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Ask A Career Coach - 13 Tips & Tricks to Deal with Your Scary Boss

1Halloween is a holiday of tricks and scares. Ghosts, ghouls and zombies come out from the woodwork and reign terror on innocent, unsuspecting people. However, as an employee in the workplace, sometimes the scariest part about Halloween – or any other day - can be your boss. 

We all have had experiences with great leadership, as well as bosses that were a little more challenging to work with. Learning how to effectively work with your boss will make all the difference and greatly improve your career satisfaction.

Here are 13 tips to help you deal with your scary boss:

1) Open up the lines of communications: The cornerstone to any relationship is communication. The same goes for your working relationships. Create an open conversation about communication styles and how you all work best. It will help leadership understand how you can be most effective in the workplace, trust that you know what needs to be done and know you will be able to accomplish the tasks at hand.

2) Understand your boss’s hot buttons: Know what makes him tick. Whether you sit down and have a conversation about it or learn as you go, make a point to understand what your boss’s pet peeves are and what makes him upset so that you can avoid any unnecessary tension. It will make your life at work much easier.

3) Understand your boss’s expectations: As part of maintaining a platform of open communication, have discussions about what he or she expects from you. This can be in regards to a specific project you are working on or just general working practices for the office.

4) Anticipate their needs/questions: This can be difficult if you have not been at your company for an extended amount of time and do not know your boss very well. If that’s the case, overcompensate. Include as much detail as possible, and eventually, you will be able to understand his or her needs.

5) Never catch your boss off guard: Always keep them informed about what you’re working on, any updates on projects or news they need to be aware of. There is nothing more humiliating for him and more detrimental for you than if your boss is caught off guard during a meeting or presentation. Make sure they are always informed.

6) Try not to take everything too personally: We often take our frustrations out on the people closest to us. For a boss, that often includes his employees. He or she might be under a lot of stress and unfortunately will take it out on you. Understand that it sometimes may just be him expressing frustration at a situation and not necessarily something that you did wrong.

7) Set boundaries early on: Your boss needs to understand and respect your personal life. She might be one of those people who wants to call you at 6:30 every morning or at 9:00 at night to get an update or check in with you. If this does not work for you, have a conversation with your boss and suggest a set of boundaries that both of you can live by. It helps set expectations and a routine for both of you.

8) Clarify prioritization: Establish a priority ranking on tasks, especially if your boss is overloading you with work. Your boss might say that they are all equally important, but everything can’t be number one on the list. Urge him to decide what he needs first and what he can wait on.

9) Don’t necessarily try to stay out of his way: This can be counterproductive to creating a successful working relationship. Relationships are a two-way street, so it is important to realize that you also need to put in effort. It’s not all about your boss changing the way he manages his employees; it’s about you understanding how to work with your boss as well.

10) Facilitate some sort of friendly gesture: Keep a bowl of candy by your desk, bring in home-baked goods or remember to wish your boss a happy birthday. Although Michael Corleone says in The Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s business," but sometimes it is personal. Your boss is still a human being who appreciates kind gestures.

11) Take a few deep breathes: If you find yourself getting worked up about something your boss says or does, just stop and take a few simple, deep breathes. A little meditation and settling the mind will keep the blood pressure down and the chance of an emotional blowup to a minimum.

12) Stay positive: Positivity goes a long way. Try not to become one of the whiners or complainers of the office – it will get you nowhere and won’t help the situation. Keep your head up and attitude in check.

13) And if all else fails, run for the door as fast as you can! Or call a career coach for help.