Keep calm and carry on.
Horrible bosses can be well, terrible to deal with. But all is not lost. Singaporean office ladies tell us how to low-key navigate this tricky work situation depending on the kind of person you’re facing.
1. The Hulk
Explodes suddenly and often, but the anger dissipates quickly.
The Fix: Offer an olive branch
“The good thing about my boss is that he’s willing to be appeased once his temper quells,” says Chen Zhenhui, 33, a lawyer. “I tell him that I understand why he was upset and show him what I’m doing to fix things.” Most importantly, never talk back.
Adopt the in-one-ear-and-out-the-other mantra, keep calm and carry on. In a worst case scenario? “I schedule a last-minute ‘client meeting’ so my eardrums don’t burst,” shares Yuan Suyin, 25, a banker. “Then, I bring breakfast for my colleagues the next day for taking one for the team.”
2. The Ice Queen
Cold and frustratingly inscrutable, even when furious.
The Fix: Take the lead to thaw the ice
“I take the initiative and check in with my boss often, especially when I suspect that he’s angry,” says Lynn Chang, 26, a marketing executive. Remember that you may never penetrate that heart of ice fully, so pick your battles.
Lynn adds that she has stopped bothering with small talk after realising that her boss wasn’t interested in being friends. “I just stick to work updates, and try to always have something positive to report.”
3. The Insecure One
Feels threatened by younger upstarts (i.e. you), consequently resenting them and giving them a hard time for no good reason.
The Fix: Don’t fan the flames
Nothing irks this breed more than seeing staff gossiping and giggling quietly in a corner – she will assume you’re talking about her. So keep idle chit-chat to a minimum and stay professional.
“My new boss felt the need to assert her authority at every turn. I made sure I behaved beyond reproach and tried to make her feel important by asking for her opinion on work matters. That helped, but ultimately, this was an internal issue she had to fix. I jumped ship the instant I found a better opportunity,” says Cheryl Teo, 30, a digital analyst.
4. The Passive-Aggressive Monster
Usually exhibits sarcastic behaviour and employs low-blow insult tactics when riled up.
The Fix: Take the high road
Don’t get sucked into the vortex of sarcasm, and never let this type bait you. “I force myself to think of the great dinner I’m going to have afterwards and refuse to let my boss ruin my day,” says Stella Chang, 34, a gallery director.
5. The Control Freak
Micromanages and gets unnaturally bothered by the tiniest, insignificant details.
The Fix: Fight fire with fire
Unlike other bosses who just want you to leave them alone, this one doesn’t mind you constantly harassing him with updates. Do so. “I take project updates to a whole new level. I present my boss with so many details that he’s overwhelmed and has no choice but to just let me get on with my work,” says Genette Koh, 35, a trainer.
The bright side: some bosses micromanage because they don’t trust their subordinates to get work done, so by presenting yours with an onslaught of reports, you’re bound to go some way in assuaging those fears.
6. The Dictator
Rules with fear and an iron fist.
The Fix: Strength in numbers
“If I know my boss is in a bad mood, I never meet one-to-one with him. I always make sure that a co-worker is around as a buffer and to mediate things at the first signs of an escalation,” says S. Wong, a 33-year-old researcher. “I also make sure that I cover my bases and have all the answers to possible questions before I meet him.”
This story was first published in the January 2017 issue of Her World magazine.