How To Cope With a Stress-Inducing Boss

A long time ago, when I first joined the work force, my supervisor taught me something that she supposedly learned from other people. There are two rules when it comes to a boss-subordinate relationship.

Rule Number 1: The boss is always right.

Rule Number 2: If the boss is wrong, refer to Rule Number 1. 

After some thinking, I realized that the stress in my job does not really come from the job itself. More often than not, most of the stress I experience is “boss-induced”.

We all, at one point or another, have experienced dealing with difficult bosses. I consider myself lucky for being in a workplace with a big boss that I can respect and actually like, both as a superior and as a human being. That does not mean, however, that it’s all peaches and roses. I have other superiors, too. And they all have their moments. Their stress-inducing moments.

Here are some important points to remember when you find yourself in this situation.

* Never forget the pecking order of things. You’re the subordinate, s/he is the boss.


* Be reminded of that line dividing the professional with the personal. This is a bit tricky because, all too often, that line is very thin.

* Remember that you are part of an organization. You are part of a team. You will be working with that person.

* Always try to be polite. Always. Try.

So what do I do to handle this type of stress?

1. I let it out. I don’t want to bottle too much negative emotions inside. So I talk about it. To colleagues, friends, and, yes, even my parents. I complain and whine. As much as possible, I try to avoid badmouthing them (too much), though. After all, I’ll still be working with them.

2. I laugh about it. After the complaints have flown out, I tend to try to turn the situations into a laughing matter. I’d like to think that I am skilled at looking for the humor in things.

3. I sweat it out. An hour of zumba or a yoga session “detoxifies” me, in more ways than one.

4. I keep distance. I have a volatile streak. I had problems controlling my temper while I was growing up. I think I already have a handle on it (now some people wonder if I DO get mad), but I know that part of me is still there, lurking. To prevent it from flaring up, I take a step back, distance myself from the object of my stress.

Better yet, be more literal and go away for a while. For the weekend, perhaps. Take yourself far away from anything resembling work.

5. I give it time. Time heals all wounds, they say, so I let time do its thing. It’s a good thing I’m not the type to carry grudges for a long time, but a little time certainly doesn’t hurt.


Now I understand that this issue, as in everything else, will require different strokes from different folks. And some bosses are more horrible than others. Well, I say good luck, and good vibes.