How to Conquer Critical Boss


Within the span of your work life, odds are you will encounter a hypercritical boss that never seems to be satisfied and that makes the hours you spend at work seem long and unsatisfying. These critical bosses are often under great pressure themselves and infect all those under them with the same kind of stress. You can be passive and accept your lot and all the unwarranted stress that comes with it, or you can take an active part in managing your situation to alleviate the stress and increase your ability to work effectively.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook
  • Accept the situation for what it is. If it is unlikely you can change the situation, change the way you feel about the situation. Do not hold out hope of pleasing the critical boss; just do the job to the best of your ability and your understanding of your instructions, and let it go. The criticism may be inevitable, but you do not have to internalize the criticism.

  • Gather support from others. It’s likely that you’re not the only one suffering under the constant criticism. Make alliances and compare notes. Those who have been working with the critical boss may have some tips on how to handle him.

  • Remain calm and unemotional, regardless of criticism. Detach your ego from the criticism and don’t take it personally. Listen carefully to what is being criticized. Are there any underlying messages that would help you understand how to better fulfill the requirements? If not, then just take whatever information you can glean from the instructions, and use it to do the best job you can.

  • Let your criticizing boss know that you want the feedback. This has a way of disarming the critic, and may make her take more care with the information she gives you. Ask for clarity about exactly what action she would like you to stop. Summarize what she has told you to make sure you are understanding it as she intended. Then e-mail back to her a few days later to repeat what you heard. Schedule a meeting in a few weeks to get more feedback about progress.

  • Keep a notebook. Make some notes of any criticisms that require a change of action, and record the date. Make the necessary changes. Then, if there is any question of what was said, you will have something to refer to besides your memory.

  • Find ways to de-stress after work. Walk, jog, go to the gym, meditate or listen to music. Find a way to let go of the work stress each day, so you can have a fresh start the next day.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never underestimate the value of being nice. Sharing some cookies or an interesting news story can often take the edge off an uncomfortable work relationship--at least temporarily.

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