Not everybody has the misfortune of having a boss like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada, but most people have, from time to time, experienced the pressure brought on by having a boss with wildly high expectations. We all want to impress and preform well in our workplace, but some requests can push us a little too far.

Keep your cool and come out on top. The top 5 ways to handle your demanding boss.

1. Breathe

When we’re frustrated, the first thing we tend to do is tense up and rant. But, as you’ve probably noticed, this doesn’t get us very far. The first thing you absolutely must do when dealing with a difficult boss is to simply breathe. Taking three deep, diaphragmatic breaths after reading that long list of superhuman to-do’s that they just dropped in your inbox will help you both calm your nerves, and centre yourself.

A centred approach means a rational response.

2. Listen

The second most important thing you can do when dealing with a demanding boss is to listen. You may feel like they are repeating themselves, pushing you too hard, or on you like a hawk, but oftentimes these highly strung behaviours stem from feeling like they aren’t heard. Simply stop what you’re doing and listen. Repeating what they’ve said back to them, will let them know you have heard and understood them.

Say hello to a much happier work life.

3. Go the extra mile

One of the simplest ways that you can appeal to a highly demanding boss is by rising to the challenge. Do those extra reports, call that extra client, bend where necessary and push the boat out. Sometimes leaders push to get the results they need. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but give them those results and they’ll reward you by backing off.

If you just can’t follow through, be sure to let them know using these 5 simple tips.

4. Stand your ground

If spinning thirty plates all at once while riding a unicycle through a ring of fire just isn’t good enough for your demanding supervisor, stop what you’re doing and stand your ground. Personality clashes and pressure to meet targets is one thing, but working yourself to the bone is another.

Know your limits and be firm if your boundaries are being crossed. Your emotional and mental wellbeing are just as important as your physical health – if you’re being overworked, say so. Over the holidays we took some much needed R&R, but these tips will see you through almost any stressful work period.

5. Intervention

If all else fails, ask for help. Sometimes difficult and demanding bosses are too much to handle alone and feeling like you’re working for a ticking time bomb is no way to work. Talk to a colleague you trust or take the issue higher if you’re not being heard and confront the situation with grace and discretion. Be careful to avoid gossiping and moaning around the office, you’ll only make your life harder in the long run. Keeping your grievances as private as possible allow for everyone to save face. Just remember, it’s never too late to ask for help if you really need it.

Sage Words

Of course, nothing trumps good, honest communication. We all like to say our piece and we all need to be heard. If you’re both intentionally and mindfully listening to the other, you’ll be able to get through any difficult patch.

Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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