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Difficult Boss or Difficult Customer?

Last week someone asked me for coaching on how to handle a difficult boss. When they described their behaviour I realised they were having to deal with an old friend (metaphorically speaking), the “Time Bomb”. Cue the dramatic music.

A Time Bomb is easy to spot – here are some clues. You are likely to experience:

  • Their nit-picking – nothing ever seems good enough
  • Them exploding (hence the nickname) for no apparent reason
  • A feeling of being under personal attack

And for good measure they are often sarcastic!

They sound awful, so why did I refer to them as an old friend earlier? Because whether they’re your boss or your customer, along with the tough bits come some bonuses that make it worthwhile having a strategy to work with them.

The upsides of working with a Time Bomb are that:

  • They sing your praises to other people. But you won’t know that as they won’t tell you how good you are directly
  • If you’ve done everything right they are fiercely loyal to you
  • Under the surface they are deeply caring (hard to believe at times!)
  • Your competitors or colleagues give up because they don’t know how best to work with them

And the strategy is simple:

  • Keep up your high standards
  • No surprises and don’t confront them in public
  • If they do explode, allow them to finish exploding before being clear and concise in what you want to say
  • Don’t take it personally, everyone has the same experience

It may not seem fun but it’s very rewarding!