Sorry, worker bee. Mean bosses are a fact of life. You’d be hard-pressed to find an office or organization completely free of soul-crushers and tyrants in charge.
You know the toxic type. The vindictive, belittling Miranda Priestlys and Michael Scotts of the world. Controlling micromanagers who are rude, inconsiderate and practically impossible to work with and for, no matter how much you grit your teeth and follow their orders.
While bosses do get to boss you around in some respects -- after all, they are your superiors on the org chart -- Deepak Chopra says they don’t get to pull rank in a manner that is offensive or abusive. He told Entrepreneur during a recent phone interview that if this happens to you or a colleague, you’re well within your rights to put your higher ups in check, “calmly and professionally.”
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We asked the renowned spiritual advisor, medical doctor and entrepreneur for tips on how to deal with toxic bosses while talking with him about his new Wevr virtual reality (VR) meditation experience.
Here’s his step-by-step advice, lightly edited for clarity and length:
1. Set up a meeting to hash things out.
“Victims of toxic leaders must practice what is called nonviolent communication. This means you request a sit-down meeting at the office with the person you are experiencing conflict with to work things out peacefully and respectfully.”
2. Demand respect.
“You tell them, ‘This is my observation of your behavior. This is how you make me feel. I don’t want to feel like this, so may I please request that you treat me with respect, politeness, courtesy and deference, or, at the very least, good manners. And, if you do that, I will reciprocate and if you don’t, I will ignore you, which will not be a good experience for you.’
“If things get worse after you express your feelings, then this is not the right job for you. For a lot of people this type of talk will shift their behavior for the better, but if it doesn’t, this job is going to be toxic for you and you’re going to feel sick staying in that environment.”
3. Advocate for positive change.
“People who compliment you genuinely about your strengths actually have a great effect on your well-being and also on your productivity. So, you may want to mention that the ideal situation in an office would be having a team where people have a shared vision, where they are emotionally bonded and where they compliment each other’s strengths.
“The organizations that I work with, I advise them to put energy into creating a good, healthy work culture, rather than ending up with human resources cases and lawsuits. Start healthy and you’ll stay healthy.”