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How to Work For A Controlling Boss

leave toxic jobs May 18, 2018

Are you working for a boss who constantly makes you feel inadequate? Do you have a boss that is not supportive of your career growth, because they want to keep you in your current position? This may manifest in actions such as being controlling, using bullying or manipulation, or even gaslighting. So many Empaths find themselves working with toxic bosses at work that steal their confidence and keep them small. 

In many industries, departments are reorganized every few years, and new bosses are placed above you, or you are placed in a new department with a different boss, so the chances of getting a toxic or controlling boss who wants to keep you small are steadily increasing. Maybe you are dealing with a controlling boss right now. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing – sometimes  the most pivotal points in life occurs when you have a toxic boss because that’s when you realise that you deserve more for yourself, and that the cycle of bad treatment stops here.

But let’s be honest. Even when we are looking at the positives of being in this situation, we have to see that this type of behavior destroys your confidence more than you know. So it must be healed within ourselves so that we can stop the cycle, and hopefully make the toxic bosses eventually wither from lack of power, for the greater good of all. Because behaviors that are modeled are passed down, whether from parent to child, or from boss to future boss. And whatever you feed grows. This site is all about feeding what is good and modeling behaviors of integrity, compassion and empathy in this world.


What causes controlling behavior?

What makes some bosses so obsessive compulsive, micromanaging or bullying? What we've found from working under these types of people, is that controlling behavior can be linked to the need for certainty and significance.

When a person is micromanaging, giving/barking orders without consideration, restricting schedules, constant checking up on employees, what does he want? Certainty that he will get the results he wants, and maybe even significance of using his status to demand value from the people he manages, rather than lead and influence. Certainty and significance-driven managers are as common in the corporate workplace as ants are to picnics. They are always there. We as Empaths are given the gift of awareness, and to not pass on these values to the people we manage, when we become the leaders. Instead we lead with love and connection, and contribution.

Controlling behavior can signify a lack of trust, whose ultimate root is powerlessness. This powerlessness is a characteristic of a victim mentality, and insecurity. If you were secure in yourself, wouldn’t you have more trust in your ability to influence others to do what you want? Wouldn’t you have more trust in the ability of others to perform their duties? And would you generally have more trust in the world at large? As a leader, part of building your power (significance) and security (certainty) in handling anything is releasing resistance to the current situation and seeing it for what it really is. And then seeing it as better than it is. And then finding a way to get there. Releasing resistance to the situation, rather than trying to control it, actually takes much more self-confidence than the latter. Therefore, people who try to control are actually quite insecure.


How to handle a controlling boss as a Lightworker or Empath

As an Empath (Take our quiz:  Are You An Empath Or Lightworker?), having a boss who is controlling and insecure can quickly stifle our soul, because we need flexible environments where we can take regular breaks to process all the external stimuli around us, especially if we work in an open environment. These breaks allow our brain to be able to process information quickly and provide creative and inspired responses. When Empaths are rushed or controlled, we cannot offer our best work, because we not feel safe to tap into our delicate intuitive responses. 

Likewise, when Lightworkers (Take our quiz:  Are You An Empath Or Lightworker?) are caught in a toxic workplace, their light can easily be dimmed, if they do not take the right precautions, or get out completely.

Here’s a lesson from one reader Sasha on this topic:

“I worked well with my boss at first.  I watched how he handled transactions, negotiated deals and managed people. I learned a lot of good things from him – like the importance of paying attention to details, how to push back on a no to get a yes, how to garner the support of higher ups before introducing a new idea… These were all valuable lessons in the workplace. However, it was like walking on eggshells with him. Although he made me work in an area I was new to because the other guy had quit, I was scared to ask him questions because he’d make me feel stupid for asking them or yell at me for not knowing. To make it worse, every time I would talk to him about where I wanted my career to be, he would say hurtful things like: “You don’t understand any of what you are doing. You are not going to get where you want.” or my favorite: “You’ll never be more than an analyst”.

