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Disarming a Criticizing Boss

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A criticizing boss can turn your workplace into a nightmare where your self-esteem is constantly tortured and twisted. Some bosses micromanage, which is cause enough for an employee to find herself walking on eggshells to avoid criticism or second guessing. Other bosses might be perfectionists who find fault with everything, to the detriment of employee morale and performance. If you work for an overly critical boss, take steps to disarm him and regain confidence in your work.

Power and Control

Before you can disarm an overly critical boss, try and understand the motivation behind his behavior. Many overly critical people act the way they do because of power and control issues. They might be just as quick to offer a compliment if it feeds their need to be in control. This only serves to confuse staffers even more. Too much of this behavior can lower morale among team members and hinder their performance. A boss who enjoys wielding power for the sake of power might be insecure about his authority. Recognizing this can help you understand his behavior and gain a competitive advantage.

Stay Calm

The first step in overcoming a critical boss is staying calm. Your natural instinct might be to lash out, or to appear fearful. These are both gut reactions that will only generate a negative reaction from your power-wielding boss. Instead, keep your cool and remain professional to put your boss at ease. According to the Working World website, your calm, level-headedness creates a foundation of trust that will reduce the frequency and intensity of your boss' micromanagement over time.

Become an Ally

Bosses who spend a lot of energy criticizing others often do so because they believe they are fighting battles on their own. If you see this type of behavior in your boss, work to become her ally. Find out how you can help your boss succeed and make things easier for her. Let her know you are available to help with difficult projects or take some of her work off of her hands, if need be. This will reinforce your goal of building trust with your boss. It might also create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Deliver on Time

One of the best things you can do to avoid criticism is to deliver your work on time and meet or exceed your expectations. Do not miss deadlines and always put your best foot forward. If your boss has questions about your methods, answer them and provide explanations for the way you do things. Provide data showing how your methods have benefited the team and the company. Arrive promptly to work and be willing to stay late if necessary to ensure your work is complete. This will give your boss fewer reasons to criticize you and improve your overall work environment.


Aanya Rose has been writing since 1998. Her work has appeared in "ADDitude," "Curl," "Diabetes Alternatives," "Fitness," the "Healing Path" and more. She has served as a channel manager for various websites and worked in consultation and training. Rose holds a B.S. and Ph.D.

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