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    Taming the toxic boss

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    Dealing with an unreasonable and unpleasant boss can become both draining and demoralising, but as James and Simon Brooke point out, there is an array of useful strategies you can adopt to help you cope with even the most toxic manager

    There?s little point in plotting against your boss ? it?s a waste of time and not a very worthy focus of your talents.

    If, for example, you feel your boss doesn?t respect you because they make unreasonable demands at short notice, it could simply be that they are disorganised, and would benefit from your help in managing their workload differently. It?s worth remembering that bosses are not exceptionally virtuous or particularly malevolent. In general, they reflect the population as a whole: mostly fallible human beings with the odd diagnosable sociopath thrown in.

    Try to be mindful. Mindfulness is about being self-aware. This will help you to put your boss?s behaviour into perspective ? and realise that it isn?t really about you. You probably don?t loom that large in their consciousness. Try to step back from your emotions so you can dispassionately assess their behaviour. This will not only make you feel better, it may also enable you to see things from a different point of view.

    Your boss is first and foremost a customer. As with any customer, it?s important to find out what motivates them and what their priorities are. Identify your boss?s likes and dislikes and think about what else you know about him or her. Then adapt your approach, as you would do for a customer. If they like a short report or update at the end of each day, you can do this for them. You may prefer to do it a different way, but tell yourself that it will be okay to do it their way. Focus on what is important to you both, navigate the relationship and most importantly choose your battles.

    An important point to remember when your boss is behaving badly is that they are only temporary; you will be able to move on and find a boss who is better for you.

    Try not to behave like a cave-dweller if your boss?s behaviour has the metaphorical effect of making you feel as if you?re being prodded with a big stick. Your instinct might be to fight against a personal insult, but take a deep breath, minimise the dramatic response and adopt an adult and business-like tone and manner.

    You may want to say something like: ?It doesn?t serve either of us well to get side-tracked into personal abuse. Let?s start again.? And if your boss is surly, quiet, or passive-aggressive, don?t reflect their behaviour by becoming quiet yourself; instead force them to face the issue by asking the question: ?I notice that you are unresponsive. Are you unhappy about something??

    Your boss should be able to offer guidance and advice, but if this is not happening you can look for help elsewhere. Some of the most resilient people have learned to be bulletproof by seeking out a mentor who has helped them through challenging times. Don?t be afraid to ask for help. Most people are flattered to be approached and may well have been through similar experiences. At the very least they will be able to offer you a different perspective on the issues you are dealing with.

    Try to remember that it?s not just Harry Potter who is at risk from soul-sucking monsters like the dementors. They lurk in most organisations. But with the right armoury at your disposal you can weather the attack and potentially come out stronger.

    Be Bulletproof by James and Simon Brooke is published by Vermilion and is available to buy at WH Smith, Waterstones and other good book retailers. It can also be purchased online from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions. For further information go to bebulletproof.net

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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson