“Grin and Bear It” Doesn’t Work with a Bully Boss

Working for a Bully Boss is hard and, unfortunately, so relatable. We’ve seen the Bully Boss portrayed in movies and shows as the incompetent idiot to the raging lunatic. And you know why those movies and shows are so popular? Because everyone can relate to the Bully Boss experience to some degree.

I certainly am one of them. For some reason, I’ve had more than my fair share of Bully Bosses (both men and women), from the manager who didn’t know how to speak at a normal volume (read: I was always yelled at) to the one who changed department goals overnight without communicating them to the team. It can feel like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions with no clear direction to find your way out.

It’s exhausting. It challenges your self-esteem. It inspires self-doubt. It impacts the way you show up to work and the way you show up to your relationships outside of work. And worse, these Bully Bosses always make you feel like you are the problem.

Working for a Bully Boss is hard.

And though others may try to offer to help, the options presented are always one of two things: make a change or suck it up.

Sometimes, making a change isn’t an option due to a variety of reasons, so it leaves people little choice but to grin and bear it.

But this is important: accepting a “grin and bear it” attitude with a Bully Boss doesn’t work.

Here’s why:

  1. Your attitude changes. You try to protect yourself in some way, so you adopt an indifference approach to how you show up to work. In your effort to let the nasty and toxic behaviors roll off your shoulders, you unwittingly shut yourself off from everything else. You become a shell of yourself, lacking enthusiasm, dedication and, perhaps most importantly, your personality. You are disengaged and disconnected. The difficult things in life seem to rise to the top as your attitude has shifted from optimism to pessimism.
  2. Your work changes. When you adopt the indifference attitude, your work starts to suffer. You don’t go the extra mile or engage in new ideas that can generate great opportunities for you and the business. Instead, you do just enough to not get fired. You try to fly under the radar, delivering items as they’re due, and never before. You stop looking for ways to expand your career or develop yourself because you just want to get through the day, and that’s all you can think of. And sometimes, the harsh criticisms you get from the Bully Boss about the quality of your work start to materialize.
  3. Your home life changes. When you work for a jerk and feel defeated throughout the day, it’s hard to not bring that defeated attitude home. And whether it’s intentional or not, as soon as you become indifferent to your work, you start to become indifferent to many of the other things around you, even things you care most about. You start to lack energy and excitement for the things you really looked forward to and instead opt to just sit and rest. You feel tired more often and you disengage from your friends and family. Sometimes, you can even begin to recognize real health issues.

You can’t just grin and bear it when you work for a Bully Boss. It’s a cascading thing; they intrude into every part of your life if you let them.

So before you tell yourself to just “grin and bear it” and push through your day, stop and notice the person you’ve become. This can be an enlightening moment for you, if you let it.

Take Action
If you work for a Bully Boss or find yourself in a toxic work environment, ask yourself: am I staying true to who I am?

The person you are, at your core, cannot be changed unless you allow it. You control the direction of your life. If you can’t control a situation, you can control your response to it. Decide who you want to be without regard to who others are. You own you. Choose your attitude and your approach. It is empowering.

So, if your Bully Boss is impacting how you show up (to work and life), consider looking for new employment options. It might not happen overnight, but know when it is time. And, be sure to properly vet each new opportunity to avoid moving from one Bully Bos to another. Stay clear about who you are and how you will show up to the things in your work and life. Make changes as necessary. Your sanity and happiness is yours to create.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up and take our quiz Do I Work for a Bully Boss?

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Parents: Know When It’s Time to Take a Break

I’ve been burned out a lot in my career and nothing has compared to the pure burnout I’ve felt as a working parent over the past year. I think a lot of parents can relate. In fact, I’ve seen a slew of articles over the past few weeks that talk about parenting burnout and, in conversations I’ve had with friends and family, we’ve all come to the same conclusion: DUH.

Though it’s encouraging to know we’re not alone in these challenging times, it’s equally as frustrating. Why is it that parents are expected to do so much and take on even more now when the world is spinning backward and upside down?

I asked myself this question a lot recently and I realized something very important. I used the word expected. It made me ask another question: who is expecting me to do all of this?

The answer was surprising: me.

