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The Journal Gazette

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Lisa Green 

Friday, October 13, 2017 12:20 pm

Reduce the stress; empathize with your boss

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Monday is National Boss Day, but there may not be a lot of celebrating in the workplace.

Three out of four workers report their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their job, according to Michelle Joy and Jody Foster, authors of "The Schmuck in My Office: How to Deal Effectively with Difficult People at Work."

The book was released this spring; I first mentioned it in July.

Bosses, of course, aren't the only people who can be difficult. But with the national day coming in their honor -- or supposedly their honor -- Joy and Foster shared a couple of steps to help reduce tension.

First, acknowledge what you might "be bringing to the table and why your boss' behavior bothers you so much." If you have found solace in group gossip about your manager, Joy and Foster said in an emailed article, chances are there are reasons why you are personally frustrated by the person.

"Do they remind you of someone else in life? Can you absolutely not tolerate criticism? What is it about you that makes your boss seem so bad?" You might be surprised, the article said, at what answers arise.

Secondly, Joy and Foster suggest an approach they say can be hard to come to terms with -- empathizing with your boss. If you have to find a way to get along, you'll need to "take the long view" and try to understand why they act they way they do.

"In allowing yourself to empathize with your boss, you also give space for some of the negativity to fade away," they wrote. In understanding your boss "and yourself, a desire to learn and to grow can start to replace the bottled up disdain spilling into every part of your day."

The hardest part, they said, is "acknowledging our own roles -- and capabilities -- in making the workplace more comfortable."

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears as a column in The Journal Gazette's Sunday Business section.