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Dealing With a Hellish Boss

No matter what kind of tyrant you're working for, these strategies will make your day a bit less painful

The Screamer
He flies off the handle at the slightest provocation. Why? Oprah or Dr. Phil would tell you his anger is an emotional response to outward stimuli — a fancy way of saying he gets ticked off when your actions fail to meet his expectations. Your only hope is to get out of the way.

Don't: Attempt to calm the screamer down, rationalize with him, or — as much as you might want to — take a swing.

Do: Keep your cool and wait for the right moment to revisit the issue when he's feeling more mellow.

The Passive-Aggressive
The scariest thing about this devil of a boss is his unpredictability. He can shift moods right before your eyes. He's also the master of hitting you with rage and insults — and smiling while he does it.

Don't: Turn your back on him. You must always be wary so you're not taken in by his sometimes charming behavior.

Do: Respond with caution to everything he says and does. Observe his behavior so you can figure out the kinds of things that seem to trigger him or set him off.

The Arrogant Jackass
This boss exhibits a sense of entitlement, demeans anyone in a position beneath him, and spews an incessant string of comments about how great he is. It's like working for the biggest prick you know.

Don't: Try to one-up him — this is his game and he knows how to play it better. Don't bother competing with him either — you'll never win.

Do: Ignore him. An SOB thrives on an audience and the attention it brings. Therefore, silence is the kryptonite you need to completely deflate him (and make your life tolerable).

Malcolm O. Munro is a career coach and business professor at Strayer University in Virginia.

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