Psychology

Deal Tactfully With Your Moody Boss

Manisha Goel


In today's high pressure work environment, mood swings are quite common. People display frequent and unpredictable changes in mood, which makes difficult for others to work with them. If your boss is one of them, then you must be feeling like the victim of his/ her mood swings.

People facing mood swings feel all pumped up and excited one minute up and in the next minute they are down. There are times, that in which they are not willing to engage with others, or they have a bad attitude and appear confrontational or snappy towards others.

Compared to a boss that tends to be in a good mood all the time, a moody boss does not see the impact of his mood swings on others. Irrespective of what may be the reason is for their disturbed mind, such a behavior usually impacts the entire working environment These people miss out on opportunities to reflect mature behavior and a self-correct negative attitude.

So, here are some tips you can follow to manage with your moody boss:

1. Watch for pattern:

Spiking your boss's coffee with mood-altering pharmaceuticals is not an option, instead watch for patterns such as timing and triggers. See the storm coming and avoid over-reacting yourself.

If you're having difficulty determining his or her pattern, open a line of communication between yourself and your boss's administrative assistant (if they have one). Offer to help out your boss's assistant whenever you can, to show sincere gratitude for the tip-offs you get. If your boss does not have an assistant then the person closest to your boss will have the best reading of the current temperature - and the long-term forecast.

2. Limit your interaction if their mood is rubbing off on you:

Many factors associated with mood swings are out of your control and it is very difficult to avoid emotional contagion. So if possible, temporarily limit your exposure to his/her mood swings in case it is a short term issue.

Also, when he/she is in so called "low phase", try communicating him in writing. Resort to mails, official chatting platform, etc. so as to have lesser face to face interaction with him/ her. There are chances that over a written communication your boss might not be rude or brash and even if he is then you can document the same in case things escalate.

3. Keep your cool:

If you can't avoid facing your boss, whatever you do, just don't inadvertently mimic this management style to other staff members. When your boss's mood pendulum swings to the negative, be as calm as the sea. Remind yourself that he'll come back to being calm and composed eventually. Show a relaxed, in-control demeanor yourself. Lighten things through humor and distract the things that may jam the system.



4. Make sure it's not you:

Make sure you also reflect on your own mood and performance. Are you feeling upbeat about yourself? Are you meeting expectations? Some bosses can be moody towards employees when they are not performing to their standards, even though the boss may not have communicated the same to you clearly. So be proactive and figure things out on your own. Make sure that your boss's mood swings are not being caused by your deeds.

5. Don't take it personally:

If it is an occasional situation (and you've determined it's not just you that they're moody with), develop a way to bypass your boss's bad mood.

Take a walk, look at a favorite photograph, call a friend, sip a cup of coffee and move on. If the moodiness is chronic, either set up time to discuss the situation directly with your boss - it may be that he or she is unaware of the impact of their behavior - or if that is not practical, talk to a trusted colleague or supervisor about what you can do to mitigate the damage to your psyche.

In some cases you can also take it up with the Human Resource of the company so that they can intervene with pro-active steps.

6. Don't trigger mood swings:

Once you figure out your boss's mood triggers, don't add fuel to the fire just to meet a deadline or get something done. If tight turnaround time or bad news given out with no solution makes your boss lose temper then, just take note and be patient and more strategic.

7. Pick meeting timings carefully:

Figure out the best time to chat or check in with your boss. For instance, if you are in marketing department, approaching your boss near the end of a sales quarter may not be wise; especially, when he or she is often stressed with trying to meet the sales goals.

Ask or determine the right time to interact with your boss, so you avoid times when they might not be in the best of the spirits.

8. Don't confront the boss during a mood swing:

This is no time to rebel. If your boss has swung to the dark side, don't go on the offense with 'Why are you suddenly so angry?'

If you have a good relationship (read: friendly) with your boss, and all hell seems to have broken loose, you can certainly inquire about what's wrong but do that when things have cooled down! However, if his/her mood swings have become a common affair then the best way to deal with it is to better stay out of the whole thing, so as to ensure that you're not the target.



Photo by: Thinkstock Images
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