Can't stand your boss? You're not alone. God, you should meet my editors! I'll bet you've got it easy. Just kidding. I know what it's like to have a bad boss for real. There was a time when I worked for one of the biggest assholes in the country - no foolin'. She made my life hell for a year, and when I asked her out to lunch, thinking maybe we could resolve the situation and have a nice heart-to-heart, she decided instead to make it into a business meeting and asked her partner and our superior to meet us in the company boardroom.
She arrived clipboard in hand, ready to take notes, and I quit right on the spot. I even sent her a friendly farewell e-mail in an attempt to heal hard feelings but never heard a word back from her. Sometimes you just can't bridge that gap. You can't always quit, though (I couldn't really afford it when I did), and sometimes you just have to suck up ill treatment, which can be hell on the nerves as well as the ego.
What the experts say
"More than likely you're making it more awful than it is, distorting your perspective, making the boss worse than he or she is. Talk with a friend to get clearer. Your boss may remind you of someone from your past about whom you still have unresolved issues. One thing you should not do is share all these feelings with your boss, though confronting at some point can help. It's a good idea to practise. Do a dry run. Yes, the boss is probably a jerk, but a lot of your perceptions are your own. As soon as we assign authority and power to someone, we're going to be in a lesser position. We've given them a lot of that power. We have to figure out how to negotiate from that position and get the boss off that pedestal."
KEN SULLIVAN , life coach, Toronto
"In Buddhism there is no difference between subject and object or between your boss and yourself. If you see that what you are reacting to is your own reactions, then you see that the problem isn't out there but in you, and you have to deal with that. Of course, there are horrible situations like sexual harassment that nobody should put up with, but for most people it isn't that. I take things at face value . If somebody is saying one thing but implying something else, even if I know that I don't worry about it. I just take what they say. And I don't worry about who's higher and who's lower . If somebody says, 'Go make some coffee,' I'll go make coffee. It doesn't matter if I'm treated the way I think I ought to be treated or not, because the way I ought to be treated is just something I'm thinking."
BRAD WARNER , Zen Buddhist master, author, Hardcore Zen, Los Angeles
" Use internal humour in situations you can't change. You might see the situation as if it were a scene from your favourite sitcom or The Simpsons. If your boss is asking the impossible, you might think, "Yes! Of course I can do it! I am super-employee! Here to defend justice and feed my family!" I knew a woman who said her boss micro-managed her to death, but when she talked to her she found out her boss was the oldest of 12 children and had to take care of all her siblings. The employee learned her boss was mothering her, and this understanding made the boss easier to deal with. It's mostly your way of viewing things that causes problems."
JEFF JUSTICE , corporate humourist, author, Laugh More, Stress Less, Atlanta, Georgia
"If your boss is really a bad boss, someone who is receiving some undeserved gain from misconduct in the workplace, that's a boss who is not manageable, and you need to begin making exit strategies . You can't manage a manager who wants to dominate you, doesn't like you or wants to get away with something inappropriate. You need to separate yourself from that person. Your boss's misbehaviour can spill over onto you. If you decide to stay, you'll have tremendous stress. Cope by finding interests outside of work. If you have a boss you can talk to, always tie anything you talk about to business results. Say 'When I am distressed I am not able to focus on my work. '"
MARYLIN HAIGHT , Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Boss?, Peoria, Arizona
"To keep negativity at bay while the boss is at work, make this protection talisman and keep it on your desktop. Use a tumbled quartz crystal and sage smudge or sandalwood incense . Cast this spell when the moon is waxing: Bathe the crystal in the smudge smoke. Fully extinguish the smudge. Hold the stone in your power hand and face your altar. Fill your mind with a bright white light, edged in cobalt blue. Put that light into the stone. Say, 'Stone of protection, crystal stone of power, whisperers of the night, I pray you, may the road rise up to meet me, may the wind be always at my back, may the sun shine warm on my face, may the rain fall soft upon my home, may God and Goddess bless and protect me, as I will it, so shall it be!' Put your talisman on your desk."
SIRONA KNIGHT , author, The Wiccan Spell Kit, California