Stay engaged, look for the positive and create mental distance
Bosses: Sometimes they don’t get no respect.
Fifty-four percent of employees don’t feel respected by their bosses, a 2014 Harvard Business Review survey found. But the flipside can also hold true: Roughly one-third of people say they could do a better job than their managers, according to a July report from job data site Comparably.
“It’s way too high of an expectation to think that you’re going to respect every boss that you work for,” workplace psychologist Karissa Thacker told Moneyish. With that said, “it’s a myth that you can’t effectively do your job without liking and respecting your boss.” Here’s how to work for a manager you don’t respect:
Stay engaged. Most people’s gut response to a boss they don’t respect is to minimize interaction, but “that is very rarely a good decision,” Thacker warned. “Your judgment of someone as worthy of your respect is a different thing than your ability to work effectively for your boss.” Ask questions, communicate about work and schedule face time, she said. No need to form some “deep, inspiring boss-subordinate relationship — just do the best you can to form a working partnership.”
Look for the positive. Try to find nuance, suggested psychologist and career coach Janet Scarborough Civitelli. “Maybe your boss has very low emotional intelligence but she is brilliant at identifying tech trends,” she told Moneyish in an email. “Or maybe she is a terrible micromanager but she also knows your industry inside and out and is extremely well-connected.”
“Ask yourself: What kind of situation can I see that this person would be effective in; how is it that this person is successful?” Thacker added. Talk to a peer who likes that manager to see the boss’s merits through his or her eyes, she said.
Be aware of your own triggers. Most people have unique emotional triggers to which they tend to overreact, Thacker said: habitual lateness, temper or lack of knowledge on a topic, for example. Though it’s hard to rid yourself of the trigger altogether, being mindful of it can keep you from letting it “dominate your thought process and your actions,” she said.
Create mental distance. Regular meditation can help you “learn how to build more of an observatory stance to the world” so the boss doesn’t “get under your skin in the same way,” said career coach and Bates College psychology lecturer Rebecca Fraser-Thill. An end-of-work-day ritual can build a barrier between work and home life, she added. Listen to a certain music, spray yourself with a certain scent or disconnect for at least a bit from work emails. “You need space from somebody you don’t respect.”
Focus on your work. Staying connected to your own sense of purpose and mission can help keep you afloat, said workplace psychologist Christine Allen. “Refocus your energy back on what you do and why it matters … and you’ll have more meaning and satisfaction” at work, she told Moneyish. “I know that could be harder for some jobs, but ultimately all work matters.”
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