Gynomite is a licensed therapist in 2 1/2 states and would love to take a crack at your emotional dilemmas. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. Today, Gynomite takes on bosses from hell.
Hi. I have a job that I’m actually ok with for once. The problem is that my immediate supervisor is a soul-sucking douchebag. He’s not bad at being a boss, he isn’t trying to destroy my career, he’s just a lame guy who is very insecure about himself and hides it by bragging about EVERYTHING. It’s almost impossible to listen to him, but I have to listen to him, and smile and congratulate him on being a brown belt in karate, or for making the best coffee in the city, etc and so on. It’s excruciating. What do I do?
Yikes, a BBC and NBC Office-type situation! It sucks to actually be ok with your job but to have to be in the face of someone you personally find abhorrent. Well, let me tell you what I’m sure you already know: there’s not much you can do.
Since your boss is not really being unprofessional, complaining to HR is a bad move in this case. I would go with the “I’m being a good employee” route and every time he comes around, really really focus on your work. Because while you can’t tell him he’s a douchebag, what you can do is drop some of the social norms like feigning interest in the things he talks about. Stop laughing, stop asking questions (even if he baits you with “oh wow, I had the coolest weekend!”), stop making anything but the barest of responses.
Then, when you get home (and only when you get home), I would handwrite a list of every single thing you’ve ever wanted to say to him. Because we all know that the real torture of insecure braggarts is that it would be so easy to complete destroy them, and yet, you could never do such a thing. So write them all down, from “no one gives a shit about karate” to “you’re never going to experience true love” on a piece of paper. Get them all out there. When you’re done, take a look at your list and realize that at any point in time, you have the power to emotionally crush this man. Then realize how much better of a person you are for not doing this, and rest easy with that knowledge.
This may sound petty and shitty, but when you’re in a situation that you cannot change, secretly petty and shitty can be cathartic.