You’re not always going to have a boss you love. Some bosses might yell at you in front of your coworkers, demand impossible perfection, or just aren’t clear about what they want you to do. It’s a nightmare.
If this happens to you, it’s important that you handle the situation professionally.
Here are 8 ways to handle a tough situation with a boss from hell…
1. Don’t Retaliate
Never fight fire with fire. It’s hard to not get provoked when someone screams in your face, but never react by yelling back. The last thing you need is to get involved in a screaming match with your boss (and end up jobless!).
When they are in your face, look them in the eye, stay neutral, and just wait them out. Don’t say anything. When they are done, pick up right where you left off as if nothing happened. Say something like… “I understand. So you want me to rewrite that email, correct?”
2. Get To Know Your Boss
See if you can assess your bosses behavior. Observe what happened just before they flew off the handle. Is there something that pushes them over the edge? If there is, try your damnedest to avoid EVER doing that!!
Or, it may not have anything to do with you. They are under stress too, probably way more than you.
Being able to read people’s behavior is valuable skill that you can carry with you in any relationship. There are lots of books on this, grab one and pick up a few useful strategies.
3. Speak Up!
But do it the right way!
Approach your boss when they have calmed down. Explain how you see the situation and ask if there is something you can do to avoid it happening again. Letting them know you heard them will make a difference. People often yell because they think no one hears them.
It’s only natural to stand up for yourself but do it appropriately. Do not be defensive, be understanding. It might look like this: “I didn’t understand the way I wrote the email was not consistent with the tone of voice of the company. I now understand it needs to more formal.”
4. Stay a Step Ahead of Them
If you have a boss who micromanages to the point of tearing out your hair, get the jump on them. Send them daily or weekly updates on what you are doing. They may feel a lack of control, and being proactive can restore that for them.
You will also demonstrate that you are on top of things and that you have your priorities in order. If your boss does have other priorities, they have an opportunity to let you know that before they get frustrated.
5. Don’t Give Your Boss Ammunition
Does your boss fly off the handle at the smallest thing? Then you need to make sure you don’t give them a reason to get mad at you.
- Make sure you turn off your phone while you are at work. Really?
- Have you promised to meet a deadline by the end of the week? Meet it!
- Need time off? Your boss doesn’t need every little detail. Keep it simple and to the point.
- Ask your boss for feedback. Find out how you are performing and if there is anything you could do better. Being proactive could nip the problem in the bud and prevent another yelling situation. It also shows you are committed to your work.
6. Don’t Play the Blame Game
It’s easy to blame someone else when something unpleasant happens. Don’t “blame” yourself, or anyone else. Look at what you might have done to prevent it, or what you could do differently if it happens again. That’s taking responsibility, not blame, which makes you feel worse.
This way, you will learn something valuable about yourself, how you work, or how your boss works. It’s empowering to be accountable, and it takes courage to take a hard look.
7. Don’t Take It Personally
Having a boss who is just plain mean may seriously blow your confidence, but don’t take it to heart. You don’t know what is going on in their life that is making them act this way (maybe they have a boss from hell too?!) Think it out, take positive action. That makes you stronger, more confident.
8. Move On
If you can move within the company to a new sector or team, do that. But sometimes it’s just not a good fit, or nothing you do works. Move on. But, when you do, never speak ill of your former boss. That will come back to haunt you.