Bad boss

bad boss - ogre about to squash subordinateSituation:

You start a new job. Within a few days you realise your boss is an a**hole. You start to curse your luck and imagine what a nightmare your job is going to be.

Zoom-Out Logo - bullet 50x49 Universal Zoom-Out:

You Zoom-Out and remember that there is no ‘Law of the Universe’ that said you would never have a ‘bad boss’ in your entire career. It’s just something any well-rounded person should be ready to deal with and learn from. You also combine this with a Whole-Person Zoom-Out:

Zoom-Out Logo - bullet 50x49 Whole-Person ZoomOut:

You realise your bad boss is a whole-person and is not fully defined by that annoying or frustrating character trait. The job is not the person. They are most likely a fabulous spouse, parent, sibling, etc. They may even be doing acts of kindness and generosity not visible to you. You give them a break and accept they are not ‘bad’ despite your initial reaction and emotional response. You keep things in perspective and view this as a learning opportunity and a chance to make the best of the ‘inevitable’ situation.


When we label something or someone as ‘bad’ that is an incredibly rash judgement. Labels are best avoided. Nothing is ever so black and white. Where exactly is the line between good and bad anyway? And what makes us the expert and supreme judge?

As soon as we flick the ‘bad switch’ on someone, we saddle that person in our minds with all sorts of negative baggage that is really not justified. You could say it’s just mental laziness on our part. The person is more complex than we are acknowledging in this moment.

There’s also the “fundamental attribution error” which is a human bias that basically means that when someone behaves in a way we do not like then they are ‘an idiot’ whereas if we exhibit that behaviour then we blame this on some external factor – something we are not responsible for.

Zoom-Out beyond a simple label and see the more complex and more whole human being.

Zoom-Out beyond our internal biases. Acknowledge things are never as simple as they seem and our perspective is not the actual reality.

Further reading:

Psychology Today article – The Pesky Persistence of Labels

Wikipedia – Fundamental attribution error

Alfred Korzybski – Map–territory relation

NLP – The Map is not the Territory

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One Comment

  1. Brilliant! Just what I could have done with when I had to commute into the city, or when I had that a**hole of a boss!

    I am going to try and put the Zoom-Out mindset into practice. I do tend to get irritated by other people, especially in a crowded street or supermarket so I shall try to feel more kindly towards them! Eg I was waiting in the queue at M&S last week, in a hurry as I had lots to do. I thought I was in the shortest queue, but then the woman who was being served couldn’t find her credit card, emptied her bag over the counter, then said she thought she’d left it at home, so the cashier had to ring for the supervisor to ask if they could store the shopping in their fridge till she returned. Then the next person turned out to be deaf and thought he’d bought a “3 for £10” deal, but was charged £12, so that took a lot of sorting out, with lip reading and sign language, and waiting for the supervisor again! Now instead of stressing out about the extra 10 minutes I had to wait, I could have “zoned out”, felt sympathy for the poor woman who couldn’t find her card and for the man who had no hearing and might have been surviving on benefits so the extra £2 was a big deal for him, and also for the assistant who admirably kept her cool and also apologised very sweetly to me and the customers behind me. Like the person stressed because their on-line delivery didn’t arrive, I could have thought about how mine was a first-world problem, that I am lucky to be able to afford to buy food in M&S etc etc.

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