An Unsupportive Boss Can Ruin Work Experience.

How to deal with a difficult boss or colleague

Not having a supportive boss or a cooperative team at work can really take away all your enthusiasm even when it is your dream job. As much as we would like to have a supportive boss or team that helps us succeed and provide us with the necessary assistance; we aren’t all always so fortunate.

Many of us have likely experienced some form of either workplace bullying, gaslighting,  favouritism, or micromanaging. As a result of this, we can end up feeling incompetent and unproductive. Sometimes, quitting may seem like the best option. But before you abandon ship altogether, you might want to re-evaluate how you can better manage the team you already have instead of starting afresh…

Make sure you are actually dealing with a difficult situation or boss

One of the most important things is to establish is whether or not you are dealing with a difficult colleague. Although potentially hard to admit, at times it might be that you’re the one that’s actually being a little too hard on your colleagues. Helen Joy, a management expert, says it is important to understand the situation that you are in. It’s on you to make the conscious effort to get to know the team and understand their reasoning for certain things. Sometimes, this can be enough to shift the relationship in a positive direction.

Do not let a difficult work environment affect your productivity

No matter what the situation, you cannot let your boss’s behaviour affect the quality of your work. Slowing down your pace at work, taking longer breaks, or calling in sick will only increase your workload and put you behind others. It may even give your boss another reason to rally against you.

Establish boundaries and maintain assertiveness

Establishing boundaries is very important, especially if there are certain behaviours cropping up that are absolutely intolerable. You will need to learn to maintain a distance. A good rule of thumb is to make small talk to avoid bitterness and then go about your business.

Helen believes that establishing and then maintaining those boundaries is key as it then allows you to be assertive. Being assertive can be tricky with your boss: it is much easier with your co-workers, especially if you have been in the position for some time. It is about taking that leap of faith once and then being strict with your boundaries. Once you actually achieve a small boundary and actually push them out, it can give you the confidence to be more assertive moving forward.

Foster strong relationships and networks with people at work

If you are unable to build a network with those in your immediate team at work, try to network with those outside your team. Helen encourages employees to interact with other teams in different departments; “maybe find a mentor, who, again, could be outside of your direct line of communication, because for me, a mentor should always be someone that doesn’t have that management responsibility for you. They should be someone that you can go and have completely honest conversations with. And, quite often within bigger organisations, people are quite happy to step into that role.”

Creating relationships and networks allow you to see beyond the immediate team you’re working with and this may open up new opportunities. It’s may be more convenient to move internally instead of getting a new job in a completely different environment, particularly if you like the organisation’s mission or culture outside.

Remember your self-worth

Helen also very interestingly pointed out how the pandemic and working from home has allowed workplace toxicity to seep into one’s home. Bullying or toxicity can have a much bigger impact, emotionally and in terms of well-being, than it would be if you were physically stepping away from work at the end of the day. If it gets to that point, it is about establishing and navigating your personal identity. Remember your values and the things that give you a deep sense of satisfaction, the things that we know are going to be the ones that are going to make you happy.

It is important to know your self-worth and be firm with your identity. Remember that if you were hired in an organisation, it is because the recruiters saw potential in you and there is a reason why you are there. You are bringing values, qualities, and ideas to the team.

Essentially, it all comes down to having set boundaries and being assertive with them. Navigating through toxic work environments can become exhausting. It is not something that will come to you naturally. It is a trial and error process that needs to be dealt with patiently and you can only get it right if you stay and address the situation instead of quitting. It is much easier to deal with the people you have already gained familiarity with than start entirely anew.

Ayesha Mirza Journalism Intern at Yellow Eve

Ayesha Mirza

Ayesha Mirza is a journalism intern at Yellow Eve. She is passionate about dismantling patriarchal structures and uplifting the voices of marginalised groups.

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