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Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders.

You’re a GREAT boss, but YOUR boss? Not so much.

Oh boy! It’s not always about BEING the boss or how to be a better boss in our Monday Moment. This week it’s about how to handle YOUR boss, particularly if they are that “difficult person” with which you struggle. How might you make your difficult boss (or any difficult boss, for that matter!) disappear? Vanish? Go away? Well, the answers may be different than you think, but they may also remind you that you have far more control over who you surround yourself with than you may remember.

1. Quit

Yep, you knew I was going to go there. Admit it. People tell me repeatedly they have no choice in the matter, right after they’ve spent 20 minutes sharing all the awful things their boss does or says, and some of them are truly bad bosses. In ALL cases, you have a choice. We choose to stay employed or continue to report to a person that provokes our complaints or is the source of our difficulty. For whatever the reasons (benefits, pay, proximity to work, don’t want to look for a new job, don’t think we can find one) you stay, you lose the right to complain about your boss if you’re unwilling to do anything to get a new one. Besides, when you quit, that difficult boss does disappear. Just be careful as the grass is not always greener.

2. Shift Your Focus

Okay, okay, so busted again. No “uncle guido”. No magic wand in this method. But, a bit of practical advice. If you feel you cannot quit, wish to become a better leader, and are dealing with a difficult boss, pay attention to what you pay attention to. Neuroscience tells us that where we place our focus, follows us around. What you are fixated on and have deemed important, your brain will seek out data and evidence to support your findings. In other words, if you decide your boss is difficult and fuel that belief with much emotion, your brain says, figuratively of course, “Okay, get it. Let me validate that by proving you right.” If you focus on even the tiniest of good things and give those energy and emotion, the same will occur. Now, go out there and get excited about something good, even if it’s only that one day even if, in the far distant future, your boss will eventually retire or tire of making your life tough. You just have to outlast him or her.

3. Be Realistic

In a corporate hierarchy, the reality is that a boss has a sizable amount of power. You may not like what they DO with that power, but the reality is that you report to him or her AND you don’t have to LIKE him or her to do your job. That does not excuse true bullying or bossy behavior, which is a different issue. It does address the fact that your boss may have high standards. He may have lofty expectations or forget to tell you what his expectations are and still hold you to them. She may not be the friendliest bulb in the box. He may not seem to care about you or what you do outside of work. Okay. So look at what you can live with and look at a bigger picture. Is it the end of the world that your boss is not someone you would ever call your best friend, or is it something you tolerate in exchange for a great paycheck and the company of other people who require less toleration?

Yep, I know. None of these give you the magic answer to physically and literally making a difficult boss person disappear from your office. However, they do help you survive what may feel like an unbearable workplace. Difficult people don’t label themselves as such by themselves. Thus, part of the magic is in watching your part in this two person equation and finding creative ways to truly Make Difficult People Disappear.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!


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