Let’s face it, if you work 30-40 hours a week, you spend most of your time with co-workers, and if you don’t get along, this can make for very tough weeks on end. Did you know that the number one reason people will leave their jobs, is because of their disdain for his or her boss? It’s true. Working for someone you don’t like, is hard, demoralizing, embittering and just plain hell, and 40 hours a week with this person is just not worth it.

I’ve had my fair share of “bad bosses” as well as really good ones. I learned from both. The bad ones taught me how NOT to treat my staff, and the good ones taught me how to be a leader instead of a boss. The trick is cultivating a healthy work relationship with your superior, his or her superior, your peers and your subordinates.

“So, how is this done, Andrea?” you ask, read on:

  • It’s important to leave your personal baggage/biases at home and not bring it to the job/office and then interact with each individual as just that—an individual; not a race, not a gender, not by that person’s sexuality or his or her aesthetic. These are just labels people may use to justify how they “should” treat others based on learned behavior. The treatment one receives rarely has anything to do with who he or she is as a person, as much as it does a collective; and the negative treatment people receive is usually unjustified.
  • Some people have more challenging personalities and there is no way around this. Don’t take it personally. You will not be able to turn him or her around to being a less challenging person if it’s not in them, and there is no way to know this unless you depersonalize the bad behavior, thus separating it from the person, and try to develop some type of healthy working relationship.
    • Please know that this will not require a friendship by any means, however, in some instances, it can develop into one.
    • The relationship that most often develops will become one of understanding of that person’s motivation. Once you understand why he or she is, you can then accept him or her right where they are and then leave it right there. The best outcome is that you can co-exist and present the best work possible.
  • Speaking of relationships, COMMUNICATE! If someone offends you—take a beat and discuss the person’s actions and how they made you feel. Take the emotion out of it, and don’t get defensive/mean/speak in anger/hurt. Don’t attack or accuse. Seek to understand. Offer something to the person, “If I’ve done something to offend you, I invite you to discuss it with me.” Once you neutralize the conversation so that the other party doesn’t get defensive (and with that, close off all communication), they can lower their barrier and it will become easier for them to listen and feel valued as an individual. This opens discussions, and you can now understand, perhaps, the why behind the behavior. Maybe you discover that said party was having a bad day and taking it out on you. Regardless, congratulations, you have opened the possibility for more collaboration and cohesion in the workplace, thus making you more productive and hopefully successful! Good for you!!!

I remember a director who reminded me when I was in the throes of hating my boss, that I am a leader, and as such, I will always have to take the higher road. Especially during the toughest moments. It was and is a valuable lesson that all leaders know: “Bosses, boss. Leaders, lead.” We lead by example first, and there isn’t anyone (well, almost anyone) we can’t lead if we set our minds to it.