working for someone you dislike

How do you work for someone you dislike?

working for someone you dislike

Question: “Five months ago I was hired as an admin at a telecommunications company. Recently I’ve come to realize that while my boss and I do get along, he’s kind of a classic jerk—and everyone warned me about it. He’s rude, condescending, argumentative and sometimes just plain mean, but he seems to get away with a lot because he’s apparently terrific at bringing in profits. Does anyone but me feel there’s something not right about working so hard for someone you find personally offensive, even if you need the paycheck and your work relationship is perfectly functional?” – Valerie, Administrative Assistant

See and share comments below, and send your own question to [email protected]

This question originally appeared at Admin Pro Forum and has been shared with the permission of Business Management Daily. 

Catch Joan Burge and Jasmine Freeman at the AdminPro Forum in Orlando this June.


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11 thoughts on “How do you work for someone you dislike?”

  1. Gloria von Gesslein

    Every assistant has a brand, whether they realize it or not. Mine happens to be working exceptionally well with “difficult and challenging personalities.” Some people may say, we all have that. No, I’m being politically correct and using more HR read between the lines. These are people no one wants to work with and leaves the firm, over and over and over again. Toxic people. Crazy makers. Even abusers. I get hired to do this. I get pulled from positions to do this during restructuring. Its often one of the last attempts to make it work.

    1, don’t take anything personal.
    2. take a step back and put some emotional distance between you and the manager to gain perspective. 3. ask yourself what is the manager is really concerned about. Then, talk to them and address it. Keep it simple and to the point at all times.
    4. sometimes, you just have to let them vent.
    5. Be flexible. A must. Otherwise, you will break. It won’t work. There is a tremendous ebb and flow here.
    6. Be strategic and exceptionally detailed in everything you do to address their needs and extra wants.

    There are other things but these are just some that come to mind. Not everyone can work for someone like this and it can take a toll on you. It this is not a match, you will need to move on to find a better fit. Don’t wrestle an anaconda if you haven’t handled a rattler (rattle snake).

  2. Dear Valerie: I agree with the other responses that you might want to consider waiting until after the probationary period. You need to have the talk with him but it should be done very professionally with respect. So practice it with someone else outside of work. You must show confidence and look him in the eye. Perhaps start out with the things you like about the job, improvements in processes you have made or intend to make and then approach his behavior with courage, confidence and respect. Who treats people consistently with disrespect? It is one thing to have a bad day but consistent behavior like this is not leading people with values. Administrative Professionals have so much to offer with the correct fit.

  3. Dear Valerie,

    Been there, done that. I spent many years working in an uncomfortable work situation – I couldn’t leave for a number of reasons and, at first, I watched my self esteem plummet because the interaction between me and my supervisor. Since there was no way to change the situation or change my supervisor, I decided to seek out the good in him and focus on that; I also refused to be drawn into the negative drama (a mental plugging my ears and singing la, la, la, la). When he realized I only addressed the positive and ignored the rest, he began to change in his attitude toward me. We were never “besties” by any stretch of the imagination, but toward the end we were able to function in a relatively healthy situation.

  4. Valerie,
    It did not sound like your boss mistreats you. It does sound like you are concerned about how he treats others. So you do not have a personal issue with him but an issue with his treatment of others. If I understand you correctly then this is something you have time to carefully consider before approaching him. I would not necessarily bring it directly to his attention. I would approach it from the standpoint of improving the perception of others towards your entire office staff in general and maybe mention him modeling the behavior he expects of his staff. As the boss he is the leader and the “face” of your department. I would also make sure that the people that I network with in the office realize that I and my boss are not the same person. Again I would go about this subtly. You do not have to say it but you can show it in your actions. Always be kind and considerate without letting people walk all over you. Show your coworkers that you are an asset to the company and not just the department you work in through your work product and interactions with them. If you do not feel comfortable after trying these or similar methods then consider moving elsewhere in the company. You will at least have set a positive example and earned a good reputation of your own behavior.

  5. Dear Valerie: A probationary period is not only for the employer, it is also for the employee. I would seriously consider if you want to continue working for this person or for a company that ignores his behavior simply because he brings in profits. If you feel the job is worth putting in extra effort then you need to seriously think about a face-to-face with your boss. I stepped into a position where I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the executive who hired me and within a very short period of time learned that I had attached myself to a very unpleasant individual and after 8 months of trying to find a new position, ended up quitting without another job. I was blessed to get another job just a couple of weeks later, but I should have been more alert to the signs earlier on that this just wasn’t going to be the right job for me!

  6. I was given some advice that really helps. Whenever I find myself thinking, “Did he/she really just say that to me/ask me that???” my reply is, “I heard you say… (repeat what I’ve heard in my own words), “is that what you meant?” That gives the speaker an opportunity to hear how they sound and rephrase the question or comment. Like Donna said, sometimes people are just not aware of what they sound like until it is brought to their attention.

  7. I know that working for someone you dislike can be a difficult and trying situation. It could be that he isn’t aware that he treats you in this way. If someone is not alerted as to how they are acting, they’ll never correct the offensive behavior. In addition, you shouldn’t be forced to work under hostile conditions. You need to have a sit down with him and tell him that you are offended by how he treats you. I normally rehearse this type of talk, because he may be offended if it comes out wrong. Good luck.

  8. Very difficult situation. I agree with Bibi on waiting until after your probation to talk with your supervisor. There is always a tackle way of communicating without trying to hurt feelings. As we all know there will be difficult people all the time; however, a supervisor is hard to work with daily. Good luck!

  9. I wouldn’t exactly “meet fire with fire”, but I would definitely set the bar for how I am to be treated at work. My demeanor can be “joking, but not really” to get my point across. If he and I have a bit of a repore, I may do the sandwich approach with a compliment, then the problem, and then another compliment. However, I have a feeling he knows he can be a jerk and it’s up to him what he does with the info you give to him. Good luck!

  10. Dear Valerie:
    My first “reflex” so to speak, is to tell you to discuss the issue at hand with him and let him know what he is doing. My 2nd thought is, what is the duration of your probation? He might not appreciate you bringing matters to his attention and fail your probation.
    Having said that, wait until your probation has ended, then cautiously, but firmly address the problem.
    Every thing will be good.

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