The time you spend thinking about how much you can’t stand your boss or your supervisor or your team leader is time you’ll never get back. Hardly any of us doesn’t know the agony of working for a terrible boss who drives us nuts in one way or another. The very fact that you have to have a boss – a person in charge of YOU – is enough to annoy the best of us.
Add to that a bad manager who is also incompetent or insensitive or a perfectionist or countless other boss qualities … well, this is enough to drive anyone nuts! So I get it. You can’t stand your boss. But what can you do about it short of quitting, which is not always possible. Or the best solution.
Does complaining to coworkers help?
Sure it feels good to get together with other co-workers and just let the complaints fly. In fact, sometimes you find yourself rolling on the floor as people imitate the ogre or tell one good “my boss is stupid” story after another. Release feels good. So it must be a useful way of dealing with a boss you can’t stand, right?
Well … not really.
Sure it feels great to vent your feelings about your horrible boss, rather than holding them in. I’m all for a good gripe session now and then if it puts you in touch with stuff that’s eating at you.
But that said … what if every day you just bitch and moan about your boss or your job (whether to others or just to yourself)? Each and every day. Is complaining really getting it out, or just reinforcing your misery?
What does all this time spent in anger toward your boss or your job actually do for YOU in the long run? Truth be told … not much that will help you like your job better.
Been there, done that
As someone who early in my career was the queen of the complainers, I can tell you it’s a hard habit to break. But I can also tell you, it can be done. And it’s well worth it. Even if you can’t stand your boss, you won’t find a solution getting stuck rehashing the problem.
A friend of mine recently wrote me about her new teaching job. She remembers from her last job where her co-workers would sit around on breaks and just gripe about everything. Especially their annoying boss. It felt good at the time to get it out. And it made people feel connected. After all, they got to hate their boss together. And bonding can be very comforting … and addicting.
But what my friend realized was she wound up connected to other miserable people because of what she was doing. And that became a large part of her experience. In fact it helped shape how how she felt about the job. And, as a result, it shaped how she performed in the job — only leading to more negative feedback.
Let go of “can’t stand boss” mentality
So instead, in this new job, to help her break the “I hate my boss” habit, she now brings a book to read or works on her writing on breaks. She says she’s happier than she’s ever been on a job. Is her boss all that much better? Not really. But her days aren’t spent sitting in anger and negativity.
As for bonding, she meets people to talk to one-on-one about things other than how awful the boss or work is. And if she needs to bitch and moan about something that happened, well that’s what friends and family are for. Less is more when it comes to complaining in the workplace!
Gripe sessions at work not only keep you immersed in the misery, but also leave you vulnerable to snitches who like to tell the boss what’s being said. In the end, you spend so much time talking about the misery, that it’s hard to then go back to the job and find a way to feel good about the job or yourself. Time spent focused on how bad everything is less time for you to make it better for yourself. And it’s certainly not the path to success.
And on top of that, if your work friendships are mostly about the agony, it makes it even harder for you to then become someone who enjoys what you’re doing. When you box yourself into a misery circle that only reinforces the bad parts and does nothing to help you break out into a happier, healthier situation.
12 things to help reboot situation
Rather than hating your boss or your job with so much intensity, take some of that energy and redirect it. If your “can’t stand your boss” mindset is taking a big chunk out of your work energy, here are some things to try:
- Look for things you and your boss have in common. Even bosses you don’t like may have one or two things in common with you to help you shift the way you interact.
- If you can talk to your boss about things you have in common, you can progress to work things where your ideas can be heard.
- Find something that needs doing and offer to take it on. This will help get you more invested in the place. And perhaps shift how you are seen — and appreciated.
- Come up with ways to improve the work process and maybe save the company money.
- Make friends with positive people. And if possible those on your boss’s good side.
- Focus on the job and how to do it better.
- Go above and beyond in your regular work. And make sure your boss finds out about it (the true benefit of good allies).
A few more reboot “helpers”
- Focus on what you have and not on those things you don’t have.
- Start to project a more positive and competent attitude.
- Check your the ‘tude at the door. You earn respect in each new situation; it’s not due you.
- Be the person who says “I can” and not “Can’t be done.”
- If you see a problem, come with solutions. It’s ok to bring up things that bug you, but come armed with possible remedies. Not just gripes.
By the way, if you put all that effort into hating your boss, imagine how that affects how they feel about you. People can intuit the hate. Conversely, they can also feel sincerity and respect. Which do you think is the smartest choice of action?
Check where your emotional energy is being focused
And then look to aim it where it can actually do you some good!
Of course, there are some situations so awful there really isn’t much you can do but move on. But in most situations if you can’t stand your boss, there’s at least one thing you can do to improve how you feel about your boss or your job. And if the first try doesn’t work, please keep trying!
[Article updated in 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
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