Hopefully the biggest monsters you find on this Oct. 31st will be knocking on your door looking for candy, but sometimes a bad boss happens. When you find yourself working for someone who is insecure or over his or her own head it can make your job even harder. We like Dana’s advice for thinking about these situations. As she says, “detrigger early and often!” – InPower Editors
I love Halloween. The little kids are so cute and their enthusiasm for candy is infectious (I always buy enough for all of us!)
Unfortunately, not all the monsters we encounter in our careers are so cute and there’s nothing more horrifying or terrorizing than a bad boss – especially early in our career. There are many things that make a boss bad: incompetence, insecurity, immaturity are top on the list. It’s important to remember, however that these monsters are also people. Sometimes they are also overwhelmed, under-supported and over their heads.
Whatever your situation, if you find yourself being managed by a bad boss, the most important thing for you to do is to remember that both you and s/he are contributing to the negative relationship. Take responsibility for your half of the problem and don’t allow yourself to feel guilty about their half – at all.
This is way easier said than done, I know. But I also know that two of my worst bosses, the ones who could make me feel like dirt by looking at me sideways, are also the two people who taught me most about the workplace, my professional value and how good I was at my job. Here is what I learned that helped me turn those bad boss experiences into professional victories.
I recognized my own value – When people make you feel like a nobody, it’s a clear sign that their reaction is out of whack. Everyone is a somebody so when this happens, alarm bells should go off and make you question their perspective. Get other people’s insights on your performance to help you balance the feedback you get from the bad boss. Pretty soon you’ll start to see your own value more realistically.
I learned to stand up for myself – Once I realized their perspective was warped, I gained the strength to speak up on behalf of my own performance and give them an alternative view on what I was doing and how I was doing it. It didn’t “fix” them or our relationship, but it made me feel better and it actually did increase the respect they had for me.
I learned to walk away – While they learned to respect me more, it turned out not to be enough, and I learned that I have the right to leave work situations where I’m being under-valued and under appreciated. I left one out of anger and regretted it, since I didn’t feel comfortable asking that boss for a reference. In the other situation, I made the best of it until I had gained the professional experience I needed and chose my time to move on more appropriately. That boss was a good reference. Over time, as my professional success grew I was able to reapproach my first bad boss and reestablish a good connection, but it took longer than it should have.
The lessons above were hard to learn and took a long time, but in learning them I learned how I could detrigger myself. When I’ve detriggered, I find that real life monsters of all kinds (e.g., bosses, colleagues and family members) tend to leave me alone more. Why? I think it’s because I bore them. I’m not triggered so I don’t give them much to work with. They ignore me and go on to someone else more triggered (i.e., more “fun”).
We all have difficult relationships in our lives and when we see them as opportunities for our own growth, they help us. Like many of the monsters in fairy tales, they show us parts of ourselves we need to understand more intimately. It’s not an easy way to handle the situation, but it is an InPowering way.
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