To preface this article I’ll say very clearly that it was not written about my current boss. I could pass this article off as a work of ‘fiction’ but my writing style would let me down. Whilst my work is always an amalgamation of reality and fantasy, past and present and I let the reader be the judge, i’ll say clearly that this article does not depict my current boss(es) in character or in example.
As we all faithfully return to the work for the new year, resolutions steadfast, bodies relaxed and positive attitudes restored, I felt it was only right to kick off with a work themed article. All of us walk such unique paths in the careers that we follow. Some of us are lucky to get it right straight away, others of us dip in and out of jobs finding experience, promotions, success or learning curves along the way. What makes a job positive differs for us all but I have always been strongly influenced by companionship of colleagues or functioning in a team.
Then comes your boss, who ultimately has the power to shape your days, happiness and career satisfaction. Like it or not, having a great boss or a shit boss really changes your mood, mental-health, attitude and life.
Here’s my tips for working with the boss from hell (without resorting to killing them):
- Invest in sound silencing earphones
- Set yourself tasks to complete each day that take you away from the office (and hopefully, into a parallel universe) so that you are able to reset your mental equilibrium, get a change of scenery and do something small to benefit you. Even a quick walk to the post office can delay the onset of desk depression.
- Practice deep breathing. The worst effect of having a shit boss is letting their stress affect your mental harmony. Avoid this by taking deep breaths when they piss you off. Deep breathing (yes, from the diaphragm) sends a message to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) that says you are calm and there’s no need to worry. It helps the body to continue functioning effectively and protects you from stress.
- Strategically network whenever you have the chance in the hope that you will be poached to work for a less shit boss. If this means making email friends with PA’s of heavy hitters in your industry then god speed, go forward and network, darling.
- Start dosing shit boss’ coffee with a healthy dose of laxatives.
- Take this opportunity to brush up on your acting skills; use intently staring at an important document as a reason to ignore whatever your shit boss is saying to you.
- If you are unfortunate enough to have to share a desk with your shit boss strategically place a plant between your workspaces. Also, don’t be afraid to pull out gaffa tape to define your free workspace from theirs.
- If shit boss calls you ‘Dude’, ‘Champ’ or ‘Legend’, unless you are a cowboy, surf or sports buff and do like it tell them that you do not. Nickname veto is okay in the workplace.
- Create boundaries where possible. Depending on the work environment (and their level of competency set) boundaries for work and personal time, particularly if you have work emails on your phone or take your computer home. It’s fine to answer phone calls and emails between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm (for example) but anything before/after that can be severely intrusive and shouldn’t really be expected of you. Your personal life should be respected just as much as much as their inability to remember their passwords or search their emails is conveniently overlooked in their application to enter adulthood.
- If you have control of their calendar make sure you confirm their attendance at EVERY POSSIBLE meeting they are invited to.
- See how few words you can say to them each day. If you make it to less than 10 reward yourself with a day off
- Always have a holiday booked and take pleasure in crossing off each day that you make it through work as one sweet step closer to escape.
- A lunch break exists for a reason – take it. Go outside, preferably in the sun and luxuriate in the fresh air.
- Remember that the best way to counter anger or frustration is with a calm response. Not only will the outcome be more positive but you’ll really piss them off if they’re looking for an emotional reaction.
- Keep a hip flask of vodka in your desk in case of emergency.
- Practice the art of smiling sweetly whilst you imagine punching them repeatedly in the face.
Goodluck! Happy return to work for 2017.
N.B – JLM takes no responsibility for the action or outcome of any of the above mentioned strategies.