The Relationship Blog

Dealing With A Difficult Boss – Dr. Bruce Derman, Relationship Counseling Woodland Hills

What About An Employer Who Is Constantly Picking On The Employee & Making Work Difficult – How Do You Respond To That?

I run into this many times. What makes it difficult is because the typical response is to object to the boss, or tell them not to talk to them in a particular way. But the person is the boss, so there is an existing hierarchy. Instead, I support the people to use the down movement and give themselves permission to go down. In this example, I would have the client say to the boss “It seems like you’re very dissatisfied with me. That there is nothing I can do that can please you.” Once you do that, the boss has only 2 choices. The first choice is that he can confirm that you are correct and you cannot satisfy him. Then you can ask “Given that I can’t satisfy you, what would you like me to do?” Now the employee is controlling the conversation. Or the other response the boss might say is that “No, I am pleased with you.” Now the boss has affirmed the employee, but the employee never asked the boss to do that. The boss gave that to the employee. As a result, the employee wins either way, because he’s willing to do the movement that is called for. Very few people are willing to approach their boss and admit openly that it seems they can’t satisfy the boss, or are disappointing them. I support all my clients to have that courage and do that as the most effective way to deal with the kind of boss described above. If you’re willing to do that, you can control and deal with that kind of boss. And there are a lot of bosses like that. But if you fight, can’t stand that you’re disappointing them, and that you can’t stand that you’re not satisfying them, then you’re trapped. When you’re trapped you’re going to do something defensive, and you’re going to react to the boss.

In the way I support my patients in dealing with the example above, there is no reactivity. It’s just a natural action. There is nothing defensive about my approach. 99% of the people that come to me with this example, their reaction is always defensive. And they get “killed” due to this way of protecting themselves and when they take it home with them,  it manifests as something else that is negative in their life.

Author: Bruce Derman Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and offers relationship counseling in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica, California who specializes in working with people in all stages of relationships. You may reach Dr. Derman by calling (818) 375-7194.

For more information on relationship counseling in Los Angeles, contact Dr. Bruce Derman PH.D. at

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