What is a bully boss? Bully bosses are people who are very goal-oriented, get the job done, but leave a lot of human wreckage in their wake. We’ve all worked for them at one time or another. Or have had clients who fit the description. When you work for a bully boss, you notice that you have no personal life. Though it’s not written anywhere, the bully boss’s expectation is that you be on call 24/7. You personal boundaries erode to the point of becoming nonexistent and you live in a lot of fear, waiting for the other shoe to drop. If there is a conflict and you stand up to the bully boss, you usually find yourself trapped in a paradox. The bottom line is, you are destined to be wrong because he has to be right. The bully boss rarely listens to anyone with a different opinion and will gather support for his own opinion from those who are too afraid to do anything else but agree.
With the Presidential race ramping up, we have plenty of opportunity to witness this kind of behavior. Some have suggested that Donald Trump is a bully boss. Whether he is or not, we’re not going to weigh in on because we’re coaches, not political commentators. Besides, you can’t do anything about the behavior of Presidential candidates. But you do have some choices when it comes to your bully boss.
What most people do is complain about their bully boss and feel like a hopeless victim. And you’re probably waiting for us to tell you what to do about him or her. But we’re not going to do that, because you can’t change a bully boss. That’s part of their profile; they’re unchangeable and not usually capable of psychological insight. So we’re going to shift gears here and tell you what you can do. You can do something about you.
TIP #1: Back Pocket Coach strategy #25 asks: “What if I don’t have all the facts?” In the context in which this strategy was written, it refers to the importance of having all the facts about others and the situation at hand. For bully boss, we are suggesting a twist on the strategy, which is: “What if I don’t have all the facts about myself?” Such as, “why am I still in this job?” Well, maybe you’re working on a project that you’re passionate about. Or maybe you like the money. Or perhaps you’re the sole source of income for your family. Whatever the reasons, they are your reasons. And it’s important to get clear on these reasons. You are there by choice. You are a free agent and can come and go at will. Once you embrace this, you will discover that this is where your power lies.
As human beings, we need to know that we have choices -- no matter what our age or stage in life. And by making a conscious choice about staying in your job and working for a bully boss, or polishing up your resume to start exploring your options, you are operating from a place of personal power. When you make choices within this context, you won’t risk poisoning your nervous system with resentment. Because resentment comes from feeling like a victim who has no power. This anonymous quote says it beautifully: “Resentment is like you taking a poison pill and hoping the other person dies.”
TIP #2. Back Pocket Coach Strategy #33 says: “Shake it off!” The three components to this are: 1) don’t take things personally; 2) stay focused on the outcome; 3) remain flexible. All three are good advice when engaging with a bully boss. But not taking things personally is perhaps the most important. And if you’re dealing with a real bully boss, this is way more about him, than you.
TIP #3. Be impeccable with your work. Don’t give your bully boss a reason to find fault with your work product. This ties into not taking things personally, because when you are impeccable in your words and in your deeds, there will be nothing for you to take personally.
Please share your thoughts about your experience with a bully boss and what you did to stay afloat and fulfill your goals and purpose. We’d love to hear from you!