The Life: The Workplace Doctor's advice on having a boss you can't stand: Coming face-to-face with yourself may provide some interesting and objective perspectives.
Boss has got it in for me so what can I do?
There is no easy way of saying this, so here goes: I can't stand my boss. In fact, I sometimes feel close to hatred for him. I schedule all my appointments and business trips carefully so that I am away when he is in the office and he is away when I am in the office. It is purely a personality clash and I find he treats others in the team better than he treats me. Going forward I realise this is unworkable. While to go to someone more senior about my predicament may solve the issue, it might also see me given my marching orders. What do you suggest? PM, Abu Dhabi
Hi PM, Frankly, I suggest you give yourself marching orders - at the very least, you'll be out of an environment and lifestyle that is not making you happy. Choosing to be in a state of reaction and to live your work life from a place of hatred seems to be a constant for you. That must be taking such energy and effort, as it's simply not the norm for humans. Could it be more productive to channel that energy into a new job in a new environment, or are you now becoming that infamous broken record, one with a story that's just getting bigger and better - one that ends in a self-fulfilling prophecy?
If, however, leaving this job is not possible for now, for financial or other reasons, is it time to stop being part of the problem and be part of a solution?
Let's open up some suggestions here:
• Could speaking with the more senior person open up new ways of handling this situation? Sometimes a person not in the centre of the turmoil can see things differently.
• Would you dare speak with your boss directly? Who knows what may emerge from the conversation.
• If the above don't work, could the reality of a personality clash be turned into a blessing in disguise and the chance to find another work opportunity?
Either way, no matter which solution you take, the great news is that you will have some time to regroup your thoughts and plan for the future. Use it wisely.
If the ideal solution is to stay in this job, then put the time into forging more interactions, asking more questions, suggesting more ideas.
If the ideal solution is to move on, then invest that time into penning out a purpose, researching company profiles, attending networking events, registering on job sites - show yourself that you are capable of turning this around in a way that will work for you, to ensure you are not in the same situation again.
It is also important to stay on top of your health so that stress will not catch up with you. For every eight hours of pain in each workday, add one hour to release that pain: exercise, music, reading, nature - whatever works for you.
Perhaps some reflection time may also help. What evidence do you really have that your boss is treating others better than you? Ask yourself honestly: could my colleagues be receiving preferential treatment simply because I wasn't around when it was dished out? How do I really know whether my boss doesn't have the same for me?
Coming face-to-face with yourself may provide some interesting and objective perspectives.
And oh, PM, one more suggestion. Diarise what you've learnt from this experience, to ensure you don't find yourself living a life of anxiety again. Existing in reactionary mode will not only affect your natural behaviour and 'effortlessness' but also transport you to the world of stress, discontent and possible illness. Is that really how you wish to live?
Read the instructions on the box - be yourself.
Debbie Nicol, the managing director of Dubai-based business en motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for the Workplace Doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague