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Arrogance involves showing off and exhibiting a sense of superiority while putting others down. Dealing with arrogance in the workplace can be extremely trying, but it's not impossible. You can't always escape an arrogant boss, nor can you change someone else's behavior. But, by changing the way your boss affects you and monitoring and controlling your reactions, you may be able to survive an arrogant boss.
Understand Your Role
Having a clear understanding of your role – in writing – is one of the first steps you can take to manage an arrogant boss, says professor Stanley Silverman, dean of the University of Akron’s Summit College and University College. It's crucial that you know what's expected of you and what your specific duties are so you can draw on this information if you need to protect yourself. If your boss tries to criticize your work or put down your performance, you'll have documentation to support your role and contributions to the organization.
Don't Immediately React
Arrogant people often act the way they do because it gives them a sense of control and power. The wrong reaction can play a big part in reinforcing your boss's power trip, especially if you give him what he's after. An arrogant boss usually wants you to feel intimidated or for you to slip up and make a mistake. Even something like rolling your eyes when he speaks is enough to add fuel to his fire, and if you are thinking about criticizing his behavior, you might want to think again. Criticism is one of the biggest mistakes an employee can make when dealing with an arrogant boss, says Silverman. Try to stay calm and professional and avoid shooting from the hip, no matter how tempting. Keep a written record of your boss's attacks and criticisms for future reference.
Discuss Your Concerns
Discussing your concerns with an arrogant boss can be a scary proposition, but it might be helpful in resolving the situation. You have a right to work in a respectful workplace, and if your boss isn't fulfilling his end of the deal, he needs to be informed. This doesn't mean confronting your boss and starting a battle, however. It's best to schedule a quiet time to sit down with your boss and discuss the effects of his actions and comments on your work performance. Keep your statements as neutral and professional as possible – avoid personal attacks or emotional statements. In an article for Conflict911, marketing consultant Tristan Loo suggests using your boss's criticisms as a way to gain some common ground. Ask him what he would like you to improve or how the two of you can solve some of his concerns together.
File a Complaint
Despite your best efforts to manage the situation, your boss might still continue to engage in arrogant behavior. In such cases, you might consider filing a formal complaint, advises psychologist Guy Winch in an article for "Psychology Today." If you work in a large company and you suspect that upper management is unaware of your boss's behavior, contact your human resources department and your union representative to file your complaint. Include the documentation you've kept of your boss's unprofessional behaviors. If the situation does not resolve itself and you continue to feel distressed, you may wish to seek other employment.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.