Granted, not every single boss is an asshole. But there are enough bosses who fall under the flog category to warrant drawing certain conclusions and outlining certain trends.
It’s only natural when you consider human psychology, power dynamics, and a little science project you may have heard of known as the Stanford Prison Experiment. Yeah, it can get a bit like that sometimes…
Here’s how you can diplomatically deal with your asshole boss (keeping your job not guaranteed).
Learn their rhythms
Humans are creatures of habit. So before you do anything, get into the mindset of approaching this like an ex you’ve crawled back to more times than you care to admit. Dispel any and all hope that they will “evolve” for your sake and come to terms with the beast at hand. Like that particular ex, they’ve probably gotten this far with their behaviour, so why would they even consider changing up the formula?
Instead, it’d be wise to take note of what flies in their own little realm, what clearly doesn’t, and operate within those limits as to avoid any unpleasant blow-ups. By no means are we suggesting you become an idle and complacent sycophant. Rather, we’re suggesting you exercise a degree of flexibility as opposed to running up against your employer head-on. Swallow that pride, keep your chin up, and play them at their own game.
Don’t give them a single excuse
A certain breed of the asshole boss will actively seek pleasure in finding a flaw within your work and making you suffer for it. It’s a shit go, but one that is steeped in the modern reality of professional life. The workaround for this – hand-in-hand with the previous point of learning their rhythms – is to consistently tailor your approach to the way your boss sees correct. That way, your insurance policy (if things do go south) is the fact that you followed their exact directions which lead to the ensuing result. Of course, you should also be prepared to witness some mental gymnastics wherein you still get stuck with the blame. And it’s worth noting if something is blatantly incorrect to the point of damaging, you should just do it the right way and brace for impact.
Draw the line – stand your ground
Yes, that is your boss. On the organisational hierarchy, they are above you. And the state of your financial health virtually depends on them. But you’re also a human being endowed with dignity, deserving of respect, and a member of the workforce who has justified their current position. Set well-defined boundaries, limit employer unpleasantness to your own threshold, and don’t let yourself get pushed up against the proverbial wall. Walk a mile to avoid a fight, but if it comes to that, don’t back down a goddamn inch.
Know your rights & responsibilities down to the tee
This crosses more into the technicalities of employment law and so forth. Know what you can and cannot be asked to do. Know what constitutes bullying, harassment, and abuse. Keep a record of all less-than-savoury interactions for future reference – legal or otherwise. Seek out your HR department. And if there isn’t an HR department, get in contact with the Fair Work Ombudsman. There’s no real punchline or joke here. Which brings us to the final point.
If all else fails, preserve your sanity (and just leave)
There are only so many days in the calendar of life, and you already spend a decent chunk of said days working for a paycheck. Why subject yourself to all that pain, suffering, and aggravation just because you’re moderately comfortable? Devise an exit strategy, use up the rest of your annual leave, head for the door, and never turn back.
Look after yourselves. You’re worth more than that, young kings.