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From dream job to nightmare

Glenford Smith
Career Writer

"I am looking for a job," Janet* said. My companion and I were a bit taken aback.

"But aren't you in a wonderful job, good position, wonderful pay, what more could you want?" we asked incredulously.

"You don't understand," she replied, "I've had it up to here with my boss! I just can't work with someone like her. She's even taking my ideas and presenting them as her own, can you believe her?"

It was a surprise. Here was a very successful executive highly paid and, up to now, she was enjoying her job. Then the story unfolded.

Her 'new' boss was at the same level as she was, but had recently been promoted, and was intent on proving who was really 'the boss'.

Then came a constant dose of critical reviews, questioning of Janet's work and, soon thereafter, the pot of frustration slowly started to boil. Her dream job was becoming a nightmare.

common experience

Unfortunately, Janet's experience is all too common. You land the ideal job, a new hire becomes your boss, you get transferred to a new department; or someone in your department gets promoted over you.

The high hopes you had for your new job are dashed. Your supervisor is unappeasable.

The constant tension between subordinate and boss often results in resentment, lack of cooperation and career unhappiness, usually for the underling.

One of the first responses is the resistance phase, to try to change the boss, to let him or her see things 'the right way'. This usually doesn't work.

You usually prove that, whatever you resist will persist, and a person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

Next is the resentment phase - anger at the boss, complaining to anyone who will listen and professional sabotage, if one can get away with it. This phase also includes subtle attempts at undermining the boss' authority and sullying his or her reputation - for the more bellicose subordinate.

Finally, comes the removal phase - seek a new job, get away from this 'evil monster'.

These are understandable reactions to emotional hurts, frustrations and aggravations. Even highly intelligent people can lose their cool and lash out in anger.

Don't do it.

emotional intelligence

Exercise what psychologist Dr Daniel Goleman calls emotional intelligence, instead. Master your feelings. Don't make a rash career decision when you're upset.

Understand that regardless of what your boss says or does, you have the power of response. You can choose how to interpret the boss' behaviour, and what you will do. Nurturing your career is priority. don't be distracted from doing an excellent job. Don't waste time and energy trying to change others, or proving yourself right.

Keep this in mind, bosses come and bosses go, they don't stay forever. Your aim is to enjoy your dream job, until you decide to move on. Refuse to allow other people's hellish attitudes to determine your personal destiny. Janet has been doing just that, fortunately.

* Name changed. Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and personal achievement strategist.
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