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Working with a Bad Boss

A reader writes:

My question is how do I learn to be compassionate for someone who isn’t doing the same for me?

I experienced what I can only describe as bullying from my former boss in my  last work place and had to leave. I tried to show loving kindness to my previous boss and calmly stood my ground but nothing changed.  I  left and took a fixed term contract just to get out of the situation and now my contract is nearly up. As a result I need a reference but my former boss has refused to do more than acknowledge I worked there. Although we had our differences I feel that I did a lot of good in my job and I believe this is an unfair response on his part. I can of course ask someone else for a reference and his actions will not prevent me from getting another job but I feel that his actions are unfair and I have felt at various points like I should get angry or comfort him about his actions even though I know all of this is futile. I realize of course that the only thing I can change is my perception.

Can you or your readers advise some meditation practice or teaching that might help me get past this?

My response:

Some bosses are wonderful people, while others have “issues.” There’s nothing you can do about it. If this was some simple misunderstanding, you could talk to him and work it out, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. He simply doesn’t like you. Probably in his eyes, you have done something wrong. Whether you agree on this point or not is irrelevant.

Buddha once said, “The more you wrestle with a turd, the more it stinks.” OK, that wasn’t really Buddha, it was my grandma. Still, it’s good advice. He’s got some kind of grudge against you, and has held that grudge for more than a year. It’s not going away. It’s time to move on from that situation. Get your reference from someone else in the company, get one from your temporary position, and focus on getting a new job rather than convincing this guy to like you.

You are right when you say you can only change your own perception. It sounds like the one not letting go here is you. Why are you so attached to having this person approve of you? If you actually did something wrong, then you need to accept it and deal with the consequences. If you didn’t then it’s his grudge, not yours. Let it go. Don’t be attached to anything, much less someone else’s opinion of you.

Check out “The Muddy Road,” a story that applies here.

4 comments to Working with a Bad Boss

  • cat

    Thanks Brian,
    You gave me a lot to think about. I particularly appreciated your Grandmother s wise words and the Koan. I suppose I have been ” carrying the girl” for a few months. Infact I have a new job now so it’s totally irrelevant and I will never have to contact my ex boss again so I must just let it go as it is useless attachment. I will meditate on the koan and hopefully let it go.

  • Tina

    Thank you for this entry Brian, it helped me have a successful discussion on a difficult topic with a manager who does not have solid people skills.
    On another note, I am wondering as to the purpose of the post by Tom Woods with his link to Telcomil Intl Products and Services. It appears to be an attempt at business promotion, I hope that I am mistaken.

  • Dunno if it was promotion or not, but I deleted it since it didn’t say much.

  • Good points Brian!
    I agree, if you have a problem with your boss, why not approach them directly. But do this with respect. Remember at the end of the day they are still your superiors. If the problem is not solved then I guess it’s better to move out and find a new company to work with.