
oblivious to concepts such as praise, gratitude, humour or teamwork.

In short, you have an unpleasant boss.

If leaving your job is not an option – what can you do? How about building a
better relationship with your boss and helping him change his unpleasant
ways? suggests chartered psychologist Graham W Price from Abicord.

You’ll need to start by recognising that your boss is doing the best he can
right now, given his awareness. Everyone is. He might well have an
‘unproductive’ awareness. But he’s still being the best he knows how to be
given that awareness.

The next thing to recognise is that there’s always an explanation for any
unproductive aspects of our awareness. Our awareness at any moment is simply
the product of our life history up to that moment. If you want to change
your relationship with your boss, and even change his unpleasant ways,
you’ll need to do something to change his awareness.

It’s worth remembering that we all want to be liked and respected. When
those needs aren’t met, different people react in different ways. Some
withdraw and become the victim. Others become aggressive. If your boss is
the aggressive type – it’s the only way he knows how to be.

We always have a choice as to how we deal with aggression. For example, we
can acquiesce or fight back, but more often than not, this gets us nowhere.
Trying to meet the other person’s needs to be liked and respected is usually
a more fruitful way forward.

Your boss’s aggression is probably at least partly driven by a sense that
he’s not liked or supported by his staff. Although, of course, your boss has
brought this on himself there are still things you can do to help him
change. Graham W Price has some tips that will help you change his awareness
and make for a better working relationship…

*        Make it clear that you want to support him in meeting his goals.
There’s only one thing worse than an unsupportive boss and that’s an
unsupportive staff

*        Be friendly and courteous. Ask him how his weekend was

*        Give him praise and thanks where it’s due

*        Invite him to join you and your colleagues for a drink after work

*        Drop a hint that you’d appreciate the opportunity of a team
building event . to get along better with your colleagues of course

*        Avoid criticising him. If you have to give him feedback, do it with
an ‘I statement’. An ‘I statement’ says in effect “I get upset when you do
that. I’m not blaming you but I’d appreciate your help to resolve my

Even unpleasant bosses usually respond better when they feel liked and
supported. If your boss is a rare exception you could always resort to
putting a tarantula in his desk drawer.

Editor’s Notes

Graham is available for interview, comment and articles.

Graham W Price is a chartered psychologist and an accredited member of the
British Psychological Society (BPS). He is author of “What Is, Is! The Power
of Positive Acceptance”.

Updated: — 6:36 pm
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