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How to Work For A Controlling Boss, PART DEUX

leave toxic jobs Jun 15, 2018

In Part I,  we learned that control is primarily a result of trying to meet the need of certainty, and sometimes significance, depending on how the boss requests what he needs. And in that Part I, it was suggested that if you’re under an abusive and controlling boss, you should leave for greener pastures; they are out there (Bosses: Searching For Mr. Right). However, some of us might not have the luxury to leave right away, or we may have our reasons to stay a while. In this instance, you have the option of becoming an empathic superhero by trying to understand where your boss is coming from.


Angela's Story

For years Angela couldn’t leave her position at the bank due to personal and financial reasons. It could have been that the real – karmic – reason she needed to stay in her current role may to learn confidence to stand up to a bully boss and to find her value in the  workplace. Sometimes, we are presented with the same harsh lessons over and over again until we learn what we need to learn from them. Angela could have had any job she wanted, but because her boss at the time told her that she’d never be anything more than an analyst, and that no one would hire her, those words cursed her to be stuck in her role.

Knowing what she knows now, Angela had to stay in that role to learn gratitude for what she had – she had free parking space at the bank, enough money to put a roof over her head and food in the kitchen, enough money to afford a car to drive around, money to buy green organic food… and that even if the situation was bad, it was a lot better than most jobs out there because although the environment was toxic, she got her work done fast enough every day so that she had the freedom to work on writing a book, and leaving by 6 to do exercise every day. She was also so grateful that she could take her laptop and work in areas of the bank that had sunlight and that she could work alone, away from the open collaborative environment – as an Empath, these are keys to shielding yourself from the negative energy of coworkers and soaking up the good energy from the sun and solitude.  She even started a trend of bringing a workout ball to replace her chair so that her abdominals would be working to hold balance as she sat all day at the computer. She learned to take a bad corporate experience and shape it to the way she wanted to live; she was able to create an almost entrepreneurial environment within a staunch corporate one, and therefore the creative, entrepreneurial ideas flowed. Because she was able to take the rigid corporate life and make it into the job of her dreams, she was able to get so far ahead with her ideas. Because of that freedom of creativity and autonomy, she was even more fulfilled, and had the emotional energy to create even more value for others.  Although Angela tried incessantly to change roles, within the bank and out of the bank, she could not leave the place for years.


Authenticity Is The Key To Unlocking Your Value

When we are in an authentic place, we can be open to divinely guided, intuitive messages.  Here’s the thing about confidence: when you hear a message delivered with certainty from an authority figure, you can easily internalize this statement so much that limits you to seeing yourself with much lower capabilities. The risk in staying in a role that is under your capabilities with a boss who does not believe in you, and who does not perceive you are worthy is not only a bad decision because it erodes your confidence, but also a risky one because in the corporate world as it stands now, you could be demoted further down the career level and have your income taken away if management does not see your value. Fortunately, that did not occur for Angela, because although her self-confidence was low, she still believed in always producing quality products. Her karmic debt and lesson to learn was that she needed to stay in that position to find her power, realize her true worth, and to have the courage to leave her old career into something that was congruent to what she valued as a person.

Think About Your Future 

If you were to be living your life just as it is now, without changing anything you are unhappy with, where would you be 5 years into the future? 

All the demotions, all the income lost, all the critical words without praise, all the people who never appreciated you, all the years of having to take sick days because you were too mentally sick to go to work and needed a break from the torture, what about all the days of suffering in your job absorbing all the negative, unsupportive energy of others…  How would you feel? And if you were to extend that pain for another 10 years, giving up all your passions and dreams, to trade your life for money at a place you don’t even enjoy, while the grass and the sun grow green outside in the light, you growing older without realizing your potential because you could have started on your dreams 10 years ago, all that income lost doing what you love… what would it feel like?  What would the pain sound like? What about another 20 years of this shit? How would it have affected your sanity and your immune system? How many years of life would you have lost, both while working in a toxic place and also from the years of life stress took off.

In this moment of suffering you may realise… That it was not that you did not have value in the workplace, the truth was that you actually did have value in the workplace, and all your Belief Systems of the past was actually BS. You have to be courageous enough to show your true self exactly as you are.

It was divine guidance that Angela held her current role for so long even though it was painful: it was there that she developed the superpower of empathy, and how to use it to influence others for the greater good.

How To Use Empathy To Connect With Others:

Angela’s boss was the critical perfectionist type -- the “OCD Boss”. As such, he would constantly criticize, and never praise. Inside, he could never praise himself. People who criticize have the most criticism reserved for themselves. They are never happy with themselves. Would you ever want to be in the mind of a critical perfectionist?

What she realized one day when she came head to head with her perfectionist boss was that they were both caught up on fear. Her boss was afraid of mistakes, and Angela was afraid of losing her creativity and individuality by blindly following someone else’s rules, especially when she didn’t believe they were right. She soon learned that perfectionists and free-thinkers were a match made in hell.


Fear & Criticism: The Killer of Productivity

There is an inverse relationship between fear and true productivity. Once we get rid of the fear, we create the space to get along. Because a perfectionist boss tends to criticize heavily, it causes his employees to fear criticism so much that they can’t enter into a flow state of production, and hence tend to make more mistakes, which creates a vicious cycle. Mavericks (take the quiz – Which Work Archetype Are You?) may engage in passive aggressive behavior such as taking extra-long lunches or sick days, or surreptitiously sneaking out. 

Empathy can be used to manage the controlling behaviors of a perfectionist boss:

  1. Accept that he can never praise you, because he never praises himself. Do not take it personally. And if he insults you, save the insult in writing, date it, and save it in a portfolio to make a record of the behavior.
  2. To keep a controlling boss off your back, cover his fear of mistakes and looking bad in front of others. What do you need to do to make him trust that you have covered all your bases? Write the question on a post-it and hang it on your desktop monitory: What else am I not seeing?
  3. Come from this mindset: What is he scared of? How can I best serve so that he won’t be scared?


How to Handle A Critical Boss? Shine.

The lesson with critical bosses is like this Aesop fable of the north wind and the sun. The north wind and the sun made a bet to see who can take a random traveler’s cloak. First the wind blew his hardest, which only caused the traveler to wrap his cloak even more tightly around himself. Then, the sun began to shine. Soon the traveler became so warm that he took off the cloak by himself.

The answer is to shine. The way to shine to critical people is to show them in word and deed that you take what they find important seriously. You may think your boss is a crazy control freak, but he’s just scared. He is probably scared of looking bad in front of someone higher up. What kind of life is that? If you have to stay with him, my advice is to serve. Ask yourself: How can I best serve my clients, my group, my organization? This entails taking your boss’s silly messages with the intent to help rather than to roll your eyes at his weirdness. Critical bosses love it when you pay attention to the minutest details, and they can read your irritation as clearly as if it were written in neon lights across your forehead. If you think of them as people who are terrified that something will go wrong, then you will be much more likely to make the right choices on how to behave with them.  In summary, realize that they are scared of something going wrong. Think from that mindset and you have the opportunity to learn more than all of your peers in the field you are in, and from there, you can take those skills and market them to go anywhere you choose. This is the way you can control a controlling boss.


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

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