Help! My Boss is a Nightmare.

At some point in your career – maybe at multiple points – you’re probably going to have a bad boss. You’re not alone. Look up “bad boss” on Amazon.com, and you’ll find a long list of books dedicated to the subject. It turns out that there are a lot of bad bosses out there and a lot of people who need help dealing with them!

Wanted: the perfect boss.
If only we could fix all the bad bosses, our jobs would be great. Right? Our newly refurbished bosses would be reasonable, available, friendly, intelligent, open-minded, encouraging and good at providing feedback. They would know when to help out and when to back off. They would be sympathetic to our emotional states and factor them into our performance ratings. And they would be likable.

Be honest. Are you holding out hope that someone will fix your boss in this way? Are you waiting for the ideal boss before you start digging into your job and producing the kind of results you’re being paid to produce? Well, this is never going to happen. The reality is that bad bosses exist. We must accept this fact and succeed anyway. Otherwise, “bad boss” becomes just another sorry excuse for our own shortcomings.

Ignore the “should.”
If your boss is a jerk, that’s one thing. That may well be your reality. But as soon as you start thinking that your boss shouldn’t be a jerk, that’s when your problems actually begin. That simple judgment creates a story in your head – a story that is not based on facts. And the worst thing you can do is to make up a story, believe it and stress over it.

Change your mindset – not your boss.
Think you can’t work for a bad boss? You may be out of luck. The fact is, we all probably encounter more bad bosses than good ones over the course of a career. If you’re waiting for a good boss to magically appear before you bestow the gift of your productivity, you will be sidelined very quickly. So work with what you’ve got.

First, resolve to accept reality. You might have a terrible boss, or you might have a boss who messed up, made a bad decision or lacks a key skill. But that’s life. That’s human nature. Avoid turning this reality into a bigger story about how your boss is a jerk who is trying to undermine your career.

Second, focus on achieving your best despite the circumstances. Bosses come in all the varieties that humans do. You will have good bosses. You will have bad bosses. And, in fact, the bad ones give you an opportunity to become stronger and more competent. An indifferent boss shows you how to manage yourself, solve problems and independently and step into roles with greater responsibility. An emotionally volatile boss helps you practice your poker face – a great skill when you’re in vendor negotiations or customer service! An incompetent boss allows you to let your own talents shine while polishing your diplomacy skills.

See? Instead of roadblocks, your boss is providing you with opportunities. Bottom line: No one can change your circumstances. The only way out is through, so change your mindset.

Learn more about how to succeed with a terrible boss in Cy's best selling book - Reality Based Rules of the Workplace.

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