By Jenisha Shah
New Delhi– You open your laptop only to find a bunch of emails which need to be replied. With that comes more work that needs to be completed within the shift of “working hours” (which keeps extending most of the time) while we work from home. To add to this mayhem are the unnecessary zoom meetings scheduled wherein you are expected to be a part of and contribute.
Does this sound familiar?
Bosses are of all types, and many people can relate to having a manager whose leadership style puts a strain on their daily life. Many of us have come across various types of dysfunctional bosses- the passive aggressive one who makes those unnecessary sarcastic comments and remarks in meetings, the micro-manager who wants to haunt you at every step of the project and changes/corrects every step. The abusive/aggressive one, who screams loudly to express their thought about everything you do. Or the stalker manager who checks on your every move at work – even when you take that much needed coffee break!
Rakesh (name changed for privacy purposes) shares that his boss wants him to be available after hours and only communicates with him through messaging/texting. He often disregards his ideas.
When you work for one of these bosses, you can feel like you’re being set up for failure. It can be quite difficult to defy an authority figure and even the idea of expressing your thoughts might feel unsafe and intimidating. Inspite of being confident on your viewpoints, it can still be anxiety provoking to not comply with the directions of your boss. Eventually, you may be more upset with yourself than you are with your boss because you’re caught between this conflict of appearing incompetent – and upsetting your boss by speaking up.
The easiest way out at that moment seems to be to seek greener pastures? Or is it that we could be wearing tinted glasses in order to feed that feeling of helplessness.
Hold on, take a pause understand the ways you could bring about a shift in this equation. Putting labels is not going to help to relate with your boss on a productive level.
So how then can one bring about a shift in the paradigm?
Calm your body to calm yourself – Your body is always a good place to start to acknowledge and build awareness of defences that might be up. Focus on your body and what’s happening within. It might be helpful to take 5 mindful breathes to be able to focus on what is inside and what is outside. Neuroscience tells us that embodied practice is where real and sustainable behavioural change occurs.
Make sure you have identified the difference between being a boss and being bossy. This means exercising authority is not the same as being overly authoritative. Someone needs to be the one in-charge, the one to make decisions, and to make sure work is done in a timely fashion. A good boss will see when their team needs direction and will provide it in a constructive way. A bossy boss will try to control the situation by demanding certain things to be done without taking into consideration the capacity of the employee.
When struggling with unrealistic deadlines or expectations it is essential to bring your expertise, gauge the scenario and not dwell into insecurity that you can’t do it. And yet if it still feels unrealistic, review it regarding how much time and effort it would actually take from your experience and then find ways to communicate that. Try chunking a big project into small tasks so as to not get overwhelmed by the deadlines placed on you.
Evaluate your boss’s approach and style to understand if you’ll get a better response by behaving proactively or reactively. The way boss’s work could also be a management culture. Embodying the boss’s style helps to know what to expect and how to respond to it. You’ll gain valuable insights into some of the ways you may be holding yourself back from being able to make greater contribution.
Build empathy – It would be very difficult to be empathetic in situations that feel like a dead-end. Try to understand what is leading your boss to be this way. It will definitely help you to see and understand things from their perspective. What is the boss’s outlook? What might he/she be dealing with in their role? What challenges do they have to face?
Do some trial runs before you convey an argument? Share your viewpoints in a non-threatening manner. Come up with workable solutions rather than presenting problems. Feasible and realistic solutions tend to catch more attention and acknowledgements. Be receptive to the feedback that you receive but do not accept all the feedback. If you disagree, you can communicate authentically without being aggressive or disrespectful. Approach your boss in a calm, professional, and rational manner. Asking for feedback doesn’t necessarily mean it will be positive. So be open to the idea of critical feedback. Your success also depends on the delivery and timing of your discussion; make sure you listen and are mindful of how you respond.
It is important to remember that you lead by example so be a good role model.
(Jenisha Shah, Psychologist and Outreach Associate at Mpower- the Centre, Mumbai, Therapeutic Movement Facilitator) (IANS)