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Career Coach: Hot Tips on How to Deal with A Bad Boss

Everyone at one time in their career has or will deal with a bad boss. Pamela Kleibrink Thompson offers some hot tips on how to deal with them in this month's "Career Coach."

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

Many companies have at least one person who is hard to deal with -- and often it's the boss. The problem with bad bosses is that they can affect your self-esteem and confidence.

Often employers in the entertainment business abuse their employees and co-workers, because so many people want to work in the industry that employers think they can quickly find another person to fill the job. And, with entry level jobs, they often can. Fortunately, there are many, many entry-level entertainment jobs, which means you don't have to stick with a bad boss. If you do decide to stick it out, here are some techniques to make your work life easier.

Provide Feedback

A bad boss may not realize how bad he or she is. As calmly as you can, tell your boss that you cannot be as effective as you could be and that it is hard to stay motivated to do an outstanding job when you feel mistreated or unfairly criticized. The boss might not be aware that his/her communication style needs work. Give him/her a chance to change. Things may improve.

Do Not Feel Personally Attacked

If an ill-tempered boss loses his/her cool because things aren't going his/her way, don't feel hurt and resentful. Don't give him/her the power to make you miserable. He/she may need to vent his frustration on someone and anyone who is handy will do. Try to avoid being the target, but if you are, don't let it upset you. Recognize that the boss' tirade is not necessarily because he/she has a problem with you -- it could be something totally unrelated to you or even to work. He/she could just be in a bad mood. Treat the boss like a baby who is unable to communicate. Try to filter out the noise to hear the message.

Don't React to "Hot Buttons"

Be aware of emotional hot buttons. Are you overreacting to your boss' critical comments on issues particularly sensitive to you? What seems like a personal attack may be a legitimate criticism that deals with a touchy subject -- appearance, manners, punctuality, etc.

Earn Your Degree

You can learn from everyone. Ask yourself how you can grow from this experience. I had a terrible boss who instilled fear in everyone by yelling at them almost constantly. I was determined that if I ever supervised people that I would treat them respectfully. I discovered that employees will work much harder for someone who respects them and cares about them as human beings. Every situation allows you to learn something, even if it is what not to do.

Let Off Steam

Talk to a friend or relative, but not within your boss's earshot. Or write down your thoughts in a journal that the boss will never see. It will help you keep your head while the boss is losing his/hers.

Protect Yourself

I have a friend whose boss threatened violence. Unfortunately, this was a small company and there was no human resources department to intervene. I advised her to seek a new position right away and she quit her job to maintain her safety and health. If you have a boss who has threatened you, tell his or her supervisor and human resources immediately. If it's a tiny company and it's just you and him or her, take action quickly to find another job, even if it means you have to leave immediately. Don't let any boss threaten your safety and health.

Don't Expect Anything

You might be doing your job properly, capably, and responsibly. Under different circumstances you could be getting tons of recognition, but your boss seems oblivious to your efforts and just demands more. Recognize that you may never be able to please an unreasonable boss.

Determine Your Tolerance:

Determine how much mistreatment you are willing to take and whether the trade-off is worth it. How much are you learning? How many contacts are you making? Will this position lead you in the right direction or connect you to the right people? Not everyone in the entertainment industry abuses his/her employees. Long hours and demanding bosses are typical in the industry, but there are many bosses who don't abuse their employees. You don't have to work for someone who screams at you first thing in the morning. Find another job if you are feeling too much stress from the one you've got.

Remember the boss is a human being with hopes, dreams and personality quirks. Don't put your boss on a pedestal or view him as a superior being. Bosses are as flawed and vulnerable as anyone else, even if they don't act like it. Don't give your boss a chance to exert undue influence or power over you or destroy your dreams.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. She will give a course at the SIGGRAPH conference on Monday, Aug. 6 at 3:15 pm on "Resumes and Demo Reels: If Yours Don't Work, Neither Do You." If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker, or recruiter, contact her at