The Antidote to Dealing With an Asshole Boss

The topic of changing people who don’t want to change has always fascinated me. I think, to a great degree, this fascination was nurtured by success.

We all know the truism. If you ask most people if you can change people who don’t want to change, they’ll probably say ‘no.’ But what if you can change people who don’t want to change? What if even the biggest assholes can become respectful? I suggest the tools most people are using to try to influence people to change are not working!

KCI is conducting a study to find out what excellent leaders out there are using in order to get people, especially those who don’t want to cooperate, to make needed adjustments (let us know if you are interested in taking part in the study or if you wish to get the report!). Until we have some statistics, however, I thought I’d share my personal experience in dealing with assholes.

The best combination I find is to:

  • Don’t allow the attitude of assholes to affect you: the behavior and, for lack of better definition, the ‘energy’ of assholes has a strong impact on most people. How do you respond? In my experience, if you are changing who you are, even in the slightest, as a result of interacting with an asshole you will lose the ability to influence them. It’s not about being firm or soft, it’s more about sending a message that the abusive behavior has no impact on you. This isn’t easy for everyone, but there are great Key Strategies you can acquire that will help you be yourself no matter what.
  • Avoid trying to be liked: Assholes are highly suspicious. Compliments are an immediate turn off. An attempt to help them is perceived as an attempt to diminish them (they are not weak hence they don’t need help). Be very matter-of-fact with them. Unless they directly talk to you, ignoring them is usually a great strategy too. Generally speaking, assholes respect strength and they have their own unique definition for what strength is. Find it and follow it.
  • Identify their missing Key Strategy: Assholes are usually in a self-diminishing, minimizing-of-others cycle. Start with supporting them out of their self-diminishing patterns. They won’t share these with you directly until they trust you, but you can  find examples of other people who  either accept themselves as they are or of other people who are self-diminishing too. Just share your perspective and how much you appreciate X’s self-acceptance or how you wish Y could see all the wonderful positive things and accept him/her self. Once you see the seeds of your message are bearing fruit (you’ll know because he or she will start sharing similar thoughts) you can start highlighting the second Key Strategy.

What works for you when dealing with assholes?

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