A boss can make the workplace miserable. Given how much time people spend in the office, life can become wretched. You can start to feel angry, humiliated, anxious and depressed. You tell your co-workers just how bad this supervisor is, how they treat you, how they make you feel. Your boss really is a jerk, you claim. You consider doing something about it, but take no steps. You hope that they stop acting this way and that everything will just get better on its own.
But of course they don’t stop. They keep yelling at you, keeping you late, making you redo reports. They criticize your work. They criticize you. You start to realize that change is unlikely. You try to do everything you can do to avoid a blowout, but nothing works. Your job becomes a prison where each day is spent thinking about how much you hate your boss, feeling terrible, dreading each interaction.
There are two steps on the path forward. Both may seem difficult but are surprisingly simple:
- Acknowledge what you might be bringing to the table and why your boss’s behavior bothers you so much. Because even if you have found solace in group gossip about your manager, chances are there are some reasons why you are so personally frustrated by this person. Do they remind you of someone else in your life? Can you absolutely not tolerate criticism? What is it about you that makes your boss seem so bad? As intolerable as they seem, and as little as you want to do this, you may be surprised at what answers arise.
- The complementary approach—one that can be incredibly hard to come to terms with—is to empathize with your boss.
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