I expected to work full time, while having all three of my kids home and stuck inside during the cold winter months. I expected to be able to have a healthy, home cooked meal on the table every night and see all of my kids eat it every time. I expected to have every household chore done so there was no dust build up and no one had to look for clean underwear or a specific pair of pants. I expected my kids to work through their challenges without resulting in a brawl every time.

I set these expectations. And when I couldn’t achieve them, I felt deflated, defeated and angry. I got short with people – my kids and husband especially. I wouldn’t answer the phone with my family called because I didn’t want to end up in a fight with them about something dumb.

I was tired and I was burned out because I created unrealistic expectations. I expected myself to be supermom when even a true superhero couldn’t achieve the things I had on my daily to-do list.

I know that every parent is in the same yet very different situation. We’re all trying to navigate working and childcare and home life. It’s HARD. And when we have these heavy expectations on our shoulders, it feels harder.

I’m challenging every parent to try something new this week: TAKE A BREAK.

Working through burnout in the working world is so different from burnout as a parent. At work, you take a break, literally. You leave for a few days. You logout. You disconnect.

But how can you take a break when your kids need you all day every day? How can you take a break when you’re balancing work calls with the next Zoom call for your Kindergartener who really shouldn’t be left unattended at the laptop? How can you take a break when everything (*gestures vaguely*) needs to get done?

Start here: breathe.

Starting from that breath, consider these tips to give yourself the break you need to work through parenting burnout in a mindful way:

  1. Recognize Control. You cannot have complete control over every single person, event or situation in your life. Not possible. You can, however, control how you respond to those things. I like to think of it like this: you can’t control a situation, but you can control how you respond to it. The bickering from your kids. The double-booked Zoom meetings. The baskets of laundry waiting to be folded and put away. If you are able to control it, do something about it. If you can’t control it, change your attitude about it.
  2. Change Your Attitude. Oof. Writing that made my head spin. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that growing up and how many times I say it to my boys. But here’s the truth: your attitude in any situation inspires your actions. If you’re angry, I bet you’re more likely to yell than to have a calm conversation. If you’re exhausted and defeated, you’re probably going to be short and avoid talking or dealing with something. Check in with yourself to see what your attitude is like and notice why you have that attitude. What inspired it? How productive is it? Are you more interested in venting or solving? That attitude will influence your thoughts and actions. Choose wisely.
  3. Give Yourself Some Space. You know when you need to separate the kids to give them some space from each other? It’s time you do that for yourself. Create a time or place where you get your space. Whether it’s for 10 minutes or 4 hours, commit to this. This is time for you to intentionally recharge without worrying about who is fighting or what work isn’t getting done. This is for you. The only way you can get here, though, is to see yourself and this space as critical to your mental health. In that space, have a list of things you do to create a moment of rest, Zen, peace or joy. This could include a connection to a hobby, a call to a friend, a favorite snack or beverage, journaling or even some time in nature. Remember that this space is for you to reconnect and breathe, not to ruminate on the things that still need to be done. Remember, you are worth it.

Take Action
Parenting burnout is the most extreme level of tired I’ve ever experienced in my life, and finding time to take a much needed break is hard. But when you commit to checking in with yourself, you’ll find that the flame that you thought was long gone is actually still there, just waiting for some fuel to help it grow bigger.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Your Check Engine Light

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How to Rally in Tough Times

There are some events in life that seem to knock the wind out of us. Things like a bad performance review at work or an unexpected job termination. Things like a foreclosure, a divorce or a tough diagnosis. These events feel personal. When they happen, we feel like we have been punched in the gut.

But, as the sun rises each day, we must also rise up and keep moving, regardless of how we feel. As we have seen throughout the pandemic, those who succeed are the ones who learn how to develop the stamina to deal head-on with what life sends and the grit to find a solution, even in the toughest of times. They rally because they know how to move past the challenges and see the opportunities. This empowers and engages them to keep moving forward.

As a Coach, I regularly engage with clients who are trying to reconnect to their mojo – to rally in tough times. Here is some of the advice and guidance I share.

