Is the office turning into a battlefield? Is the pressure tremendous and growing? Are you mad all the time, even when you come home?? You have come to the right place on the web then.
Well, often in life there are situations we cannot come out of, no matter how much we try. If you have a Mad-man as your boss, a man who would release of all his worldly tensions through you – you ARE in such a place!!
No matter how much you draw cartoons of him and share them on Facebook (A REAL stress buster, by the way!!), the hidden pressure does not seem to go away.
Let us try then, to find out what best we can do about your situation.
First, forget the fact that you are helpless. You, at whichever capacity you are in, are a professional and there may be some constraints, but you are in no way ‘stuck in a job’. It’s important to realize this before we start. Please get this clear in your mind. You are an adult human being and no matter how pathetic you are, DO NOT play the ‘victim-card’ to yourself or to anyone else. Do not ever feel helpless in life because there are always options. You just have to be bold enough to take them. Your lack of boldness is not your Boss’s fault.
I have been a sailor all my life. In my profession, Bosses change very often. I have had the fortune (No, I cannot say ‘Misfortune’ here, because everyone teaches you something) to work with people who would have won an award in ‘International Grumpiness’ category if there was such a thing – those who would never be pleased or happy ever!! I would not say that I knew exactly what to do at the time because most of it has come up as a coping mechanism while working under them. But yes, these principles worked for me at later stages. And worked to such an extent that few of them still are in touch with me and have high regard for me.
I know what you must have thought in your mind so many times – “Wish he understood….” “Wish he didn’t have to vent all his tensions through me…” “Wish he could talk like a normal person…” and at times with much worse connotations.
All above are wishes. Wishes may come true, but we cannot wait for that, can we? This blog is not for your boss, it’s for you!!! If I wanted to try and change your Boss, I will write another one for him later….but as of now let’s find out the psychology behind all this grumpiness and let’s see what is in Our hand.
Bosses who are excessively assertive, and want things done precisely in a certain way, are often the ones who get angry pretty fast and want to push their weight around. They want everyone to know ‘WHO is the Boss’.
Well there are usually few common traits associated with these people:
- They are usually high achievers and coveted by the senior management, which means they can ‘perform. This is a fair assumption to make because in any industry a person cannot be a bully without performing. Others usually return to their shell and have to depend on their juniors to keep up their names. That confidence from where all this yelling comes, is, more often than not, from well-defined achievements. So, no matter how much you abuse them, they are doing something right.
- They are seldom happy with what you do. At best they don’t comment. At worst they make your very existence look useless. Usually, this is the result of an excessively high self-esteem. They feel appreciation is counterproductive, it makes you complacent. At times, they feel appreciation is useless, or that it undermines their own authority. In my time in the navy, we have seen such Captains, for whom it was “My way or the Highway”. Such people have mellowed down now with all the Management training and advice on teamwork imparted, but they are still the same inherently. It shows at times.
- They usually are goal-oriented: They will not take NO for an answer, no matter how justified it looks to you. They will not want to hear your excuses, even if those excuses are justified. Again, this is not really a bad thing, if you think of it from a neutral place.
- They are not adaptable. They want things done a certain way and they will not deviate, no matter how much you try to persuade. This belief has come over years of practice and there is not much you can do to change that.
- Often they have deep personal problems at home or elsewhere, due to which the achievements in the workplace are the only places for them to find solace and satisfaction.
What to do about them then?
Follow these methods – just follow them blindly and tell me your results.
- Raise your credibility level: There is no excuse for underperformance, and there should not be. You as a professional are expected to do your job- no more, no less. Do not give yourself that excuse, whether your Boss is a Tiger or a Snail. That is your commitment to the job. If you truly feel you are lacking there, roll up your sleeves and spend more time to learn your job until you reach that level where you are confident of what you do.
- Know what you are supposed to do: Unless you are managing your own work with extreme ease, do not venture into being proactive and doing other people’s jobs. If you make a mistake you will be thrashed for that, and it won’t feel good. However, once you are confident in your job responsibility, and once you are managing them well, do step up to be proactive and that will be appreciated.
- Do not talk much: Keep conversations to a minimum at first, talking only about things which are essential. Do not divulge excessive information, unless you feel they are essential to the job or to the aim the company is trying to achieve.
- Always be professional: This is more like a disclaimer to the former point. You need to report the good and bad things to your boss, no matter how angry he gets, as long as they are relevant. What I mean is – be honest enough to tell him exactly what is relevant, but not excited enough to give him excessive information.
- Learn: If you think he is telling you something valuable, even if it is in a wrong tone, do not lose the opportunity to learn from it. Such people can teach you few of the most valuable lessons in your profession
- Keep calm: This perhaps is the most difficult yet most important thing. While he is shouting at you, or yelling, keep absolutely calm. Wait for that momentary pause between his sentences. You need to respond in a calm and confident way, not raising your voice and not being confrontational in what you say. If you do not have anything, a simple “Okay Sir” will do, as long as it is said in eye contact and with confidence.I advocate meditation for achieving this state. Even 5 minutes a day can change your life.
- Do not accept personal blows: If he gets personal at any time, or if he yells at you in front of your juniors or ridicules you, you should not keep quiet. But at the same time, your reply should not be overtly confrontational. A cold statement like: “Please do not say that Sir” can work miracles. You will be surprised how many angry bosses are quietened by one person who would not take his brunt. Do that if needed. But cover your bases beforehand. Make sure he does not get you cornered. Do some research and ensure you are correct.
- Empathize, be the bigger person: When he has faith in your abilities, talk to him like a friend. Try to empathize, because I am sure he has a deep rooted personal problem which gives rise to such actions. Bring them out and you will have made peace with him at some level.