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How to Deal With a Psycho Boss

by Mitch Reid

In a 2012 USA Today article, Psychologist Robert Hogan states that 75 percent of adult workers blame their boss for workplace stress. From inconsistent demands to unrealistic expectations, there are many ways your boss can get under your skin and drive you crazy. However, as you hunt for strategies to coexist with your difficult boss, always leave room for empathy.

Understand Motivations

Take some time to understand your boss. In a Forbes.com article, executive coach and author Monica Wofford offers four motivating factors that drive leaders. Some leaders are focused on positive results; others are more focused on the work process. Some leaders simply want to get along with everyone; others crave admiration. Determine what motivates your boss to better understand the world through his perspective.

Control Your Emotions

Just because your boss is being difficult doesn't mean you should follow suit. On the contrary, it’s your job to keep your own emotions in check. PsychologyToday.com suggests that you remain calm and professional, even in the face of your boss's fits of rage. If you join in on the negativity, whether through passive-aggressive methods or blunt name-calling, not only will you risk losing your job, but your boss will continue to make life miserable for your coworkers. Instead, use this opportunity to try and improve the work environment for everyone.

Talk

Explain your problem to human resources or other coworkers. If the feedback you receive seems to imply your boss really is the problem, plan a meeting with your boss outside of work. Rehearse what you are going to say during this casual meeting. Remember to keep in mind what motivates your boss. Imagine things from the boss's perspective to help you craft an effective message. The American Psychological Association advises employees to avoid making talk with the boss into a confrontation. The goal isn't to insult or scold. The goal is to make your boss aware of how her words and actions are ruining the workplace atmosphere. For example, explain that her negativity not only leaves you and your coworkers stressed, but it can also reduce productivity, hurting the business itself.

Set Boundaries

Don’t allow your boss to take advantage of you. Set some clear boundaries, either aloud or in your head, following your chat with your boss. If these boundaries are crossed, you should consider finding a new job or consulting a higher authority, such as human resources or company executives. For example, if your boss continues to shout at you or your coworkers, consider this to be an overstepping of boundaries.

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