personal power

Got a bully boss? 3 tips to help you.

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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!

Reclaim your power now.

Business woman flexing her muscles to show power, isolated on white background Power is an emotion-evoking word. We might admire or fear power, depending upon the context. We hope to have power for what matters — to influence others and to make an impact. That said, power takes on many forms.

The idea of giving away our power — especially unwittingly — is not a welcome thought. Yet no matter how seasoned or accomplished we may be, we all have the ability to get triggered into giving our power away at some time or another.

Some ways we give up our power:

  • Your boss or supervisor goes on the offensive and you get intimidated and just shut down.
  • You are given more than you can manage in the time allotted and you did not negotiate — now all you can do is complain.
  • A colleague is not carrying his weight on a project and it’s putting stress on you. You don’t know how to talk to him, so you don’t. You end up working harder and resenting it.

The common denominator in these scenarios is that you’re out of dialogue. (One-way conversations are not dialogue.) Being in dialogue is empowering for everyone. So how do you get back into dialogue?

The kind of power we’re talking about here only manifests in two-way communication.

When you’re in dialogue, you’re in power.

The following two strategies will help you get and stay in dialogue:

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #4: Help me understand...

You think you understand someone and later find you misinterpreted! “Help me understand” is a way of making sure you are both on the same page. It can also help you remain calm, rather than be hijacked by an emotional reaction. For example: “Help me understand the purpose behind this process.” “Help me understand” also lets the person know you value what he says.

Back Pocket Coach Strategy #12: What expectations do you have of me?

Whether we realize it or not, we all bring different expectations to the table. Instead of assuming you are both on the same page regarding, for example, who’s going to do what by when, clarify! By asking this simple question, you are implicitly conveying your commitment and interest in being aligned with what needs to be done.

We would all ideally like to respond with strategies like these in the perfect moment. But sometimes you miss the perfect moment. If this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, schedule a revisit of the conversation with your supervisor, colleague, client or others, using one of the above strategies. Doing so speaks to your strength and actually gives you the ability to fortify the relationship because it shows that you cared enough to think about it.

As one of our colleagues so aptly put it, “Relationships are built one conversation at a time.” Now that’s powerful.

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