Chances are you've worked with one or know someone who has.
They can be vicious and vindictive, erratic and unorthodox, scatterbrained and dysfunctional.
Insane bosses can drive their workers crazy.
“I’ve had a number of patients where working for difficult employers is at least part of the overall stress in their lives,” said Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor.
But there are ways to handle bad bosses.
Ablow offers five ways to stay sane when your boss isn't:
1.) Do some soul-searching. Maybe the problem is you. It’s easy to blame the source of your stress on your employer, but sometimes the problem lies within.
“I tell my patients to do a lot of soul-searching to make sure the boss or the situation at work isn’t replicating or dredging up old feelings that come from another place or another person,” Ablow said.
For example, if you’ve had more than one job where you’ve felt as though your boss has had unreasonable expectations, maybe the feelings are coming from someplace else.
“With one of my patients, we traced it back to home and unreasonable expectations of parents,” Ablow said. “So you have to make sure you’re really talking about a person who objects to a real situation at work and not something deeper.”
2.) Communicate better. Regardless of whether the stressful situation is real or transference from another part of your life, you will have to learn to manage your interactions with your boss.
Ablow suggests better communication.
“It’s OK if one needs to tell their boss, “I would love to have this project all reworked by tomorrow and I will make every attempt to do that, but this might be an unreasonable task given that we spent three weeks working on the first draft,’” he said.
Also try to learn from your boss.
“This is the person that is running the company and there’s a reason for that,” Ablow said. “It’s easy to get into the trap of discounting the talents of your boss because of the turmoil a difficult boss can create. But, very often, there’s a good reason for them to be in the chair he or she occupies.”
3.) Compartmentalize the relationship. Acknowledging and expecting a difficult relationship with your boss can actually be helpful, Ablow said.
“It’s OK to know that: 1. a difficult interaction will occur, 2. you’re not in a position to effectively change it, 3. it’s not your job to be your boss’ therapist, and 4. to set up boundaries so that you’re not dragged into your employer’s bad habits and unreasonable expectations,” he said.
Ablow suggested talking with other employees to gauge how they handle difficult interactions with the boss.
“When asking about the best way to handle it when she changes everything at the last minute, someone might tell you that she doesn’t really expect you to turn it around as quickly as she’s communicating and if you’re staying up all night to do that, don’t.”
4.) Talk to your boss. It’s often OK to let your boss know the conditions that help you work optimally, Ablow said.
“Say something like, ‘If I can get a little more notice next time, I know I’ll be able to get 200 percent more work done,’” he said. “Or something like, ‘I know how disappointing it is when projects don’t come through, but, when you yell at me, it makes it harder to get everything I need done, which is what I want to do.’”
5.) Know when it’s time to talk to someone else or to move on. When worse comes to worst, you may want to speak with your boss’ supervisor or someone in human resources.
“If it is truly an employer who is being a completely unreasonable and damaging person, you may want to raise it with the human resources department, but that can be fraught with political issues,” Ablow said, adding that in some cases an employee may want to just move on.
“Not every environment is for everyone,” he said. “It’s a tough environment right now to switch jobs, but you can't be in an environment that makes you feel unhappy, unfulfilled, unrealized and holding on with your fingernails. That’s why it’s always important to make sure, like with a marriage, that you’re really right for the job before taking it.”