6 Practices to Transform Your Relationship With Your Boss

You’ve got a bad boss or at least you think you do.

No matter how hard you work or how above and beyond you go, your boss never seems to appreciate your efforts and performance.  Perhaps they miss critical meetings, give zero direction or even take credit for your work. Perhaps they fail to support you in the ways you need to grow and the only feedback they offer you is colored in criticism.

You’re tired. You’re resentful. You’re discouraged. You’re angry. You feel increasingly frustrated by the day and perhaps even to the point where you’re ready to throw in the towel and quit altogether.

Having a negative relationship with your boss impacts your work experience and your performance in a big way.  A toxic dynamic with your boss can make or break your work experience and ultimately ripple into other areas of your life in a negative way.

Yet…

There is hope for a better relationship with your boss and a more empowered you in the workplace!

Here are 6 powerful practices that, when implemented, can help to transform your relationship with your boss from one of resentment and hostility to one of compassion and collaboration.

#1 Give The Benefit Of The Doubt

Giving your boss the benefit of the doubt helps neutralize the situation, the emotional charge and dynamics between you and your boss.  Perhaps they have no idea how they are showing up for you, perhaps they are going through a hard time personally and are trying to cope, perhaps they themselves have had bad bosses in the past and simply don’t know another way to lead.

When you can take a step back, feel your emotions and let them go, and look at your boss through a more human and compassionate lens, you can begin to see the human within your boss in a whole new way.  

#2 Identify The Problem & #3 Own Your Part

It takes two to tango in any relationship; even one between you and your boss!

Identifying what is bothering you about your boss is critical and the more specific you can be the better.

What is making you feel ____ (fill in the blank) about your boss? Name it. Then ask yourself; what role do I play in this?  For example, if you feel overworked and resentful that you are working 50+ hours a week, you could ask yourself: Have I had a conversation with my boss about this? Have I established clear boundaries around my work schedule and honored them? Have I asked my boss for what I need?

Often times, we are in such a habit to blame our external circumstances and other people, that we don’t take the time to examine how our own actions have helped to create the negative dynamics we struggle with.

#4 Identify What You Need

After you’ve had a chance to identify the problem and own your part, it’s time to get clear on exactly what you need from your boss to make the situation better and a true win-win for you both. Again, the more specific the better.

What is it that is specifically bothering you about your boss? Are your needs not being met? If so, which needs? Why are those needs important to you and your work performance?

#5 Ask For What You Need

Once you have identified what you specifically need from your boss, it’s time to cultivate your courage and communicate your needs to them. Is it clearer direction, more trust in your skills, more guidance, more encouraging feedback?.  Be polite, be respectful and be clear about what you specifically need from your boss and how that will make you better at your job and help you to reach your goals.

The conversation doesn’t end there though :).

Since you now remember that it takes two to tango the next part of this conversation consists of you asking your boss what they need from you so they can do their job better and help meet your needs.  This shows integrity, maturity, commitment and an understanding that changing relational dynamics requires effort on both sides.

#6 Practice Makes Progress

Once you have owned your part, identified the ways that you’ve helped create a negative dynamic with your boss and discovered the needs your boss has… it’s time to put it all into practice. 

This could mean practice honoring your boundaries better so your boss can do the same, practice meeting the needs your boss communicated to you so they can better support you, practice seeing your boss through the lens of a human being just like you with challenges, struggles, and areas of growth and more. 

Ultimately your happiness is your responsibility.  We encourage you to try these practices for a few months and see what shifts happen between you and your boss.  If after three months, the issues and challenges are still prevalent, it might be time to speak to HR and see what other options you have.

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