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Jeruba's avatar

What do you have to do in your head to work for someone you view with contempt?

Asked by Jeruba (51372points) January 26th, 2009

At both the first and second level, I’ve had weak managers and strong managers, some I loved and admired, a couple of managers I viewed pityingly, and one I just didn’t much like personally. I’ve always found a way to get along, and I’ve been able to hold them in some respect if not high regard.

But I am struggling now because my second-line manager is a person for whom I have no respect whatsoever, a deceiving, unprincipled schemer who takes a condescending view toward most, coddles a few toadying favorites, and mistakenly thinks he is a good bit smarter than everyone around him. Until my number actually comes up in the layoff lottery, I have to work under this person’s rule.

Any advice as to what to tell myself in order to do what I have to do every day while keeping my contempt for this person in check and under wraps? My attitude is spilling over into my work and hastening the day. I am not yet ready to lose my job, and there’s noplace else to go.

[Edit] That last truncated topic said ‘getting along with contemptible delusional dishonest incompetent petty potentates.’

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22 Answers

peyton_farquhar's avatar

As long as you treat your manager with more respect than with which he treats you, you can always claim the moral highground. Take comfort in knowing that you are above the influence of his antics.

Snoopy's avatar

You need to keep telling yourself over and over again:

“This dipshit will not break me. I need this job. This is better than being unemployed….”

Suck it up and endure, if you must. Fly low under the radar. We’ve all been there….

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Take it a day at a time.

Mathew 6:34
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Bluefreedom's avatar

After 20 years in the military, I have had more than my fair share of supervisors and in the time, I’ve had a handful that would fall under the description that you described in your question details. Luckily I’m not in that position at the present time.

Teamwork is stressed very heavily in the military and what I did in the past was to align myself closely with my fellow sergeants (co-workers) and immerse myself in my work and not let corrosive influences (unprofessional and distasteful supervisors) interfere with my work ethic and responsibilities.

Try your best not to let your quality of work decline due to the immaturity and unprofessional behavior of your supervisor. You are better than that and you can prove that to yourself and your co-workers by holding your head high and not letting yourself be infected by your current dilemma. I wish the best for you during this difficult time and I hope everything works out in a way that benefits you the most.

basp's avatar

I have had that boss too. I just tried to do my job the best I could and concentrated on keeping out of trouble.

fireside's avatar

Generally, I have an attitude of service towards the company. If the guy above me isn’t pulling his weight and is just getting in the way, then I have to work around them.

Sometimes I can take it for longer than others…

elmagico's avatar

I’d like to quote the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard from the Wu Tang Clan:

“So take a sip from the cup of death
And when you’re shaking my right hand, I’ll stab you with the left”

Always smile when he looks at you but make rude gestures when he turns his back to you.

tinyfaery's avatar

Well, if finding a new job is not an option, or not something you want to consider, then aside from all of the things listed above, I would recommend trying to find something, anything that you might appreciate about this person, even if it isn’t work related. Then you can focus on that thing, whatever it is, when having to deal with him.

fireside's avatar

Sometimes I like to see the child inside others.
Once you can see their insecurities and understand that what they are doing is more a means of protecting themselves, it is easier not to take things they do personally and to ignore their foolishness.

peedub's avatar

@elmagico- I’d like to PayPal you 99ยข for quoting Mcgirt. Well said…

Bri_L's avatar

Die slowly. for 5 years until they fire you due to budget cuts only to laugh as they struggle because they didn’t realize, as they never do, as they had not with every other person they felt threatened by and let go, that you did to much to replace with only one person.

cdwccrn's avatar

Pray for him/her. It is hard to hate someone you are praying for. Worked for me. Blessings and good luck.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I tend to ask a lot of questions, couched in the context of, “I’m all about the work.” Feigned enthusiasm sometimes turns into the real thing.

skfinkel's avatar

I have a two-part and somewhat contradictory answer.

I have learned there is always someone impossible at every job. The last time this happened, I decided to make of this person a friend. It worked. She was not my boss though, but somehow clogged lots of things up. I was able to get my own job done, and avoid her road traps.

