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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Kent


We have all said it - “my boss is impossible to deal with!” We have all thought it - “this job would be great if I had a different boss”. Some of us try really hard to get the boss to behave differently so they won’t be so difficult. Many of us have even switched teams, departments and jobs to get away from a difficult boss when they don’t change.

But here is the bad news: There will always be a difficult person you need to interact with, no matter where you go. And let’s be honest, that isn’t only within the confines of our jobs.

And even worse: it is not possible to change the humans if they don’t want to change. Even when it is for their own good. Believe me, I have spent a lifetime trying!

So we are in a Catch 22 situation: We will only be happy if they change but we can’t get them to change.

This way of thinking makes us victims of the people around us, and we allow this to color how we feel about our whole job. Once you hate your unchanging boss and consequently, your job, you are driven to either keep changing jobs or accept being miserable.

But there is a way to get out of this negative cycle.

If they are not going to change at your request, the ONLY choice left is for you to change how you think about them. Not for their sake, but for yours.

Consider this, your boss, like all of us, is just being who they have always been. Their behavior has evolved over a lifetime that has been learned from their experiences. But because how they act is different from our expectations or desires, we then think of them as difficult (or crazy, or inept, or mean).

If you continue to think they are difficult you will continue to find evidence for that and you will intensify your dissatisfaction with them. Not constructive at all - right?

So try this instead:

1. Ask yourself, what are three other ways I can interpret a specific action so that they don’t add evidence to the idea that your boss is difficult? Get creative - you KNOW there are other ways to think about it, so don’t stop at “I don’t know”.

By looking at a specific action rather than the person as a whole, we can be more open to other interpretations. You can even think that your boss is difficult, but THIS ACTION may be okay if I think about it in a different way.

Pretty soon we realize that your BOSS isn’t difficult - you have just been interpreting all of his/her/their actions in a way that feeds that belief. And you actually have the option of seeing it another way. Do that enough, and voila, your boss doesn’t seem that difficult anymore!

Your boss didn’t change, but you changed how you think about them. That is where all the power is!

2. Evaluate how YOU act in your relationship. If you think of your boss as your enemy and not your supporter, are YOU transparent? Do YOU ask them why they chose a particular action? Are YOU open to trying to think about things from their perspective, from how it affects their agenda? Are YOU trying to find ways to support them?

For example: Does your boss want everything in writing, but you think this is a waste of time, so you ask other people for things that would be better coming from your boss? Have you considered that your boss might be overwhelmed and having a paper trail prevents things from falling through the cracks? If that might be true, did you ask them if they feel super busy or why it is so important to them to have something in writing? Did you offer to help?

You would be surprised how much a relationship can be changed even when only one person changes their thoughts and actions.

3. Accept that this is the way this person is, and stop trying to change them. And stop trying to hate them and/or avoid them. Open up some brain space to consider what other options are open to you in dealing with your "difficult" boss.

What are 3 ways you can get what you need from your boss in a way that works for both of you?

For example, in the situation above, if your boss wants everything in writing but you think it's a waste of time, can you send them a quick audio message, or video message instead?

This work is, dare I say, difficult, but is incredibly valuable. The more we resist dealing with frustrating bosses, the less likely we are to adapt and learn new skills for managing different personalities and perspectives.

And if we know how to deal with difficult, crazy, inept people, then our jobs don’t have to be upended because we hate our boss (or anyone else at work)!

If you need any assistance trying to implement any of my suggestions, email me at for a free 45 min consultation.

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