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How to Deal with an Abusive Employer or Boss
« on: September 04, 2007, 05:53:13 AM »
By Steve Tobak
CNet News.com

Step 1: Understanding
Understanding what makes these people the way they are is important. The one thing abusive, dysfunctional managers seem to have in common is that they're acting out on you because of their own issues that have absolutely nothing to do with you.

That knowledge may help you sleep better at night, but it's more important that you develop some empathy for the poor bastard and gain some perspective. Remember that he's human and has faults, just like everyone else. Moreover, you just work for him. You can quit. He has to live with himself every day for the rest of his life.

Step 2: Strategy
There's an old Japanese proverb: If you wait by the river long enough, you'll see the body of your enemy float by. One way of handling an abusive boss is to wait her out. On the other hand, "long enough" can be a mighty long time. While you're waiting by the river, you should use what you learned in step 1 to gain some perspective.

If you harbor negative feelings toward your boss, they'll surely leak out from time to time. You may not notice, but others will and so will she. Try to curb those feelings. Don't go over her head and don't go toe to toe with her. If you do, you may win the battle, but you'll surely lose the war.

Instead, find a way to respect your boss for what she does well and use your strengths to complement her weaknesses. Whether she's willing to admit it or not, she needs you or you wouldn't be there.

Step 3: Practice
Next time your boss pisses you off, just remember that it's not your fault; he's only human; he has some strengths or he wouldn't be your boss; and he needs you to help him out or you wouldn't be there. Lastly, you can always quit, but he still has to live with himself. And that's probably why he's abusive to begin with.

It's hard at first, but with practice, it gets easier and eventually becomes second nature. Using this method, I survived an abusive CEO for two years until the board canned him. It really works. I'm also relatively sure that employees have used a similar process on me. That's right, I'm a reformed abusive boss.

If the process fails for some reason, remember that karma will surely catch up with your abusive manager and reincarnate him or her as a dung beetle.

If you end up losing the war and getting terminated, be sure to remember my favorite parting line, "I've been fired by better people."



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