Love Your Job but Hate Your Boss? Here's What To Do

If you've finally hit the jackpot but you're struggling to see eye to eye with your boss, it can seem like a cruel twist of fate—especially if you've been in the position for a while and now have a new manager.

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Getting a job that you love is no small feat. If you've finally hit the jackpot but you're struggling to see eye to eye with your boss, it can seem like a cruel twist of fate—especially if you've been in the position for a while and now have a new manager.

This is a common predicament. But should you give up and quit or stick around? I'll help you find the right answer for your personal situation, along with my top strategies.

Figure Out the Root Cause

First of all, you need to make sense of what you're going through. What is it about your boss that you can't stand? There's a big difference between working with a strong personality versus a literal sociopath versus an inexperienced professional.

However, the culprits are usually micromanagement or (on the other end of the spectrum) a lack of encouragement and attention. Does your boss constantly ask you for updates on tasks, or do they reject every suggestion you make and fail to offer any support?

There could also be a lack of trust or a breakdown in communication and understanding. Is it hard to put a finger on exactly what's wrong between the two of you, yet they always seem to misinterpret what you say or have a problem with your work?

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Emotional intelligence is key to succeeding in the corporate world, especially as a leader. And a big part of your EQ comes down to empathy. Can you understand the behavior, motivations and thought processes of the people around you and reach accurate conclusions?

It might not be what you want to do, but you need to approach the situation of disliking your boss—even if you're convinced you're not in the wrong. In fact, this exercise has nothing to do with one person being "wrong" and the other being "right."

Think back to a few specific examples of interactions you had with your boss that left you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth. What did they say or do to leave you feeling like that?

Then, try to figure out what might have made them act in that way. You might feel like it was a personal attack on you or an unchangeable part of their personality—but is that really the story?

Some alternative possibilities are:

  • They're new to the company and struggling with impostor syndrome
  • They're experiencing problems with their personal life or health
  • They're anxious about their role
  • They're operating in a way that worked for their previous team

And is there any way you could be feeding into the dynamic or reacting in an unhelpful way? For instance, you could be rejecting their instructions and suggestions in retaliation for them ignoring you. That leads to my next point: how you can respond productively.

Strike up a Conversation

Even if you haven't been able to guess why your boss is acting as they do, you can hopefully now appreciate that they have a motive other than a dislike for you. So, how should you react as a mature adult and competent professional? By starting an open, honest dialogue to get on the same page.

In Western culture, it might feel alien to go up to someone and tell them directly that we have a problem with their behavior or actions.

But what do we do instead? Often, we go up to a bunch of other people to share our grievances about our boss, hoping for—realistically—affirmation about how we feel. This is a great way to start the rumor mill, and not such a good way to solve the initial problem.

Having a discussion is non-negotiable, but you need to check yourself to ensure you don't fall into some common traps that can derail the conversation. Mel Robbins recommends the following four tactics to have difficult conversations:

  1. Acknowledge some responsibility in the situation to put the other person at ease
  2. Outline the goal at the start so you can both remember why the conversation is worth it
  3. Listen to what the other person says and validate it
  4. Restate the outcome a few times whenever you feel yourself being derailed

Another powerful technique is to focus on how your boss is making you feel rather than accusing them of doing things with ill intent. For example, instead of saying that a boss is harsh and hot-headed, you could simply say that a confrontational approach makes you feel attacked.

What Next?

In an ideal world, the first conversation would be enough to resolve everything, and you'd all live happily ever after. Hopefully, that's exactly what your experience will be.

Sometimes, you might find that the first conversation takes you closer to a place of mutual understanding, but you require further chats to truly build a healthy relationship.

Or, in other cases, you might find that the conversation was a complete disaster. If that's the case and you haven't been able to ascertain any ways to establish a good line of communication, leaving the job may be your only or best option. But at least you'll be leaving knowing that you tried everything you could (and learned something about having difficult conversations along the way).

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to dealing with a difficult job situation. In some cases, it may really be necessary to leave—but don't throw away a job you love until you've checked yourself and done your best to iron out any potential misunderstandings.

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