I wrote this because I feel that most people could benefit from acquiring the art of dealing with their bosses. Most of us have a boss or bosses at work, unless of course if you are your own boss. I am my own boss now, but for a good 35 years I was bossed around.

Working under a boss can be either fun or a dread. Therefore, it is very important that we strike the right chord with our superiors, to make life at work fun or at least bearable. Here are a few tips on how to deal with bosses which I have acquired from my own experience and shortcomings, or from the experiences of others who have related them to me. I cannot guarantee that they will work for you, but I think it is nice to keep them in mind.

1) The most important trait to have is honesty and integrity. DO NOT LIE to your boss even if you mean to please him. If you do it once, then you will be put into a situation where you have to lie again and again. It will come to a stage which will put you in an awkward situation or in serious trouble.

2) With respect to integrity, DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR BOSS BLINDLY. This sometime happens in politics. No boss will cover your tail when you get into trouble for your blind loyalty. Never, never compromise on this aspect because you may escape trouble in the short term, but you may run into problem in the long run. Bosses just love blind loyalty. It is you who will pay the price for it.

3) DON’T BE A HYPOCRITE. Do not say one thing in front of your boss and another behind him. This is by far the biggest mistake many people make. One day, the things you say behind your boss will reach his ears. Then, you will feel the roof falling on you.

4) NEVER CHALLENGE YOUR BOSS DIRECTLY AND OPENLY. No boss wants to look foolish in front of his subordinates, so you need to be tactful. You can never challenge an authority, but you can persuade them to see your point of view. It is called the “art of persuasion.” I know there are people who are really good at this. This art is usually acquired rather than learned. People with this quality are sometime the real boss. However, it can be easily misused for a wrong purpose to hoodwink the boss.

5) It is perfectly fine if you are not your boss’ favorite. Boss’ favorites are not necessary the best or most productive workers, especially when the boss is not a good and productive worker himself.

6) NEVER COVER UP OR LIE FOR YOUR BOSS. Hopefully you will never have to face this situation. However, just as there are good bosses, there are also bad and unethical ones. The best way to handle this is to say no the first time you encounter this situation with your boss. Don’t start, or else you may never get out of doing him the favor. Just tell him off politely that it is against your principles and you will never do it. If you get fired for it, then that is probably also the best thing that can happen to you. It is not worth selling yourself for any job.

7) Lady bosses are just as good or bad as male bosses. Some, even women would argue that lady bosses are more difficult to work with. I do not think so. I think it is more of the boss’ characters rather than his or her gender.

8) TELL YOU BOSS POLITELY IF YOU DISLIKE OR DISAGREE with a decision he has made. Yes, he will be disappointed with you at first. However, if you know you are right, he will normally come around to it. This can be the most difficult situation you may face at work. However, what needs to be done, must be done. If you do not do it, it will probably eat you up and create more problem with your boss down the road. It is best to consult you colleagues before taking this action.

9) If you are scolded or reprimanded by your boss, accept it and apologize if you are clearly in the wrong, and move away to let him cool off. However, if you are in the right, defense yourself calmly but try not to agitate him further. Nevertheless, some bosses are obstinate and will never relent or admit they are wrong. In that case, just let it be. The important thing here is to defend yourself and clearly state your position. You do not have to win a fight with your boss.

10) Remember that bosses are just humans like you. However, sometimes the positions they hold can change their characters tremendously. Some people have problem handling powers they do not have before, and it easily goes to their heads. That is when they can turn into monsters. In such a situation, it would be better to approach your boss with your colleagues as a group, rather than alone. Also, you can file a formal complaint as a group to a higher authority.

Enjoy dealing with your bosses as I did over 35 years.

Jamal Hisham Hashim
8 January 2018


Picture courtesy: The Chronicle of Higher Education

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