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Difficult Boss? 3 Keys to Communication When They Don’t Understand

Do you have a hard time communicating with your boss or supervisor? Having a difficult boss is a reality for many professionals and can be extremely stressful for those in a job they hate. Dealing with others who have a lack of concern, offer poor instruction, are hostile or manipulative can weigh you down. If you dread meeting with, calling, or emailing your boss think about how this affects your energy and work output. It can feel draining and limit your growth within a company.

Prior to starting my own business, I had my fair share of difficult bosses, unstable managers, and one toxic work environment. Many of my clients have also had similar experiences so know that you are not alone. Working with a career coach can help you navigate office politics, deal with a difficult boss, and thrive in your position. It’s possible to still get a promotion, learn new skills, and maximize your role even if your manager is less than effective. Here are 3 keys to communication when they don’t understand!

Prepare Yourself – Having a clear idea what you want to say or accomplish can go a long way when dealing with a difficult boss. It can help reduce your stress level by eliminating some uncertainty. If you are planning to have an important conversation with your manager, try making a list of the key points you want to say prior to speaking with them. You could take it a step further and script out exactly what you want to say at certain points in the discussion. I’ve worked with clients to rehearse asking for a raise, inquiring about promotions, and just putting their thoughts out on the table with others.

Respond Don’t React – It’s vital that you stay calm during exchanges with your superiors. Most situations are not worth jeopardizing your reputation or position. Take a few deep breaths before meeting with a hard to deal with person and don’t attempt a conversation when you are emotional. There are some people who thrive on manipulating others, so make note of your energy prior to engaging with someone like that. The goal is to respond to what is being said, not to have an emotional reaction to it. When working with those who are hard to get along with mentally remind yourself what your goal is, so you can address that before ending the discussion.

Listen Actively – Your difficult boss might have a point to what they are saying, even if their delivery, intention, or style is off-putting. You are in a career to learn and develop for your next opportunity, so keep an open mind. At the same time you don’t have to accept what your manager is telling you about yourself if it is hurtful or untrue. If you listen actively and there is a major disconnect between what they are saying and what you think, it could be time to consider finding another position or environment. You can be cordial while having a difference of opinion. Take in information to know where they are coming from so that you can address it.

Communication is really about you and how you choose to receive information. No one else to make you uncomfortable or hurt your feelings with out you making the choice to buy-in to what they are saying. I understand how hard this can be when you have a difficult boss. Focus on preparing yourself before the conversation, responding not reacting, and actively listening to your boss during a discussion. How would doing this change your communication with others who are hard to deal with?