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There are few relationships as delicate as the one between boss and employee. A good boss can encourage you and push you to new heights; a bad one can make the workday miserable. There are all kinds of bad bosses, from screamers to micro-managers. There are also bosses who are so dismissive of you as an employee that you begin to feel insignificant. Fortunately, there are techniques that can help you outsmart a dismissive boss.
Treat your boss as though he has your future in his hands. As you are implementing a plan to deal with the boss who finds no value in your efforts or opinions, treat him like he's the greatest boss ever. You don't have to gush, but be polite enough that he has no idea that his behavior bothers you. This is the person who will take part in deciding your raises and bonuses. He may also serve as a reference, should you ever decide to change departments or jobs.
View your boss' dismissive nature as a weakness. Your boss is human and subject to frailties. His dismissive behavior can be a symptom of a number of weaknesses, including poor communication skills, insecurity regarding his own job performance, disorganization and jealousy. Whatever the underlying reason for the unprofessional behavior, it's his problem. It's easy to feel as though his problems have become your problems, but that's only the case if you allow it to be true. You can't control his behavior — but you can control your reaction to it. Continue to perform your duties to the best of your abilities.
Try paradoxical behavior. If you've ever heard the phrase, "Zig when they expect you to zag," you've been exposed to the paradoxical ideal. While it may feel counter-intuitive, go to your boss for clarification regarding your job; listen to everything he says as though it's gospel; treat your job as though you enjoy every moment of it. It will not likely be the way you're feeling, but will let your boss know that you're determined to perform your job in a professional manner, regardless of his behavior.
Do not gossip. As tempted as you may be to vent about your awful boss to friends and co-workers, don't. Gossip will not serve to correct the problem, will make you appear unprofessional in the eyes of other employees, and will undermine your ability to find success in your job.
Speak directly with your boss. Regardless of how uncommunicative, unkind or unprofessional your boss acts, it's up to you to take the high road. Schedule a time to meet with her and tell her that you're uncomfortable with the communication gap that currently exists between you. Let her know that you respect her and enjoy your job, but think that you would be more productive with her guidance. Ask her what you might do to perform your job in a manner that would be pleasing to her and if she has any advice to offer. Put the ball in her court, and wait patiently while she answers.
Take notes. While you're busy being polite, professional and direct, you should also be keeping notes of your boss' behavior. While it's more difficult to pin down abuse when it involves dismissive behavior as opposed to something like screaming tantrums, make a note of each time you addressed your boss with an idea or question and were dismissed. If, after speaking with your boss, you begin to hear that she's defaming you, try to get written comments from co-workers of what has been said. What she is doing is illegal, and you might want to consult an attorney.
Dana Sparks has been a professional writer since 1990. As a staff reporter, she has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and she is also the author of two published novels. Sparks holds a Bachelor of Arts in business.