From The Straits Times    |

Credit: Her World

One minute he would be personable, sharing Netflix recommendations and places to check out over the weekend, the next he would point out my tiniest mistakes and control my every move.

He was gung ho at offering direction yet resistant to receiving advice. He wanted a say in how I crafted my emails and messages, even dictating what exact words to write on a powerpoint slide. He chose who I had to spend my lunch hour with and kept tabs on everything (down to my toilet breaks!). I both disliked him but desperately craved his validation.

He was my supervisor. And I spent close to two years in what in hindsight was a toxic relationship that allowed him to chip away at my self-worth and ensnare me in a constant state of fear.

Eventually, a position that I was interested in opened up in another department within the company. And I was granted an internal transfer.

If you’re dealing with a difficult boss right now, my heart goes out to you. It can really drain the enjoyment from what might have been a fulfilling job. Before you start planning your exit strategy, here are some lessons that I’ve learnt from my “not so inspiring” manager that will hopefully help you to regain control of your work and life.

Channel good vibes only

As hard as it may be, continue to stay upbeat and proactive in the workplace. Demonstrate your abilities and rebuild your confidence by contributing to various projects and initiatives in the firm and building relationships with your colleagues and managers from other departments. Don’t forget to celebrate small successes! Not only will you pick up new skill sets along the way, you might even get offered a new role or opportunity.

Find your purpose and people

You might spend most of your waking hours at work, but if you’re feeling unfulfilled, there are other avenues that you can turn to.

Sign up for an online course if you feel like you’re not getting enough training in a certain area or field. Unless your contract says otherwise, there’s also the option for you to pursue a freelance gig or side hustle.

Finally, surround yourself with a core group of people at and outside of work who will support and uplift you. You can also chat with a therapist, career coach or a trained professional.

Try and take a different perspective

It is often said that everyone comes into our lives for a reason. Good people bring you happiness. Bad people give you experience. And well, the worst ones teach you lessons.

In those dark times of working for my tyrannical boss, I made it a point to document things he did that didn’t sit well with me. Every night, I’d think of how I would do things differently if faced with similar situations in the future. For me, this mindset shift became an empowering coping mechanism. It transformed my anger and exasperation into something positive. I made it my mission to problem solve and come up with solutions and ways to avoid making the same mistakes. And it wasn’t long before I started putting these things into practice, with the people I worked with at my new department.

While I’m not encouraging you to stay in an abusive work environment any longer than you absolutely have to; discovering what not to do if you’re ever put in a position of power can be just as insightful to your personal and career development.