The time you spend thinking about how much you hate your boss or your supervisor or your team leader is time you’ll never get back. Whether you have a bad boss or a good boss or a boss somewhere in between, there are probably days your manager is going to make you scream. And if you can’t stand your boss, maybe screaming is the best solution.
All too often people tell me “I can’t stand my boss.” “My boss drives me crazy.” “My boss is so stupid.” And of course the oh so simple and yet every so popular “I hate my boss.” Hardly any of us doesn’t know the agony of working for a terrible boss who drives us nuts in one way or another. The very fact that you have to have a boss – a person in charge of YOU – is enough to annoy the best of us. Add to that a bad manager who is also incompetent or insensitive or a perfectionist or countless other boss qualities…well, this is enough to drive anyone nuts!
Sure it feels good to get together with other co-workers and just let the complaints fly. In fact, sometimes you find yourself rolling on the floor as people imitate the ogre or tell one good “my boss is stupid” story after another. Release feels good. So it must be a useful way of dealing with a bad boss, right?
Of course it feels great at times to vent your feelings about your stupid boss, rather than holding them in. I’m all for a good gripe session now and then if it puts you in touch with stuff that’s eating at you. But that said…what if every day you just bitch and moan about your boss or your job (whether to others or just to yourself)? Each and every day. Is that really getting it out, or just reinforcing your misery? What does all this time spent in anger toward your boss or your job actually do for YOU in the long run?
Truth be told…not much that wil help you like your job better.
As someone who early in my career was the queen of the complainers, I can tell you it’s a hard habit to break. But I can also tell you, it can be done and it’s well worth it.
A friend of mine recently wrote me about her new teaching job. She remembers from her last job where her co-workers would sit around on breaks and just gripe about everything – especially the annoying boss. It felt good at the time to get it out and it made people feel connected – after all, they hot to hate their boss together.
But what my friend realized was she wound up connected to other miserable people becasue of what she was doing and that became a large part of her experience. In fact it shaped how how she felt about the job and, as a result, it shaped how she performed in the job – only leading to more negative feedback. So instead, in this new job, to help her break the “I hate my boss” habit, she now brings a book to read or works on her writing on breaks. She says she’s happier than she’s ever been on a job.
As for bonding – she meets people to talk to one-on-one about things other than how awful the boss or work is. And if she needs to bitch and moan about something that happened, well that’s what friends and family are for. Less is more when it comes to complaining in the workplace! (By the way…speaking up and offering concrete suggestions or sultions to porblems is very different than being a complainer.)
Gripe sessions at work not only keep you immersed in the misery, but also leave you vulnerable to snitches who like to tell the boss what’s being said. In the end, you spend so much time talking about the misery, that it’s hard to then go back to the job and find a way to feel good about the job or yourself. Time spent focused on how bad everything is less time for you to make it better for yourself. And it’s certainly not the path to success.
And on top of that, if your work friendships are mostly about the agony, it makes it even harder for you to then become someone who enjoys what you’re doing. You box yourself into a misery circle that only reinforces the bad parts and does nothing to help you break out into a happier, healthier situation.
12 things you can do if you’re in the “I hate my boss club”
Rather than hating your boss or your job with so much intensity, take some of that energy and redirect it. A few possible ways to go:
- Look for things you and your boss have in common (even bosses you don’t like may have one or two things in common with you to help you shift the way you interact)
- Try to find things to talk to your boss about – a good start is things she or he is interested in, but you can progress to work things where your ideas can be heard
- Find something that needs doing and offer to take it on
- Come up with ways to improve the work process and maybe save the company money
- Make friends with positive people (and if possible those on your boss’s good side)
- Focus on the job and how to do it better
- Go above and beyond in your work – and make sure your boss finds out about it (the true benefit of good allies)
- Focus on what you have and not on those things you don’t have
- Start to project a more positive and competent attitude
- Check your the ‘tude at the door. You earn respect in each new situation; it’s not due you.
- Be the person who says “I can” and not “Can’t be done”
- If you see a problem, come with solutions (It’s ok to bring up things that bug you – but come with possible remedies, not just gripes.)
These are only a few suggestions you might try to help improve things. I’m sure there are many other things that also might help. You have little chance of ever changing your boss (unless she or he leaves), but you can indeed put effort into things that are in your own control – namely yourself and your attitude.
By the way…if you put all that effort into hating your boss, imagine how that affects how he feels about you. People can feel the hate. Conversely they can also feel sincere effort and respect. Which do you think is the smartest choice of action?
Boss hating is a waste of time and effort – seriously!
Sure it feels good in the moment. Sharing strong feelings like hating your boss or co-workers can give you a false sense of power – in the moment; but they actually leave you weakened in the workplace. And all that anger only comes back to kick you in the butt. I’ve seen it all too often!
The less time you spend thinking about how awful things are and the more time you spend kicking up your own contribution to the workplace (both in attitude and effort), the better things can become for you and everyone. Your attitude and work style affects not only yourself, but those around you. And it’s amazing how different things can feel when you’re actually doing well and getting good feedback.
Being positive does not automatically make you into a brown-nosed, goody-two-shoes…in case you were thinking that. It’s just a lot more fun to go to work with people who pitch in, support each other, and find a way to smile – even in the toughest situations. These are also the people who most often eventually move up and out, beyond the reach of even the most aggravating boss. Or they get promoted and become the boss!
Of course, there are some situations that are so awful there really isn’t much you can do but move on. But in most situations, there is at least one thing you can do to improve the way you feel about your boss or your job. I challenge you to find something and tell me about it.
And if the first try doesn’t work, please keep trying. You don’t change around your own reputation in one day, nor do you easily break old habits of fixating on a boss’s shortcomings. It all takes time. Be patient. Set some realistic goals. And good luck!
New Work Coach Cafe Policy:
Although I had to stop answering individual questions the way I used to (to preserve my sanity), as always your thoughts and stories are VERY welcome here.