You have a difficult boss and at times he is acting like a child. How to treat him? What do you do when a toddler is boring or being a nuisance? You will probably treat him like a toddler. It works the same way with your “horrible boss” when he behaves in a toddler-like manner. A good way to get the adult man back is to apply certain techniques, which I am going to explain below.
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Bosses, managers, CEOs, whatever the name: their behavior can be assertive, childish or even toddler-like. How do you recognize toddler-like behavior in the person who manages you on a day-to-day basis? Just look at the following symptoms:
You can get a passive-aggressive sneer thrown at your head, swank (“look how good I am”) , teasing, unrealistic demands ( “I want it and I want it now!”), impulsive and capricious actions ( “Let’s just agree on this course of action ‘), stubbornness and does not listen to reason, aggressive territorial behavior ( “This is my customer” or “That’s your problem”), unpredictable rages, the expectation of miracles, asking constant attention and confirmation or just a lot of whining and complaining.
These are all ways that your boss (suddenly) can manifest himself as a toddler.
Or maybe you even have to deal with much worse and more extreme situations and they are dealt with elsewhere on this website.
Where does this behavior come from?
Although your boss’ actions can look extreme or even absurd, they are unfortunately not unique. A boss who can suddenly change from a normal adult to an unreasonable toddler is more common than you think. And this can be psychologically explained. They often are under great pressure and are constantly on edge and therefore easily triggered.
The trigger is, as with toddlers, mostly stress and lack of control. When they lose control over a situation, very normal-looking bosses can suddenly transform and act very irresponsibly.
They are accustomed to getting what they want, based on their dominance and past experiences. Sometimes they act differently, but if there is also a lot of pressure and stress involved, it could all very easily get out of hand. Then the toddler should be sent upstairs.
How do I get my boss to act normal again?
Nobody will say this is easy, but it still can be done: if toddler-like behavior is rampant in your office then it is time to get your boss back to normal. And you’re the only one that can change the situation. Your boss is most probably not going to change by himself, or can at all understand his own behavior – unless you act.
Experts have concluded that: “It is impossible to keep the actions of your boss under control, but you can at least change how you react to it.”
What should that response then look like? By applying a technique developed by workplace experts specializing in the relationship between employee and employer. An easy-to-remember method consisting of four things you can do (combined) in order to get the toddler out of the door.
These are the four techniques:
Manage the case. Take yourself in control and make yourself heard. Manage expectations of your boss and set your own boundaries clearly. Do it all assertively and in a diplomatic way exactly as you expect your boss to behave. Be a better person.
“I suggest that I will put some pressure on the customer – and you can then level with them or discover if they have a different approach. We then look at how the final deal could be negotiated. “
Keep the lines between you and your boss always open. You could join him and his toddler behavior, but keep the interaction going right. Stay open, honest and sincere. Acknowledge that you hear what he says, or want to share.
“Okay, you now want to take a completely different approach. I understand what you mean.”
Instead of going quiet, you will jump in. Not to stoke the fire, but to come up with solutions. Act immediately if you smell a rat, approach your boss, stay assertive and come up with solutions to the problem behaviors that you see.
“I understand what you mean. But I do not think that such a fickle approach is the right thing here. I am convinced that it is better for this customer to stick to our original plan, even if it upsets him initially. “
Humor is always a good diversion. Especially when tensions run high, this is the key to defusing the situation. A joke takes the pressure off and breaks down walls between you and your boss. It will form the basis for (recovered) assertive communication. I have personally seen that this really works in many situations.
Conclusion and recommendation
Your boss may at times be an annoying toddler, even a horrible boss, but he is and remains a man with behavioral and communication problems that can occur under high pressure. You should never personally floor him, however tempting and easy it could seem to be in certain situations.
Most bosses are simply individuals who have been promoted because they were good at the function they exercised previously. But that does not mean that they have the skills to be a good and effective leader.
If there is a lack of proper leadership skills and toddler behavior arises, there is a problem that needs solving by your boss himself, but where you can make a difference is by approaching him using the four techniques given and opening his eyes where possible about his own behavior. If you are not successful, then in any case you have done the best you can in order to remedy the situation.
In this case, you might want to leave this position or even this company and find other employment, however, always have the chance to experience the same type of boss again.
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4 thoughts on “How to deal with a Difficult Boss – Treat him like a Toddler!”
In my opinion “managers” are overrated. Coming from a management background myself I always conducted myself in a professional manner to subordinates and superiors alike. When a superior displays infantile behaviour, all I do is maintain my professionalism and let him know in a very subtle yet professional way that he is in a work environment as he needs to set an example. One would obviously do this when alone with him for the sake of not embarrassing him. Respect is earned and not handed out willy nilly.
Agreed, and I wish there would be many more managers thinking like you. Alas, a lot of managers are just there for themselves and definitely not for the company. It is correct to let them know of their behaviour in a personal discussion where a businesslike and professional attitude is required. You will know that you are in trouble when this method does not work or even has the opposite effect. The next step then would be to go and talk to his boss, whilst knowing that going over his head is a tricky thing. In order to protect yourself and your health, it is always better to know exactly what situation you are in. If you can live with it, ok, if you cannot there are many things you can do. This website attempts to help people out of these situations, one way or the other.
Hey, Jerry, this is an interesting proposition. Some of the bosses that I had before, were there because he knows how to flatter HIS boss and is always a YES man.
When he becomes a boss, he expects the same treatment and maybe that’s why he will behave like a toddler. And most of the time they are incompetent. That’s why when faced with pressure, they get stress up and in return, we get stressed. So, your tips on how to handle this type of bosses will be useful to all of us. Thanks for sharing.
So many people sit in these bad situations and I want to give them a handle in how to turn it around. I want you to believe that the boss is not always right and that there are many ways to improve your position. This website wants to reach out and fight back, before you get caught up, get stressed or even sick. Cheers, Jerry