what to do when your boss is a jerk Archives | Life Coach Library

What to Do When Your Boss Is a Jerk

Career & Business

A dream job could turn into a nightmare when you have a boss who seems to go out of their way to be a jerk to you. Sometimes, they seem to get some twisted pleasure in making you miserable. Some environments have such a toxic culture; the employees have come to think it’s normal for their bosses to behave this way. Worse still, they believe it’s a rite of passage.

Dreading Monday

It can be so bad that you get depressed the moment you realize after a beautiful weekend that you have to resume work on Monday. The thought of sharing the same building with such a boss is incredibly depressing and can ruin your mood for the rest of the day or the whole week. You even get the feeling your boss hates being at work almost as much as you do.

My boss is a jerk

You know the one: No matter what you do, it’s never right or enough. You could be on your own, doing your own thing, or you could be asked to perform a task. You give it your best shot, but all you get is a barrage of complaints and criticism at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter what industry you are working in; jerk bosses can be anywhere.

Then there’s the one who probably has no life of his own and expects you to stay after hours to do things that could quickly have been done during the workday or are entirely above and beyond your job description AND pay grade! 

To put things in perspective, Robert I. Sutton provided a robust definition of who a jerk boss is. He is quite knowledgeable in this field as he’s a Stanford University professor and New York Times best-selling author of The No-A$$-hole Rule.  He is referring to the manager who leaves you feeling de-energized, disrespected, and demeaned. 

In a perfect world, you have a great boss and love going to work.  If you don’t, you might want to consider a career change.   In the meantime, when you have no other option than to go to your hellish job so you can survive and pay the bills, consider these career tips to make it bearable.

 

Take it in Stride and kill them with kindness.

Usually, when people treat others poorly, it stems from deep insecurity and fear they have of their leading potential.  They somehow confuse intimidation with leadership.   Meeting them with anger and resentment only makes things fester and get worse, especially when they have the power to make your life miserable.  According to Sutton, in such a situation, treat them with respect, kindness, and give them genuine compliments.  At the very least, you’ll confuse them, but chances are, you will gradually soften their brashness and create a better space for yourself. 

This move may not work in all instances if your boss is a power-hungry and derives joy in treating people like dirt. In that case, it’s a defensive move—think of them as the miserable person they are, feel sorry for them,  smile, and move on!  Or, in your mind, see them as a comical figure. By doing this, you create an emotional distance.  It’s not worth getting upset or angry at The Joker so just laugh (to yourself)  at their irrational behavior. 

Limit interaction to the minimum needed to do your job.

You tried. Remember, you only have control of how you act and react, not how other people receive you.   Their attitude is not going to change, and there isn’t a thing you can do except take care of yourself.

You have to figure out a way to survive, and we recommend space and distance.  Create as much of it as you can so that their negativity does not pollute your psyche.

Give yourself kudos for not stooping to their level. Be graceful about the situation and act like their hurtful words little spit-balls that a 6-year-old would spew out.  In time, you’ll develop a thick skin, and it won’t affect you as much.

Consult with other colleagues or managers when you need help as the first line of defense.  When there is no way around dealing with them, be polite and respectful but get straight to the point so that your meeting is as brief and professional as possible.   

Take advantage of modern technology.

Here’s another easy way to create space and distance: instead of having face-to-face interactions, try to communicate electronically whenever it is useful and appropriate.   It’s much easier to brush off sarcastic comments when they’re online, and if you get heated, you have time to pull yourself together before engaging in any drama.    

If they send several unpleasant emails—don’t reply to them immediately. Get yourself together, compose a short and polite reply to that email. Try not to get into the vicious cycle where you keep getting angry and offended by everything they say.   

Know the situation and the jerk you’re dealing with.

Take a moment, sit down and do a thorough analysis, ask yourself;

  1. How much power or control do I have over the situation?
  2. How much am I suffering?  How can I look at this differently for my sanity?   

If you have a boss who is insulting you, dumping on you, and being disrespectful, try not to retaliate or fuel their anger.  Sometimes, when you look closely at the situation you find yourself in,  you realize your boss is criticizing you because the job is beyond anyone’s control, or it’s entirely a broken system.  Instead, approach them when they’re calm and express your irritation as polite as you can.

If you believe that won’t work, bypass him and go to their superior or directly to Human Resources to file a complaint.   It may be better to bond together with your coworkers experiencing the same problem, form a coalition, and try expressing how toxic and hostile the workplace has become a group. This way, it would become difficult to push people around or single out one person.

When you document and complain as a collective group, you’re more likely to get the problem sorted out than when you try to do it alone. Don’t rush, get your facts right, get concrete proof, and make sure there’s no dissent among you. Then present your evidence to an impartial person in authority.

Don’t quit in rage

Don’t hesitate to resign if you no longer feel safe at your workplace, or you’re being demeaned and insulted constantly. But don’t make any decisions in rage. Plan a departure so that you can leave the company on the best terms possible, you never know when you may need to use them as a reference, and if you storm out, you’ve burned that bridge.  

Consider your options and make a plan.   If you’re unsure how to come up with a sound strategy, consider working with a career coach.   They are skilled at helping you clarify your goals and putting into action a plan that brings results.   One of the most grueling experiences in life is the job-search, and having the extra support of a professional will help you stay focused and sane through this tedious process.

It can be so bad that you get depressed the moment you realize after a wonderful weekend that you have to resume work on Monday. The thought of sharing the same building with such a boss is extremely depressing and can ruin your mood for the rest of the day, or the whole week. You even get the feeling, your boss hates being at work just as much as you do.

You know the one: No matter what you do, it’s never right or enough. You could be on your own, doing your own thing, or you could be asked to perform a task. You give it your best shot, but all you get is a barrage of compalints and criticism at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter what industry you are working in, jerk bosses can be anywhere.

Then theres the one who probably has no life of his own and expects you to stay after hours to do things that could easily have been done during the workday or are entirely above and beyond your job description AND pay grade!

To put things in perspective, Robert I. Sutton provided a robust definition of who a jerk boss is. He is quite knowledgeable in this field as he’s a Stanford University professor and New York Times best-selling author of The No-A$$-hole Rule.  He is referring to the manager who  leaves you feeling de-energized, disrespected and demeaned.

In a perfect world, you have a great boss and love going to work.  If you don’t, you might want to consider a career change.   In the meantime, when you have no other option than to go to your hellish job so you can survive and pay the bills consider these career tips to make it bearable.

Save Filter
×
Menu
Account