If I’d ask him questions, he made me feel stupid, but if I didn’t ask questions, he’d say: "You should have more confidence".  I quickly realised that although his responses seemed to exude confidence, about half of the time, he was wrong or did not make the right decision. After a lot of thought I realized that probably he was angry when I asked him questions because he didn’t know the answer himself but wanted to look good.

 I also discovered that my method of being authentic - not being afraid to say I don't know an answer, to ask questions without worrying about being perceived as stupid, and generally being humble - angered him somehow. Again on the confidence issue, whenever I said “I don’t know” he’d chastise me for saying it because he claimed it lacked confidence. I thought I was just being honest.

One day I came back from a seminar where one of the Leaders told me that I could be a Director in the company, but I just didn't see my power. And if my boss didn’t see that, I should find a boss who did, or who would support me to get where I wanted to go. So I went home and asked my boss to be my mentor to help me reach that position. He laughed and told me it was not attainable, that I didn't have a realistic view of my strengths and weaknesses. He said my friends at the seminar didn't know what they were talking about and that they just say motivating things. That wrecked my confidence and ability to see my power for a long time.”

So what is an Empath or Lightworker to do when encountered with a domineering boss?

1) Set energetic boundaries

The first thing an Empath should do in these types of situations is protect their energy from all that negativity. (Get our free video: How to Protect Your Energy and Feel Alive) Set boundaries so that your toxic boss’s words do not reach you. It can be as simple as telling yourself “I’m just not going to let that that in” or saying outloud to yourself “Those are his words, not mine. They are not mine.” Or it can be more substantial, such as taking yourself back into that scene and imagining how you would have wanted it to go – and writing that story down instead, so that your subconscious is healed of the experience.

Additionally, it’s good practice not to share goals with just anyone. Set boundaries on who is let in on your goals and dreams.  It matters who you share your hopes and dreams with, especially as an Empath who can be very sensitive to the thoughts and energy put out by others. The most successful people never share their goals with others, unless they are sure that person can support them 100%. Why? Because most people are jealous if they find you want to improve your life; there is a risk they would lose you as a friend, colleague or worker if you go too far. They want you to stay where you are, and keep the status quo.

Another reason is that lot of people don’t see the vision for yourself that you see.  About goals – keep them secret, because the less you talk, the more action you are taking… toward fulfilling them.

2) Know Your Value

There’s a story of the father, the son and the rock. One day a father gave his son a rock and told him to bring it to the flea market and sell it for 2. The son went to the flea market and a shop owner looked at the rock and said to the boy, “what do you want for that rock?” The boy held up 2 fingers. The shop owner agreed: “I’ll give you $2 for the rock.” The boy was about to hand over the rock for the money when the father said, “No deal.” And so the boy and the father walked away.

Once they left the flea market, they started to take a walk down the street where they ran into store of precious gems and crystals. The father told the boy to bring his stone into the gemstore and sell it again for 2. So the boy went up to the desk and the gemstore owner said “What have you got there little boy? Let me see that stone! Why this is a rare stone, are you selling it?” The boy nodded affirmatively.  How much do you want for it? The boy held up 2 fingers.  The gemstore owner gladly said “$2? That’s a steal, I’ll give you $200 for that stone.” As the boy lit up with happiness for waiting for this new offer, the father once again said “I’m sorry, no deal.” And so the by and the father left the store.

Upon walking again, the father suggested they head to the local museum of natural sciences. Again the father told the boy to bring the stone to the museum owner and present it to him for sale. When the museum owner asked the boy how much he wanted for the stone, the owner said that this was one of the rarest types of artifacts in the world. And the boy once again held up 2 fingers. The museum owner proceeded to write him a check for $2 million.

It’s essential to know your value in the market place. Most of us, if we are unfulfilled in our jobs, are really living at the flea market. And if our bosses want to tell us how worthless we are every day and make us feel badly for not doing everything exactly how they want it, we know that there are places where people will place more value on us. We all have to find our own museum.  