  1. Shift your attitude to one that is about rebounding and taking action. Regardless of how it feels, remember that tough times are not personal. Life doesn’t have you in its crosshairs; it is what it is. This is an important realization to be able to move past the feeling of being a victim and start to identify your feelings. Why do you feel the way you do? Try saying it out loud to help you better understand it. Feelings inspire your attitude, which then affects your thoughts and actions, so make time to understand and acknowledge your feelings to be able to move past them. Once you’re clear about what you are feeling, check in on your attitude. Optimistic attitudes create the space to feel energized to deal with what needs to be done. Pessimistic attitudes just hold you back. Shifting your attitude to something more productive will help you refocus your thoughts and actions to things that are more productive.
  2. Refocus on the goal. Now with a more positive attitude, refocus or recommit to the goal. Clarity about what you want and need to achieve can inspire you to get back up and keep moving. See the value in your goal. Imagine what it will feel like when it is achieved and use this energy to get excited and rally.
  3. Engage your support network. Since life and work are tough, develop and rely on your support network to help you manage your attitude, to see things clearly and support you as you work to make things happen. The phrase, “none of us is as smart as all of us,” should serve as a reminder to you to engage with others to solicit ideas and new approaches. Your support network will be more inclined to support and help the optimistic version of you instead of the complaining, pessimistic you.

Take Action
On its best day, life and work are tough, even if we love what we do. Things happen that seem to sucker punch us or knock us down. It is in these exact moments that call on you to see that you have what it takes to understand, direct and respond in a way that makes the best out of what is happening. Stamina and grit are needed in today’s world. They are success skills.

Tune in to your feelings. Understand them. Shift your attitude to one that will support you. Get refocused on what you are trying to achieve and then engage others to help you rally and get back in the game. Then, as life sends other sucker punches (and it will), you will be more aware that you have what it takes to rally and persevere.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Go Center Yourself

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When the Glass is Half Empty

Sometimes, it’s human nature to feel down. To feel off. To feel like things just aren’t right. And that’s ok! I actually have this great book I read to my boys called My Many Colored Days and it explains how there are some days you just feel different. And it’s not good or bad, right or wrong; it just happens.

(For the parents out there, I highly recommend this read for your kids. Not only does it help kids understand that it’s ok to feel something other than happy all the time, it also helps to put their mood swings into perspective for you, as well.)

But sometimes, those moods linger and can turn someone into a cynic – a Debbie Downer. It may drive some people away, or it can encourage some of the well-intentioned people in our lives to say things like, “be positive!” or “it’s time to see the glass half full.”

Yet, despite efforts to share positive or inspirational sayings, these Debbie Downers still exist. They always seem to always operate under the assumption that life is, at best, a glass-half-full situation.

It got me thinking recently about the idea of self-fulfilling behaviors, the idea that because you ruminate on a thought or issue, you seemingly will it to be true. I know a few people who are always trying to find the positive in what life presents, eager to push forward. I also know more than a few Debbie Downers who believe that life is never going to be any better than it is right now, that they’ve been dealt a bad hand, that life is out to get them.  

For the former, they tend to find a way to make things work, to make things better, to make life what they want it to be. They don’t let the trials of life get them down. They don’t let themselves needlessly worry about things they can’t control.

For the latter, it becomes a game of “I told you. The bad luck finds me. This is what my life is like.” They are always worried, always critical, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. They feel they regularly earn their martyr status – constantly suffering or feeling that they are at the effect of things in work and life.

Consider this: life just happens – sometimes the events are great and sometimes they aren’t. That is just life doing what life does. Our false belief that life should always be happy comes from us thinking that life should always work out and make us happy.

But here’s the truth: the key to happiness is learning to make great things happen from what you get.

Life is what you make it. So is your glass half full or half empty? It is always your choice.

Take Action
When my Mom was a little girl, my grandfather used to tell her to “put your worries on the nightstand and go to sleep. They’ll be there in the morning; no use losing sleep over them.”

Imagine what life would be like if we put our worries on the nightstand at night, allowed ourselves to get some sleep, and woke up refreshed and renewed in the morning, ready to take on whatever life could bring. Imagine how changed you could be and how your changed behavior and attitude could impact those around you.

What if, just for a moment, you see the glass as half full?

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading To Change a Habit, Try Something Different

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