Dealing with Pushy Bosses
But first, let’s put it in context. An effective boss or manager has a good overview of organizational vision and values, knowledge of people’s strengths and weaknesses and a strategic approach to getting things done. They find success in seeing you succeed, and do whatever they can to guide you, educate you and support you into being your best. If you have a great boss or manager, count your blessings for their ability to give acknowledgement, listen well, and explain themselves when necessary.
But if you have a difficult boss or manager who pushes and demands rather than engages and enrolls, here are a few tips you may want to use to guide your own behavior.
1. Be assertive, because passive behavior is an invitation for abuse, and aggressive behavior just leads to prolonged battles. Pushy bosses have more respect for people who stand up for themselves than for people who attack back or get intimidated or knocked over.
2. When you’re on the receiving end of criticism, ask for the details. Not just some details, but all of them. And not just once. Keep asking until you know the exact nature of the criticism and the facts behind it.
3. Take responsibility for your own feelings. If you react badly to bad behavior, you have the option to change your reaction instead of wishing your boss would change. The best alternative to being the effect of the bad boss’s cause, is to be the cause of your own emotional effects.
4. Get it in writing. If you find that what you are being told to do is questionable, then say “I want that in writing.” That places the responsibility for the execution of their directives squarely where it belongs.
5. Talk to your boss’s boss. Ask for help in resolving problems with your boss, or just keep them informed of what’s going on. But don’t do this covertly, or behind your boss’s back. Instead, do it right out in the open. Tell your boss that you intend to talk with their boss about the specific problems you’re having with them, and invite them to come with you. “You’ll do a better job of representing the reasons behind your behavior than I ever could. I just want to get this resolved fairly and quickly so I can get back to work.” If your boss declines, at least they heard about it from you.
6. Document the problems. A document speaks louder than words if the time ever comes where you have to take action to protect yourself. Write down what happened, where it happened, when it happened, who was there when it happened.
Best of luck in dealing with difficult bosses. Let me know if these tips are helpful to you. You can leave a comment by making an entry in the “Leave comments” section below.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.