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Is your boss troubled or just difficult?
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6 September, 2004

Most people complain about their bosses, and many of these complaints are totally legitimate. However, there is a real distinction betweeen a boss who gives you a hard time ("Mary, please check the punctuation on this document for the fortieth time," and bosses who have character flaws that cause them to treat people in destructive ways. Here’s some warning signs that your boss is troubled:

  1. Your boss consistently follows a destructive behavior pattern (like wigging out about your performance in front of others).
  1. Your boss is unable to understand why the behavior is unacceptable, despite your sincere effort to explain it to him/her.
  1. Your boss is unrepentant about the behavior.
  1. Your boss repeatedly blames you for the behavior, as if it were somehow your fault that he/she loses control.
  1. Your boss makes it impossible for you to do your job properly because it is so abundantly clear that you and him/her are not on the same side.

You have tried talking to your boss. You have tried talking to your co-workers. Beyond complaining about it, is there anything you can do to remedy the situation? The answer to that question depends more on you than your boss. If it doesn’t really get to you when your boss loses his/her cool, then it may be best to do nothing. However, if your confidence or self-esteem is being affected, then you might take action or think about another job where the boss stays calm under pressure.

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