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  • Writer's pictureDrDavanaPilczuk

Tell Your Boss Where to GO

It’s the dream we all dream. No, it’s not your wedding day or that tropical beach vacation. It’s the simple, gratifying thought we all have wished for: the moment we tell our boss just what we really think of him or her. Just take a second to soak up that thought. Ah, glorious.

So why do we feel so happy to think of something, well, so mean? We derive great pleasure imagining this conversation, and how it would play out, mostly because we have chosen to remain silent all those times our boss crossed the line.

Think about it. Recall a time he or she annoyed you, even in the slightest. What did you do or say? Probably nothing. The boss went about behaving in a manner you didn’t like, but you said nothing. Another time he lost his cool and yelled at you, and you probably did very little to address his behavior. She dismissed your ideas, took credit for your work or told a less than colorful joke, and again, chances are, you did little to nothing. Now after all this time, her behavior has struck your last nerve and you’re ready for blood.

Set boundaries

When you find yourself saying “woe is me” and then venting about your horrible, terrible boss, take a minute and remember this next sentence: We teach people how to treat us. And that means despite your terrible, horrible boss’ behavior, you have some accountability for allowing that person to behave in a manner that’s not OK with you.

I had a friend tell me her new boss, a former military officer, often comes into her office, cusses at her, rolls his eyes at her, then walks away. “Can you believe that! He’s awful! I’m so upset that I end up crying when he walks out,” she said. I replied with, “Does your husband speak to you this way?” She laughed and said, “Oh, God no! He knows better than that!”

If your boss or anyone you work with is behaving badly, that’s on them. But it’s on you to decide if you’re willing to allow it. We all have boundaries that, when crossed, upset us. But these boundary lines are invisible, unless you let others know what and where they are. It isn’t fully fair to blame someone else for crossing your line, when you never made the line visible to them.

The best way to avoid ever having to tell your boss off is to address things as they come. For instance, if she dismisses your idea in a meeting, request a follow-up meeting. Let her know how her dismissal made you feel and offer some suggestions on how to interact when you aren’t aligned in your thinking. If she cusses or pitches a fit, approach her when she’s no longer upset and explain how her outbursts are affecting the team.

*Coming up - This is part one of a two-part series on how to talk to your boss. The next installment will address how to have those difficult conversations you are avoiding.*

Have courage

Does this sound crazy and completely uncomfortable? Well, that’s because people rarely do it. We would rather tell HR and have them handle it, but that’s a lot like running to mom when our sister annoys us. Save HR for the big stuff.

As much as we hope that our bad bosses will get canned, chances are they won’t. Why? Three simple reasons: they most likely don’t behave this way toward the people above them, their bad behavior hasn’t been bad enough to get them in hot water, and they are still getting results for the company. This means they are left alone, allowed to be bad and wrecking your happiness.

If you are thinking about how, up to this point, you may have mildly been contributing to the boss’ bad behavior, good. It’s not too late to start to turn things around. But the hard part is that you have to start, actually, turning things around. Having difficult conversations takes courage and a much higher communication skill set, but you can do it. Your happiness and sanity need you to! May 6, 2018.

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