YOUR CA­REER If you don’t get along with your boss

What to do if you and your boss don’t see eye-to-eye

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Vin­cent Phahlane

NOT get­ting along with your boss can im­pact neg­a­tively on the or­gan­i­sa­tion as the pro­duc­tiv­ity or per­for­mance is de­pen­dent on the re­la­tion­ship between the per­son who del­e­gates the work and the one who executes the man­date. Some­times peo­ple do not have to like each other to work to­gether, what is im­por­tant is to get along well.


Ac­cord­ing to Per­tu­nia Nkosi, a su­per­vi­sor and so­cial worker based in Ger­mis­ton, Jo­han­nes­burg, it’s not un­com­mon for bosses and em­ploy­ees to have dif­fer­ent opin­ions about their re­la­tion­ship.

“A boss who pre­sumes that he or she is highly re­spected and well-liked may be viewed as con­trol­ling and ma­nip­u­la­tive by their sub­or­di­nates. Sim­i­larly, a worker who thinks the boss loves them may be sur­prised to learn they are not held in high re­gard,” she ex­plains.

Per­tu­nia con­tin­ues by say­ing some­times be­neath that po­lite be­hav­iour lies deep rooted feel­ings of anger, re­sent­ment and con­tempt. Even when th­ese feel­ings are hid­den, the neg­a­tiv­ity can take a toll on the re­la­tion­ship.

“If you and your boss don’t have a re­la­tion­ship, there are ways to im­prove the way you re­late with one an­other. Iden­tify the cause for not get­ting along well. It will help you ad­dress the root of the prob­lem,” she says.

“Also, it is im­por­tant to ad­dress the is­sues that con­trib­ute to the ten­sion between you and your boss. Dis­cuss the is­sue, deal with the dif­fer­ences and work through the prob­lem.”


Com­mu­ni­ca­tion between you and your boss can help to iron out is­sues which will ben­e­fit the or­gan­i­sa­tion and defuse the ten­sion in the of­fice.

In­stead of la­belling your boss, rather la­bel the be­hav­iour that is caus­ing the break­down in the work­ing re­la­tion­ship, while ex­press­ing how the be­hav­iour makes you feel.

“As an em­ployee, you should un­der­stand your­self and your boss in terms of your strengths, lim­i­ta­tions, needs and be­hav­iour. Use this to de­velop and main­tain a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship.”

“Have mu­tual re­spect, trust and un­der­stand­ing. Peo­ple spend most of their time at work, there­fore is it cru­cial that they learn to be tol­er­ant of one an­other. Ac­knowl­edge your boss’ ex­pe­ri­ence; he

or she may be long­ing to be lis­tened to as much as you also need to be heard. Re­mem­ber you can­not change yours or your boss’s per­son­al­ity, but you can learn to ac­cept it.”


Per­tu­nia fur­ther ex­plains that it’s okay to feel ner­vous or un­com­fort­able when some­one doesn’t like you, but those feel­ings won’t kill you.

In fact, the more you prac­tice tol­er­at­ing those un­com­fort­able feel­ings, the less dis­tressed you’ll feel, es­pe­cially in your work­place, and the more men­tal strength you’ll de­velop.

“The de­sire to be liked often stems from a va­ri­ety of ex­ag­ger­ated neg­a­tive thoughts. For ex­am­ple, if you think your boss doesn’t like you, the thought of be­ing suc­cess­ful will only in­crease your anx­i­ety. Learn to take note of your self-talk, es­pe­cially at those times your in­ner voice be­comes down­right self-de­struc­tive,” says Per­tu­nia.


Per­tu­nia ex­plains that you can still treat oth­ers with kind­ness and re­spect with­out go­ing over­board.

Show­er­ing your boss with in­sin­cere com­pli­ments or false ac­co­lades could do more harm than good.

“Con­duct­ing your­self pro­fes­sion­ally may change your boss’s per­cep­tion of you,” says Per­tu­nia. “Co­op­er­ate, work dili­gently, be re­li­able, com­mu­ni­cate openly and ef­fec­tively and use time and re­sources ef­fec­tively. Learn to take feed­back from your boss pos­i­tively and use it to en­hance your de­vel­op­ment.”

She says both you and your boss have to work on the work­ing re­la­tion­ship and make it work.

Per­tu­nia ex­plains, “It is im­per­a­tive that both par­ties re­alise the ben­e­fits of a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship and work to­wards achiev­ing that.”

“A boss should be con­cerned about the well­be­ing of his or her sub­or­di­nate, al­low them to voice out their opin­ions, en­cour­age open and ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and build good work­ing re­la­tion­ships.”

Per­tu­nia says even when you are em­ployed, try to avoid dis­cussing the is­sue between you and your boss with colleagues or the next man­ager be­cause that may make it worse than it al­ready is.

“Do not bad­mouth your boss to colleagues; keep your re­spect for your boss re­gard­less of his or her ac­tions to­wards you. If you are the one who is wrong, apol­o­gise, it makes you the big­ger per­son,” she ad­vises.


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