Everyone in their life has had at least one bad boss — someone who's unfair, incompetent, rude, mean, lazy, or who takes advantage of their employees. Often, you might feel like the only options are to either be miserable or to quit, even if you otherwise enjoy your job.
But there's hope. Travel back to your kindergarten classroom to remember 10 life lessons that will help make your relationship with your horrible boss more positive.
1. Play fair
When you’re working for a horrible boss, one natural inclination is to judge every aspect of what they do as horrible. This is a mistake, as it will likely only build up further animosity.
Instead, try to acknowledge what your boss is doing well or correct — it might help you understand where the negative behaviors are coming from. Remember, your boss is likely also an employee of another boss and could be facing the same pressure and stress.
So play fair, remember that your boss is only human, too, and try to use that understanding to get to the bottom of the situation. Your clarity could help figure out how to work with your boss moving forward.
2. Use your words
If you feel your boss has offended you, is overwhelming you with work, or otherwise is being unfair, speak up and use your words. It’s possible your boss doesn’t recognize that what they said was offensive or that you’re already swamped with work. Open those doors of communication by setting up regular meetings to discuss any pertinent issues.
3. Hold hands and stick together
Join together with your teammates in the office for coffee or lunch. Form friendships — studies show workplace bonds can increase productivity and employee happiness. Maybe your boss woes were based in feeling isolated in the workplace, or maybe colleagues can help you understand how to manage a difficult boss.
4. Be kind
Negative behavior and attitudes from your boss do not excuse the same on your end. Be kind, and be hardworking. Don’t let a manager dictate your work mindset or how you conduct yourself, because you’re only going to drag yourself down.
5. Tell a grown-up
For bosses that go beyond just being difficult, document any persistent behavior you find offensive — or worse. Don’t be afraid to contact HR with anything you find troubling, because you may not be the only one.
Don’t just dismiss and ignore a bad boss; observe and try to understand where they're coming from. The more you pay attention to their behavior, the more understanding you can have. Even if you still don’t like your boss, you could learn to work civilly with them.
7. Stand up for yourself
Just because someone is your boss doesn’t mean they get to dictate everything about you. You have rights, and you should absolutely stand up for yourself if you feel a boss is crossing the line. People will stand by you.
8. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody
Have you contributed to the negative energy between you and your boss? Step up and accept responsibility in order to let bygones be bygones and move forward.
9. Treat others the way you want to be treated
Don’t let a bad boss sour your attitude about the whole company. Live by example, and treat your boss — as well as your colleagues — with appreciation and respect. You never know who might be paying attention to model their behavior.
10. Live a balanced life
Your boss is just one person. The workplace is just your job. If you live a balanced life where you can find happiness with friends, family, hobbies, volunteer work, and otherwise, you’re less likely to let one single human ruin your daily life.