It is never a pretty sight. You drive into work, pull into the company parking lot and there, sitting in his personal spot, is your boss’s car. Arghhh! Doesn’t he ever stay home, get sick, take a personal day? But no, he doesn’t, especially when you absolutely loathe your boss. Your demon-boss always makes it in just so as to keep his bargain with Satan: fat-cat wages in return for making YOUR life completely miserable.
No easy answers to this one: The hard truth may be that hating your boss is something likely to happen from time to time and always impossible to predict. Bosses come and go, we don’t often get to choose who they are. When a boss from Hell happens to us, we can plot various nefarious activities for eliminating the problem but it still won’t go away completely, somebody new will one day come along. So let’s break it all down into its logical syllogism so we can consider how to deal with it:
1) We HATE someone when they do bad things to us.
2) If they would stop doing bad things, we’d no longer have reason to hate them.
3) Conclusion: We must find a way to make bad bosses stop doing all these bad things to us.
At this point a tip from the President of the United States may be helpful: What exactly is our definition of “bad”? Is it possible to perceive a boss’s comments and behaviors in a different light such that they no longer feel “bad” to us? Maybe a boss you love to hate is an opportunity for self-learning—why does THIS kind of remark make me feel THAT way? Could something from my childhood explain why I react the way I do? Would an internal journey of self-discovery, based around the behavior of my boss, be worth the trip?
Then there’s the view that perhaps your boss is just a poor, struggling lamb crying out with his sorry antics for help? Can you find a way to look upon your boss in such a way that you perceive his good intentions while acknowledging that his execution is pretty lame? Maybe your boss could use your counsel. Is it really necessary, for example, that he begin every sentence with, “Look, we’ve got a terrible problem here?” Maybe somebody should tell him to lighten up.
But there are certainly no magical answers here. Bottom line, it’s no fun to deal with such a boss. Half the time you just want to run away. At the very least, you just can’t stand the guy.
So what do you do? Actually, I’d like to get some ideas from YOU. When you’ve locked horns with a difficult boss in the past, when he or she makes life so plug-ugly you just can’t stand it anymore, when you want to rip an evil boss’s heart out, what have you done? Quit? Set fire to his car? Had pizzas delivered to his home at 3 in the morning?
I’m not trying to give you any ideas here, just the opposite. Email me your experiences and solutions, and I’ll share them with the rest of the class. Let’s especially try to help all those browbeaten souls out there struggling with this issue right now. I’ll publish the best ideas in a future column.
In the end, hating’s no fun anyway. But doing something to eliminate Mr. Hails-From-Hades most certainly is!
Ken Lizotte CMC is Chief Imaginative Officer (CIO) of emerson consulting group inc. (Concord, MA), which transforms consultants, law firms, executives and companies into “thoughtleaders. ” This article is an excerpt from his newest book “Beyond Reason: Questioning Assumptions of Everyday Life".
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