How To Deal With A Difficult Boss

Anyone who has been an employee for any length of time will have had a difficult boss to deal with. It is usually put down to a personality trait or a lack of people skills, however I want you to consider that it might be you that is being difficult and the boss is just trying to get the job done. Why might it be you? After all, aren't they the one who are over-bearing, demanding and continually try to grind you down?

There are several theories out there as to why people don't get along, however I want to explore just a few reasons which may help you if you are trying to handle that difficult boss.

Those reasons are:

FOCUS They have a different Focus to you. We all have a general area of focus: either Task Focus or People Focus. Ask yourself which is their Focus? What is my focus compared to theirs? 

Behaviour Their behaviour is a lot different to yours. Again, we all have a general area of behaviour and usually move up and down a continuum between Aggressive and Passive. What is their behaviour when they are being difficult for you? What is my behaviour when they are being difficult?

This leads to the 4 major behaviour types at work:

Assertive/Aggressive and Task Focus: Communicates in a short and direct manner. Just wants the bottom line or get the job done. Their need is to get things done and have control.

How to deal with this type: It's a good idea to get straight to the point. Match their direct communication without sounding too aggressive. Don't waffle or be defensive. Be a straight-talker, get directly to the point. Demonstrate you have things in control by getting right to the bottom line.

Passive and Task Focus: Communicates all the detail, as this is most important to them. Their need is to get things right. Accuracy is valued and perfection is the goal. Anything less will drive them crazy! 

How to deal with this type: Slow down to meet them on the common ground of precision. Ensure accuracy of any submissions to them by double-checking your work. Give them the details, because that important to them.

Passive and People Focus: They are all about ensuring the relationship is ok. They want to be appreciated for their sensitivity. They communicate with care and empathy. Decisions will take people's feelings into account first and foremost. 

How to deal with this type: Make time for them to come to a decision and don't box them into a corner as this will stress them out. Slow your communication down to meet them on common ground. Make everything safe to proceed.

Aggressive and People Focus: The need for this type is attention. They want to be noticed and will communicate loud and enthusiastically.

How to deal with this type: Give them the spotlight, centre stage. Even for your ideas! Whatever you do, don't ignore them, this drives them nuts.

Understanding where you are when dealing with your boss is a key skill. If you can move into their area of focus and behaviour, then you demonstrate commitment to them and build trust in them that you understand their needs.

Your boss being difficult may have more to do with your focus and your behaviour and this is a difficult concept for many of us. But if you persist in thinking this way, you will reduce your difficulties with them, build trust and credibility as well as that illusive rapport that we all talk about.

Have your best week ever!

Mervyn is an international leadership development specialist and keynote speaker delivering inspirational workshops and talks around the world.

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