Thursday Q & A

Today's question comes from KB of Chicago via email

" I feel like my boss hates me. How do I deal with the stress of a toxic boss?" (KB didn't want their name to be used)

So first I have to say take a breath. Let’s look at this from both perspectives, yours and your boss’.

This is about managing up and handling your emotions. I will be honest it’s not easy and you have to really work at managing your reactions. There is a great quote that, I don’t know who said it first, but my mother use to say it to me all the time. “You cannot control how people behave; You can only control how you react to their behavior.” Meaning the first thing is you have to manage your own emotions regarding his/her behavior for two important reasons, 1. If you react before you think you might engage in negative behavior like, counter-attacking your boss which will give them a reason to make your life difficult. 2. You might end up getting fired because you couldn’t manage your emotions and you look like the toxic person in the workplace. This doesn’t mean take the abuse, it means plan for how you will deal with the situation before it happens.

I mentioned managing up, what does that mean? You should try to understand the reasons for your boss’ difficult behavior. Let’s assume generally speaking that his/her difficult behavior is a result of stress and overload rather than a character flaw, chances are good that having a conversation about how to help and/or support your boss in their workload will be enough to modify the behavior. If your boss’ behavior reflect a chronically hostile or abusive style of interacting then chances are less positive that the behavior can change with a conversation. I would suggest seeking help from a trusted mentor in the workplace or human resources professional to evaluate your options.

Now, if you fear of retribution by going to HR, which is something that happens in toxic companies, remember my mother’s saying and start looking for a new job. Unfortunately, if the company is toxic that will not change unless the leadership of the company is open to changing the environment.

Your question was around dealing with the stress here are my top four suggestions:

  • Go for a walk outside in fresh air. Seriously, some physical activity will help your body relax, It’s okay to excuse yourself and take a break.

  • Reduce caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water, herbal teas, and keep yourself hydrated. This will help your body to cope better with stress.

  • Laugh. Life is too short not to have humor. My other use to say I could fine the humor in almost any situation and that it helped me cope with stress. It’s okay to “phone a friend for some comic relief.

  • Be kind to yourself. Remember you aren’t responsible for another adults bad behavior.

I hope that helps and I would love to have other people answer your question as well. Do you have a question you want answered? A comment you need to express? It's Thursday Q & A! use the hashtag hashtag #planning101group #ThursdayQA or email us at and we will post your question and answer on Twitter and LinkedIn

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