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Three Types Of Toxic Bosses And How To Work With Them


Have you ever dreaded going to work because of a toxic boss or colleague? I know the feeling. Before becoming an international motivational speaker and leadership coach, I worked at a public relations firm in New York City. I had a series of toxic bosses and colleagues that I didn’t want to deal with. But I had to work with them to get the job done. It wasn’t easy, but I had to navigate around situations the best way I knew how. During that time, I didn’t have the tools and skills to handle those situations. Today, ironically, I train teams and leaders to deal with conflict resolution and toxic situations and teach them how to work with each other in effective ways.

There are many types of toxic situations to deal with in the workplace. There’s the colleague that talks about everyone and everything. They congregate in the break room or near the copy machine and always gossip. You really don’t want to have anything to do with this negativity, as it doesn’t support your goals to move up the corporate ladder, but you try to play nice so you don’t rock the boat.

Well let me tell you, you can’t play on both sides of the fence. Your future depends on the choices that you make. You can either waste time or make time while working towards rising to the top. I remember there was an office gossiper who would always hang around my desk and talk about people. He wanted to rally up the floor to be on his side. Now, I didn’t want to get on his bad side and I didn’t want to be an office gossiper either. I didn’t know what to do. So, I decided to avoid him. But what I should have done is let him know that I didn’t want to be involved in negativity and send him away. I’m sure he wouldn’t have bothered me again. But since I never made a direct stance, the behavior kept going. My advice to you: Stop it immediately!

Dealing with a colleague is one thing. You can be direct and speak a little more freely, but dealing with your boss requires more finesse. Here are the most common types of toxic bosses and how to work with them.

The Micromanager 

We have all been around a boss that micromanages. They want to have input on the situation all the time. The micromanager does this to everyone — it’s not a personal attack on your work. They strive for perfection that can never be achieved.

How To Work With The Micromanager

There are many ways to deal with a micromanager. One way is to sit down and ask them exactly what they want. Make sure you’re clear about what they want so you can both be on the same page. Fear of losing control is why micromanagers exist. Your goal should be to make them feel less fearful to delegate tasks to you. It’s tough to get a micromanager to allow full freedom, but by getting them to clearly identify what they expect from you and then seeing you deliver, the working relationship will get better with time.

The Dictator

Have you ever had a boss who tells you what to do, when to do it and how to do it without allowing your input? This is the boss that lives and breathes through his or her ego. They want power and they want to be in charge. They point fingers and want to intimidate you. I’m sure you have dealt with one or all of these scenarios, as they are the top situations I deal with when coaching leaders. Let me tell you, you’re not alone.

How To Work With The Dictator

In this scenario, you must choose how to deal with your boss in a careful way. The goal is to avoid getting flustered or emotional. You have to be strategic when dealing with a dictator. Let them have the accolades. It’s going to be your best card to play. Since their ego leaves no room for yours, you have to get comfortable taking a back seat. Give them credit and trust that you did a good job. But be sure to keep a record of what you contribute, as this will be helpful in negotiations, and don’t release your value.

The Inadequate One

This is the boss that made it through the ranks and you don’t know, nor do they, how they got there. They are in over their head and you have more knowledge and skills than they do, but they are at the top.

How To Work With The Inadequate One

Don’t get frustrated. Stop trying to highlight their incompetencies. You know you have more knowledge than they do. You must let go of your pride and help elevate them because this will ultimately elevate you. Your boss will be so happy if you proceed to give them a helping hand, as this will make you both shine. Don’t try to hurt them; instead, help them out.

Though toxic bosses may be challenging, they are not impossible to work with. You can stop thinking that you can’t deal with them — because you can. You just have to know how to navigate through the situations and these three tactics should help.

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