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Office politics
Defend yourself against a mean boss

10/08/15
By Allie Ginwala aginwala@hippopress.com



 Controlling, inconsiderate and condescending — for those with a challenging workplace, these characteristics are all too familiar.

Jane Bogursky, a licensed independent clinical social worker based in Bedford, recommends setting a boundary with negative coworkers to help keep the negativity from impacting you. However, sometimes the negativity is coming from a person you must engage with — like a manager or higher-up. If that’s the situation you’re in, check out Bogursky’s suggestions for managing yourself and dealing with a mean boss.
View them in a new light. Try interacting with your boss like you would a challenging customer or client, Bogursky said. Viewing them as someone you want to please could help you stay a step ahead.
Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand why your boss acts the way he does. “It could it be that their superiors are putting a ton of pressure on them … their reputation is at stake,” Bogursky said. “I think that can be very insightful and allow you to step back and empathize.” 
Focus on the bigger picture. “Many people may use the boss’s behavior as an excuse to lower their standard, and I think if you look to the future … you can stand up and stand out,” she said. Treat it like a learning experience, perhaps to reference in a future job interview.
Don’t bottle up. Working with a mean boss every day can be draining and also leak into other areas of your life. Don’t keep it all inside — talk to your spouse, friend or therapist about it. “I think it’s very important because [otherwise] you're just stuck with your thoughts and things are swirling around in your brain,” Bogursky said. “Connect with people because lots of people live through this or have lived through this.” 
Documentation is key. Writing down tough interactions can come in handy, Bogursky said, to bring up during an exit interview or if you need to file a grievance with the company’s HR department. “And it can be therapeutic,” she said.
Stand your ground. Don’t let your boss bully you or get in your head. “[Use] strategies to make yourself feel better in terms of positive internal [dialogue, like] ‘this is not going to be forever, I can get through this,’” Bogursky said.
Have a backup plan. Keep an eye on other job openings. Bogursky said always having a backup plan can help you feel like you aren’t stuck in a bad situation and can get out if things get too hard.
Take care of yourself. Eating well, exercising regularly, being with friends and maintaining a hobby all help balance work stress. And it gives you something to look forward to at the end of the day.
Know when to leave. If your job is impacting your daily life — like loss of sleep or appetite, trouble getting out of bed in the morning or isolating yourself — it’s time to contact HR. “If your superior [is] truly a bully, threatening or harassing or any of that type of situation I would say document and report,” she said. “It’s not uncommon to switch careers and sometimes a very challenging situation can turn out to be one of the most positive things in your life.” 





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