Coping with a Critical Boss

Question From a Reader…

“I have a boss that has pretty much has been down my throat for just about everything! I have worked there for 4 months now, for example, she had given us a Christmas eating out and I had gotten there early with my husband and we waited and nobody showed up so, we started ordering and started eating well, after we were all done eating, we had finally seen them in another area of the restaurant and we had paid for our meal because she never said she would. So, she paid us back.

To this day, she still brings that up that we didn’t call or looked for them. Also, Monday she yelled at me because I had to use white out on my papers that had to be handed in and she said she was tired of my papers looking like that and said she would take 5% of my pay check if it keeps up. And the papers that I had turned in that wasn’t perfect she had redone them, and forged my name on them! this has got to be illegal some how!

What would you do in this situation???

– Cindy”

My Response…
First, you need to become clear about your goal… the way you’d like things to be instead. I would suggest to you that your goal might be to teach your boss the value of providing constructive criticism (i.e., educational criticism) instead of destructive or demeaning criticism.

Go to her and say, “You are clearly not happy with the quality of my work. So, I’d like you to show me exactly what you want whenever you find something you’d like me to do differently. I’ll do my best to improve if you just show me constructively.”

Then, whenever she complains about something, calmly ask her to show you how she wants you to do it. Keep a personal record of each thing and what you did to improve (e.g. “I now make a point of using the whiteout so that it’s smooth and not lumpy” – just a silly example).

Then each week go to your boss with your list of things that she commented on and describe the positive steps you took to improve things.

This approach will demonstrate to your boss that you genuinely care about doing quality work, that you respect her and that you appreciate her constructive criticism.

If you persist with this approach over several weeks, she will respond by appreciating and respecting you more and will begin to see for herself that she is criticizing you way too much when she sees how big your list is every week.

My ebook, ‘Secrets of Dealing with Difficult People’, can provide you with more examples and principles for handling rude and controlling behavior. It will help you become more effective.

Of course, her excessive criticism will likely persist for awhile. So, to carry out such an approach you should use the Wellspring Method to be calm and assertive and not be triggered by her behavior.

…p.s. If your boss mentions the Christmas dinner again, just earnestly and sincerely ask her what you should do about it to make things right.

Live Powerfully!
Dr Mark

Mark Lauderdale MD FRCPC
Psychiatrist and Personal Effectiveness Coach

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