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How to survive a boss from hell without losing your mind

I know you can’t believe it, but I watched The Devil Wears Prada’ for the first time last year. Go ahead and giggle all you want, that’s the truth.

I shed my first tear on the 7th minute, my second on the 8th and by 18th minute I was sobbing uncontrollably. The first 40 minutes described the misery of my existence for the past two years. However, the difference between Andy Sachs and I was that she worked for Miranda Priestly. A self-assured and confident fashion legend who was on top of her game and whose opinions were informed by years of experience and hard work. I, on the other hand, had a clueless, incompetent and opinionated boss who was on an ego-trip to nowhere. If you’ve had a boss from hell, then you know what am talking about.

A good boss can make a terrible job fantastic and a bad boss can create hell even in the heavenliest of jobs. You wanna know the character traits of bad bosses and how to deal with them? Grab a cup of coffee or whatever your favorite drink is and read on.

1. They are master manipulators

Most Nasty bosses fit the very definition of master manipulators. They persistently engage in conniving, calculating and cunning behavior towards employees without having qualms about it. They take advantage of the employees’ weaknesses and vulnerability. They tear into pieces the very people who contribute to the organizational success. They berate and belittle employees to poor performance and in the same breath, claim to be victims of incompetent teams.

2. They are control freaks

A miserable boss is usually a very insecure boss. His meanness is usually rooted in his very own fear of failure and insufficiency. He is constantly afraid that his underlings may outperform and outshine him and take away his thunder. To deal with his flaws he resorts to control and micromanagement. He always wants to keep tabs on his employees and control everything they do even if it means killing their creativity and multiplying their misery.

3. They use and thrive on fear

Fear is the go-to tool for bad bosses. They terrorize their employees to submission by ensuring that employees shudder at the mention of their names. They demand respect without earning it. You need to understand that these bosses are merely projecting their feelings of insecurity and low levels of self-esteem. They are captives of their own horror and imaginations and would love to share their captivity with you.

4. They confuse arrogance for confidence

Bad bosses are nothing but egomaniacs who are on a conceited and worthless self-importance voyage. They are defined by their titles and little corner offices. They display a false sense of confidence that is based on nothing but the nameplate on their doors. If you strip them of their titles, they will be in an identity crisis for the rest of their miserable lives.

 5. They are downright incompetent

No one embodies incompetence in the workplace more than a tyrannical boss. Some brag about their years of experience but left alone, they can neither comprehend simple work-related concepts and facts nor explain elementary ideas. They know their subordinates are their lifelines but would rather face a firing squad than admit it.

6. Divide and rule is their mantra and policy

Bad bosses are masters at pitting employees against each other. More often than not, they play favorites with certain employees, only to dump them once they have accomplished their mission. To them, employees are nothing but pawns who are manipulated to fight each other and consequently making them easier to dominate.

 7. They are Two faced

Bad bosses are master double-dealers who have perfected the art of being deceitful and insincere. The traits they display in front of their superiors and HR is totally different from what their subordinates know. No wonder organizations are full of incompetent and conniving managers who are unidentifiable by the senior management.

How do you deal and cope with a boss from hell?

Unless you intend to star in ID Channel’s ‘Criminals at Work’ docu-series for poisoning or cracking your boss’s skull, you must adapt to your toxic working environment –you’ve got bills to pay. You need to understand how your boss thinks and operates and get a way of living through his hell-raising without losing your sanity or compromising your values and integrity.

It is therefore important for you to:

1. Speak up- you need to recognize that as an employee you have a right to a conducive working and professional environment. So, if your boss is making it unbearable then you need to speak out. Your boss may have a fatter paycheck and more benefits than you but he is still an employee. Be cautious, but it will be helpful, talk to HR or his boss. What is the worst that can happen? You are already going through hell. Most nasty bosses are also bullies and the best way to beat a bully is to stand up for yourself and speak out. Establish boundaries beyond which your boss cannot go and make it known to him. 

2. Pay attention to your work- no matter what your boss does or says, don’t neglect your work. I know it’s easier said than done but try. People have a tendency of slacking off and delivering poor quality work when they are berated. Please, don’t be one of them. Focus on your work and give it your best. The boss may never appreciate, notice or give you credit but you will live with the satisfaction of a job well done.

 3. Take the higher road- the temptation to paint your boss in a bad light or spray paint his black Mercedes with yellow paint may be too big but resist it. Don’t take the eye for an eye approach or else you will end up blind, jobless and broke. When he goes low, rise above his crap and do the right thing. Let his crazy turn you into a better and not a bitter person.

 4. Build a workplace support system- if indeed your boss is nasty, then he will make all people around him miserable. Have a group of people at work who offer you a shoulder to lean on and can cheer you up and provide solutions when the going gets tough. Your family and friends may be supportive but colleagues know and understand what it feels to experience his craziness and drama daily.

 5. Perform a reality check- come to the startling realization that the only person you can change and have power over is yourself. Make peace with the fact that your boss may and will never change- probably even his own mama can’t fix him. Work on your attitude and aspire to create a heaven in your chaotic and crazy little world. You cannot change your boss or the organizational flaws but you can create a new reality for yourself.

 6. Look for another job- you deserve better than what you are currently getting. You may love to quit now, but you have responsibilities and bills to pay. Unless you want to be homeless or live in your mama’s basement, have a plan before you slam the door on your boss’s face. But whatever you do, don’t settle and adapt to the toxicity of an abusive work environment. Get busy and proactive and look for another job.

If you have a boss from hell, am truly sorry for you and I mean it. My advice to you is to fiercely protect your heart from the ravages of all his verbal and emotional tirades. And as the famous Desiderata says, “…be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life [and your crazy boss] keep peace with your soul. With all its sham and drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

About Jenny

I am a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother who believes in discovering the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life by allowing it to inspire me and holding onto the belief that God uses the ordinary to do extra ordinary things in the lives of others. I believe that i do not have to be in possession of a great talent for my life to be magical. I can move mountains and change the world I live in by embracing whatever I have with a grateful attitude and nurturing my mustard seed to an amazing tree of greatness. I believe that I can begin and nurture great relationships, I can do an incredible job in my workplace irrespective of my title, I can be a great homemaker and can manage the resources that God has given me as a great steward. I am a firm believer of the Proverbs 31 not as a God’s judgment yardstick but as a sign of God’s confidence in the feminine clan and his perception of the incredible power he has given women. Yes I believe that ‘feminity’ is fascinating and God’s best gift to women.

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