To get right to the information that I think will help you most, I’d like to recommend 2 core strategies for effectively managing your relationship with the boss you described in your question. These strategies have proven very helpful and practical with many private-practice clients I’ve worked with. They include:
1. Mastering the relaxation response
2. Communicating protectively
Working with a difficult boss can be incredibly stressful. This can cause you to underperform, miss work and even compromise your employment with the company. One of the most important skills at the root of effectively working with a “toxic-boss” is learning to self-invoke the relaxation response during otherwise stressful encounters.
When we get stressed we can’t think and problem solve effectively. We can also send negative behavioral and emotional signals that trigger the employer’s negative treatment of us.
Science show that the more stressed, anxious and even angry we get the more our intelligence or IQ drops in proportion. Learning to relax in these situations will help you stay smart and effective. The benefits of relaxation response training will spill over positively into every area of your life!
Here is one of the best free online resources I have found for learning how to relax in tense situations. With a months practice, you can learn to self-invoke the relaxation response in just a few seconds. It’s a skill you have to learn like driving a car or touch-typing. You can use these free videos and audio downloads for daily short practice sessions instead of paying lots of money for a similar or an inferior learning program:
My second strategy here is to practice what I call Defense- Communication (like defensive driving). The first principal of defensive communication is relaxation. This was addressed in the above.
The second general principal of defensive communication at work is documentation. Whenever you can, get work related role and task clarification statements from this person you work under. Cover yourself on important work related issues by sending “clarifying e-mails”. If you see there is something you need to learn, or a task you need to complete in order to your job well, e-mail this person and say exactly that. Always describe the helpful suggestions you know the company will appreciate work wise. You can then print and save the e-mails to document that you have done everything within your power to do the job well, - including multiple, detailed requests for training.
Even if the manager doesn’t respond in writing but continues to withhold training and supports, you can send very polite follow up reminder messages occasionally, in which you re-state both the training and support needs and the benefits of these to effectively fulfilling your role at work.
It’s very important to stay relaxed and positive with this person. When you write only emphasis the need and the positive outcome you anticipate from the required training and support. That way you’re not contributing to the interpersonal conflict in anyway.
If and when senior management start to see that you are underperforming in your job because you have not had the training or support, you will have e-mail documentation of a long line of detailed and positive training and support e-mails, to back you up. You’re staying calm through all this via relaxation responding instead of stressing out will be incredibly valuable to any employer! This kind of skill will definitely pay off for you one way or the other.
Also, please make sure you have good social support with friends and family after hours. Do all those good self-care things like exercise, healthy diet and high quality sleep, during this period of challenge at work. Try your best to leave this toxic material at work. You can use the relaxation training to help with rest and to get a good night’s sleep too.
I hope you find my answer genuinely helpful. Please don’t forget to press the “Accept Button” if you do.
I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX the very best in your life and in your career!