Career Success Advice — Not a Super Bowl Recap

This is not a post Super Bowl blog post.  You’ve probably seen enough of those. The giants won by the way.

Instead today’s post covers some great career success advice from one of my frineds. Chrissy Scivicque is the coauthor of my book Success Tweets for Administrative Professionals.  She runs a great site called Eat your Career: Helping You Create a Nourishing Professional Life.  I check in with her site regularly – so should you.

The other day, Chrissy posted a very interesting article: “4 Reasons to Love the Boss You Hate.”  In this article she shows how learning how to deal with a tough boss — while painful in the short term – can have long term career success benefits.

Chrissy is a pal.  She lets me repost her articles here.  This is one you really want to check out…

4 Reasons to Love the Boss You Hate
Chrissy Scivicque

I’m not a big fan of the word “hate” but let me be honest: I’ve definitely felt some very, VERY strong negativity toward a few of my superiors in the past. Hey, I’m only human. This is probably one of the most common challenges I hear from professionals.

Working for someone you don’t like is the absolute worst. And yet, it can be a great learning experience if you approach it with the right attitude.

Here are 4 reasons you should love that boss you hate:

1. Personal Insight

You can actually learn a lot about yourself in a situation like this. Consider the following questions:

• Why does this person get under your skin?
• What values are being stepped on here?
• How are you possibly contributing to the situation? (Ouch! Don’t skip this question; it will give you amazing insight.)
• What do you really want from a boss? Are you, perhaps, expecting too much?
• What kind of leader would YOU be?

2. Practice

Look, the business world is full of jerks. Consider this great practice for the future. You’re exercising patience and your ability to not take things personally. With practice, it gets easier.

3. Future Wisdom

After working for someone with whom you don’t click, you’ll be on the lookout for a better match in the future. Next time you’re interviewing for a new position, you’ll be more aware of the impact a supervisor has, and you’ll have more understanding of what you want in a boss. Perhaps you’ll see red flags you might have missed before.

4. Opportunity

I know this sounds a little nutty, but that jerk of a boss is giving you a great opportunity. You have the chance to adapt, to implement new strategies and, ultimately, build a bridge in some fashion. It might never be the perfect relationship, but there’s always a chance you can improve things. So don’t give up! Look for openings to strengthen your partnership. Use your relationship building skills and develop new ones. There is room for growth here.

Chrissy is right on here.  I’ve had my share of bad bosses over the years and I’ve learned that a bad boss can be a blessing in disguise.  As Chrissy points out, bad bosses provide great learning opportunities.  Learning how to work well with a difficult boss will help you learn how to deal with all sorts of difficult people.

Tweet 133 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Resolve conflict positively.  Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not destroy, the relationships you’ve worked hard to build.”  In other words, when you’re dealing with a difficult boss, look for ways to manage your conversations in a way that will enhance your relationship with him or her.

Successful people resolve conflict in a positive manner.  No matter how interpersonally competent, or how easy-going you are, you will inevitably find yourself in conflict.  This is especially true if you have a difficult boss.

I know a little bit about conflict resolution.  It was the topic of my dissertation at Harvard.  Way back in the 1970’s, Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann developed an instrument to measure a person’s tendencies when in a conflict situation.

They came up with five predominant conflict styles: Competing, Collaborating, Compromising, Accommodating and Avoiding.  Their research suggests that all five are appropriate depending on the situation.

As a career success coach however, I have found that the Collaborating style is the best default mode – and is especially good for dealing with a tough boss.  When you collaborate you’re your boss to resolve your differences, you are focused on meeting both your needs and his or her needs.  I like this style because it helps you bring together a variety of viewpoints to get the best solution.

When you collaborate, neither you nor your boss will be likely to feel as if one of you won and one of you lost.  Also, collaborating with a tough boss creates the opportunity for you to work together to build a solution that best addresses both of your concerns.  It’s a win-win.

When you have a tough boss focus on your similarities, not your differences.  This will help you create a bond that gets you through your conflicts, but helps strengthen your relationship.  And a good relationship with your boss is important to your life and career success.

This may sound counter-intuitive.  By definition, conflict is a state of disagreement.  But try it out.  When you’re in conflict with someone – especially your boss – focus on where you agree with him or her, instead of on where you disagree.

Look for any small point of agreement and then try to build on it.  I find that it is easier to reach a larger agreement when I build from a point of small agreement, rather than attempting to tear down the other person’s points with which I don’t agree.

Most people don’t do this.  They get caught up in proving their point.  They hold on to it more strongly when someone else attacks it.  If you turn around the discussion and say, “Let’s focus where we agree, and see if we can build something from there,” you are making the situation less personal.  Now the two of you are working together to figure out a mutually agreeable solution to your disagreement.  You’re not tearing down one another’s arguments just to get your way.  Try this.  It works.

This is a great way to not only resolve conflict in a positive manner, it helps strengthen your relationship.  Conflict often leads to a deterioration of relationships.  This approach is a no-brainer.  First, you resolve conflict positively.  Second, you strengthen your relationship with your boss.  Third, you improve your chances of becoming a life and career success.

When you come together with the people with whom you disagree by identifying some small point on which you agree, you are putting yourself in the position to begin building a resolution to the conflict – one that is likely better than either side’s opening position.  And, by working together, you’ll be strengthening your relationship.  This will facilitate even more effective conflict resolution down the road.  Look for common ground.  When you find it, build on it.  You’ll find that this is a great way to resolve conflict in a manner that enhances your relationship with your boss.

There are two career success coach points for dealing with a difficult boss here.  Both are common sense.  First, take responsibility for yourself.  Tell your boss how you feel.  Don’t let him or her do things that make your life unpleasant.  Second, stand up for yourself in an assertive, non-aggressive way.  Follow the career advice in Tweet 133 in Success Tweets.  “Resolve conflict positively.  Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not destroy, the relationships you’ve worked hard to build.”  Conflict can destroy relationships – and it can strengthen them.  When you find yourself in conflict with another person – especially our boss — choose to see it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with him or her.  The career advice here is simple.  Resolve conflict with your boss by acting in a positive, proactive and assertive manner.

That’s my career advice on learning to love the boss you hate. What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  I’m especially interested in hearing stories from people who have successfully built a strong relationship with a difficult boss.  As always, thanks for reading my daily thoughts on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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