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Don't Let Evil Bosses Ruin You

Some bosses are evil.  And I’m using the word evil like Mike Meyers would use it:  “E-vil. Like, the fru-its of the De-vil.” That’s some pretty serious evil, people.

It’s rare that a boss is a genuinely despicable person, but it happens, and if you have a terrible boss there isn’t a lot you can do to change your situation in the near-term. But that doesn’t mean you should put in your two weeks’ notice and call a headhunter. Remember, your boss is not your company. Your boss is not your career. Your boss is not your destiny. Your boss is just your boss—for now.

What you need are some coping mechanisms to deal with your situation in a way that will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few:

Compartmentalize: a boss is just one element of your work (albeit an important one), so don’t let that relationship creep into everything you do from 8 to 5. You can still find satisfaction in doing great work on projects, working with team members, and building new skills. Don’t torture yourself by thinking about the worst part of your job 24/7.

Stay connected to peers and mentors: You need support from outside the bubble you work in. Peers will allow you to vent and will offer you perspective; mentors will provide the career support you need that your boss isn’t giving you.

Don’t fret over gossip:  One of my old mentors used to say, “Whatever someone else says about me behind my back is none of my business.” Trying his approach over the years has saved me a lot of wasted worry time. Evil bosses will likely be talking smack about you to others or throwing you under the bus in meetings when you aren’t there to defend yourself. Recognizing that this is "none of your business" is incredibly liberating.

Measure yourself by an internal scorecard: You clearly aren’t getting a lot of public praise while working for Satan—er, I mean, your boss. With such lack of support, it can be difficult to set goals for external success. But you can set personal goals and find fulfillment in achieving them. Sometimes being kind, humble and self-disciplined is more difficult—and more gratifying—than achieving external accolades at work. Set goals for your own attitude and behavior each day according to your values, and be satisfied with yourself when you reach them.

Don’t be a hater: Don’t let what your crappy boss says about you be true. In the words of Yoda, “remember once you go down the path of the dark side, forever will it determine your destiny.” Optimism is like gold in a corporate career. People who lose it inevitably stagnate. Don't fall into the death-spiral of negativity.

If none of this works, maybe this statistic will help. According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 (see study here), the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1962) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to 46. That’s a new job every 2.5 years! And that doesn’t include switching positions at the same company. So you are not likely to have your boss around for more than a couple of years. Keep your eye on that prize and press on. Brighter days are ahead!


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