How to survive your ‘moron’ boss

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How to survive your ‘moron’ boss

Sometimes it’s obvious to pretty much everyone: Your boss is a complete and utter ‘moron.’

Nonetheless, it’s still a terrible idea to flat-out call your boss that word. Scholars have studied the issue at length (as have the employees of bad bosses). Voluminous academic research on the topic shows what you might have known all along: Disrespect toward your superior, in almost every instance, yields bad results.         

In other words, watch what you say. This topic is particularly timely given recent events in the realm of politics, where Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supposedly called President Donald Trump a “moron.”         

Your boss may not be the leader of the free world, but you should still tread with care. So here’s a handy guide to dealing with a blockhead manager. Put these tips on an index card or snap a photo with your smartphone. Chances are, you’ll need them.          

Distance yourself

If you’re tempted to shout, “What a moron,” get out of the office.            
When you blurt that out, it is rarely a strategic decision. More often, it’s failure of self-control. You think: “I’ve got to say this. I’ll feel so much better.” You won’t. It generally makes things worse.         

Unfortunately, as human beings we have a limited capacity to check our impulses. Every time we hold back, we deplete that capacity a little bit more. And when that resource is used up, watch out.         

What to do? Remove yourself from the situation to take control of your feelings. Take a water break. Step out of the building for a bit. It’ll clear your head so you can think through your next steps.         

Get perspective

Once you have walked away, think about things from your boss’s perspective.  It is our natural tendency to assume other people’s bad or annoying behavior is their choice, when often it’s caused by situational factors they can’t control.  Maybe your boss is in a lose-lose situation, or maybe there are other things going on at work causing him or her to behave this way. Often just taking a minute to step into your boss’s shoes can give you a different perspective on the situation that may make you feel better.          

Come up with a professional response

Outside the office, gather your thoughts and formulate a plan to talk to your boss, calmly and professionally, about the challenge or obstacle that’s causing the frustration and conflict.         

What is your boss doing that’s angering you? Talk to your boss about it, and don't wait until you’re at the end of your rope. That’s when you’ll drop the “M” bomb.

Get a new boss

If it’s so bad with your boss that there’s no way to negotiate a peace, move to a different supervisor or a new company. 

Some bosses and employees just don’t gel. Find a manager who you don’t have to constantly be on guard with. It’s not easy changing positions or companies, but there is probably a boss out there for you who isn’t a ‘moron.’             

— Trevor A. Foulk is an assistant professor in the management and organization department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.            

 

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