How to Deal With a Disrespectful Boss

The disrespectful, rude or insulting boss is a common problem. But how do you tackle the issue? This article looks at the three choices you have when confronted by a dilemma such as this and what the repercussions might be for each one. It also goes over the various reasons that your boss might be acting like this - something that might help you decide on your course of action.

By Steve Kaye

"How do I get my boss to treat others with respect in a meeting?"

"It depends."

The Choices

We always have three choices when confronted by a dilemma.

1. Change the situation. In this case we could talk to the boss about how disrespect undermines a meeting's effectiveness. Of course, this depends upon the boss. If the boss is a mean, vindictive person who fired the last person who made a suggestion, attempting to change the boss could be a bad idea.

2. Change yourself. Here, you find ways to cope. For example, you could avoid meetings held by your boss or you could ignore the painful behaviour. In this case, such an approach may seem cowardly, but people do this because survival may be more important than valour.

3. Leave. If the first two options are impossible, then the only remaining option is to find another job. Admittedly, the cost of leaving may be large. And so once again this choice depends upon what you can do, want to do, and will tolerate.

The Boss's Problem

All negative behaviour reveals a flaw. That is, a boss who treats others with disrespect may be doing so for a variety of reasons, such as:

1. No awareness. Your boss may not know that respectful communication is possible. In this case your boss would benefit from personal coaching or a positive role model (both provided by his or her boss).

2. Lack of communication skills. Your boss may not know how to communicate respectfully. This can be resolved by attending a workshop that shows people how communicate effectively.

3. Choice. Here, the boss chooses to treat others with disrespect. This reveals a personal or ethical weakness that requires counselling to resolve. And such work can be effective only when the boss recognises its importance and decides to undertake corrective action.

Steve Kaye helps leaders hold effective meetings. He is a certified professional facilitator, plus an author and speaker. His meeting facilitation and leadership workshops help to create successful people.

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