3) Realise it’s not you; it’s them – they don’t feel good enough

What we’ve found is that people who criticize others and push them down have the most criticism for themselves. When they make you feel not good enough for the job, it’s because they themselves have not learned to value themselves properly, so they extend this subconscious feeling to anyone they can – and the perfect person for this is an employee who can’t talk back. It’s never about you. The truth is, someone hired you and thought you were good enough for the job, and even if it wasn’t your current boss who did so, the fact remains that you are at the company because someone thought you were good enough. The only obstacle now is to convince yourself that you are good enough, and either make plans to leave your toxic environment, or if you cannot, stay as far away energetically from your boss as you can.

There are bosses with whom you can ask any type of question relating to work and they will never make you feel inadequate. Even if you have asked the question before. People don’t always get things the first time.  We are all doing the best we can with the resources we have.

For example, have you ever tried to salsa dance? 1,2,3, - , 5, 6, 7, - Did you learn it on your first try? And if you did get the steps down on your first day, did you remember it a week later, or even more, did you have your steps looking clean, flawless and beautiful, just as it should? Understanding the nuances of the dance and why the steps are done as they are takes time, dedication and high level awareness. You don’t get these things overnight. That’s why an Empathic boss is so powerful – they are able to understand the journey of the employee and they have the awareness that understanding of the process is essential to taking their work, and productivity to a higher level.

We all have a right as humans to be appreciated and treated with respect. It takes strength and courage to think for ourselves and trust our own decisions. But we have to make the decision to start doing that now.

In leading people in organizations, it’s always helpful to make them feel comfortable with asking questions, and making decisions, without making them feel that they are not good enough. Solicit a response by asking questions such as “How did you arrive at that decision?” And when they come up with an answer, engage in a rational debate about other possible solutions and select the best one together. In this way you are engaging the employee in the process and making it as much their decision as your own. Hence, they feel respected and appreciated.

Realise that you have everything in within you to be whatever I wanted, even if you want to be a Director, and that you are not such a failure your boss makes you feel. When a boss is making you feel bad for making your own decisions or asking questions, and even more so, refusing to train you, it is usually because of 1 of these 2 reasons:

(1) They are afraid of you taking their place. They have grown up feeling unworthy and they do not know any better than to pass it down to you.

(2) They are afraid you'll find out they don't have all the answers they say they do. They essentially do not know what they are doing, hiding behind a facade of fake confidence.

4) Find your own museum 

Like the story in point 2 above, when the boy went to a museum that knew the value of the rock, he was able to create abundance for himself.  To find someone who knows your value that much – so that you can make the biggest difference – you first must know your own value. Find your power by knowing that your worth is not determined by your performance review, or how a boss sees you. Sometimes you have to go out on your own and find your own validation. You can do this by figuring out the problems yourself, finding your own information, making your own mistakes. Once you know you can handle everything, you’ll know inside that you have everything you need to build great rapport with clients, build that phenomenal spreadsheet, or speak in public on cue and do a great performance.

You may find that you will even receive accolades from colleagues on how much you’ve helped someone else. Why? Because when you reach out to create value, to own your value by taking on your own course, people notice, because that kind of bravery is rare. Your boss may not approve or like this, but you really have to ask yourself – would you rather stay small and cower scared of what your boss may say to you, or do you prefer to create your own value, develop yourself and create an atmosphere of genuine care for others? Guaranteed, this will always be valuable at any workplace, because a self-starter is rare. If your boss doesn’t approve, then most likely some other department or company will quickly buy your stone for a much higher price.

Sometimes, your boss is just not the right boss for you. Every boss is there for a reason. Some are there for you to learn certain lessons about yourself and to grow. For instance how to defend yourself from being treated unfairly. How not to treat others. How to recognize a toxic environment. But through it, you will learn your power - and that you could do anything you can imagine.

We were born with this unstoppable confidence, yet we lost it because others kept us small. We know this issue so well that we’ve created a free PDF to help you see your true power. (Download our free PDF: How to Have Unstoppable Confidence) Sometimes it takes looking in a mirror at an insecure boss to face your own insecurities. But now that you know, we send our best wishes to you in taking your rock to a fabulous museum.

To your abundance….


Have a toxic boss? Let others know what you learned and how you handled it in the comments below.

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