However, I also feel that if you are in a very real compromised situation at work, you should be extremely proactive about your life, and either create a job or find one, or go work with the peacecorps, or form a band or whatever. Working under the kind of person you describe is terrible, and life is short. I think that you lose some of your own goodness when you have to be subjected to continuing undermining every day. Just saw Revolutionary Road, which has this as kind of an under theme. It’s always better to take a risk, take a chance, live strong.

Good luck!

aprilsimnel's avatar

When I first read you description, I though, ugh, he sounds like David Brent from The Office UK. And then I laughed. What can you do? Sad people behave like your manager. Why go there with them? The more you focus on not liking him, the more power you give him in your mind Don’t do that. It’s not worth it.

What do you like about your job? Focusing on that may help. Also, make sure, if you have to keep this job, that you have other things outside of work to look forward to doing, like a fun group activity, so that your job isn’t this behemoth in your daily existence. And @fireside‘s idea to see that people behave as they do to protect themselves and isn’t personal is one I’m inclined to agree with too.

augustlan's avatar

My husband was in the same position as you, Jeruba until he got laid off on Friday. His boss was going a tad insane and making his work life miserable (understandable, as the guy’s company is going down fast), and what he did was to decide that he worked for his customers and employees, not for his employer. That only took him so far though, and he almost walked off the job several times. The only thing that stopped him was knowing that he would be laid off eventually, and if he could hold on ‘til then he’d be able to claim his unemployment benefits. If he walked on his own accord, he couldn’t. In this job climate, he wasn’t willing to risk that.

Good luck to you!

Trustinglife's avatar

@Jeruba Let this asshole inspire you! Every time you see him doing something despicable, let it redouble your efforts toward the exact opposite. See his arrogance – remind yourself to be humble. It could be a spur for your greatness, rather than just annoying. It would take a lot of self-confidence and self-reflection to pull this off. Try it.

dynamicduo's avatar

You are there to work, not to make friends. You are being paid money to do a certain job. That entails dealing with both great people and assholes. Focus on the tasks you need to do and don’t think about how stupid this person is. As long as you get your own work done, that’s all that matters. I find when I’m in positions like you are, if I pour myself into my work, not only does it get done but I stop dwelling on how uncomfortable these people make me.

wundayatta's avatar

I had a position like this, and my work got poorer and poorer, and eventually I was laid off. It was one of those blessing in disguise things. It enabled me to find a good boss.

I would suggest you don’t do it that way, but continue working while looking for another job. Then you can leave without giving notice, if you like (although, you never know when you’ll need someone, so I wouldn’t do that).

The other thing that might not be possible in your situation, but might be worth a shot, is to “manage your manager.” Every time you do something, or a new assignment comes around, or whatever it is you do, you act as if you are the manager (I mean privately) and make suggestions for how you think things should be done in such a way that your manager can say them, thinking it is his idea.

You lose credit for things, but you get to do things the way you want, if this works out. On the other hand, if people are at all perspicacious, they will know who really did the work, and it’ll earn you credit. Eventually this manager will be gone, and who knows, maybe you’ll get a chance at the job, if you want it.

maybe_KB's avatar

Its all about the $
It’s all about the $
It is all about the $

wundayatta's avatar

I used to think that, and I was dying because of it. It’s about your soul, too.

If people are willing to put up with uncongenial work, then employers will never change. If we walk, and keep walking until we find congenial work, employers will get the message.

I understand this is a pipe dream. Too many people feel too desperate to turn down anything. As I tell the grad students I advise, if you think like that, you’re going to end up unhappy. My student who sent out 100 applications, and was desperate to land a job is miserable. My student who sent out ten targetted applications loves her job. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

If you can afford it, insist on a job with a good fit. Even if you think you can’t afford it, keep that idea in the back of your mind.

garciaCIOnet's avatar

Consider this- Every person who has ever had a leadership position has been viewed by one or more people on the team as a “bad” leader.

The trick is to become a better leader. This happens through study, mentoring, but most importantly by learning from the people on the team.

My suggestion is to dedicate yourself to making the team successful. Be loyal but honest. Give your leadership team ideas that will contribute to the teams success. Stay constructive .

If you are not able to be professional, constructive and contribute because of disdain for the people around you, leave politics and find a new livelihood.

If it’s not fun, stop doing it !

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