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Snobbish Boss & Office Politics: Tips to deal with hostile boss and office politics

Updated on June 1, 2016

All of us have faced harassment from our boss at some point in our working life and found it difficult to deal with such hostile situation. It is possible indeed but the odds are against you. It is best to keep work or office relationships courteous, friendly and above all, professional. Even if your present boss was your co worker at the same level as you just some time back and just got promoted, the boss would still be a boss. You just cannot let your guard down while with your boss as he or she is supposed to judge you as a person and as an employee all the time.

While you and your boss may not become or stay BFF’s; however, you can still be friendly with your boss. But before you take the leap keep these things in mind.

  1. Do not let your guard down:Irrespective of how close you are to your superior or boss; do not make your personal life a topic of office discussion. You must know where to draw the line when having a friendly chit chat with your superior or your subordinate. Confiding in your superior or boss about the ghosts of your personal life may send negative vibes and also have an impact on your appraisal.
  2. Avoid befriending your manager on social media sites: Do not send friend request to your boss on your Facebook or Twitter account. It puts both you and your boss in an awkward position and you may regret it when he or she sees something that you did not want your office colleagues to know about.
  3. Avoid discussing personal life: Personal & professional live do not go hand in hand and mixing them may have severe repercussions. Therefore it is advisable not to binge on discussions of intimate nature with your boss.
  4. Don’t expect a friendship to continue if your friend gets promoted and becomes your boss: Chances of your relationship surviving are slim, if your friend gets promoted and becomes your boss. It would obviously feel uncomfortable for a friend to evaluate & analyze your performance. Focus on your job and keep the dynamics of your evolved relationship in mind. If you lose a good friend it's not the end of the world. Make new friends and keep your new relationship with your boss well defined.
  5. Blend in a safe environment: Participating in sports events/activities or mixing at an office party is an appropriate way to develop a relationship without intruding each others personal space. Avoid getting drunk and indulging in unnecessary outings at such gatherings.

While all this may give you an impression that it’s the subordinate that has to adjust and always be on his or her toes in a friend boss relationship, it’s equally troubling and difficult for the boss as well. He or she may find it difficult to reprimand or confront a subordinate when the situation demands so, because of the relationship they share with each other. At times someone who has just been promoted may go overboard just to get his or her team members to like them. To confuse being liked with being respected or trusted is a trap all managers find difficult to avoid.

There are managers who would do almost anything to avoid conflict. They avoid saying or doing anything that might upset others. There are times when as a manager you just cannot avoid conflict and you will have to take stands irrespective of how many feathers you ruffle. This whole thing or just the idea of it unsettles many managers.

Some argue that personal or close relationships are the best way to influence others and getting things done. They feel that it is compelling on people you have close relationship with when you ask them to do things for you. However, you will struggle as a manager if choose to cultivate close ties with your subordinates, as this whole compelling business has a way of getting back at you. Your subordinates might expect you to make an exception for them that others may consider improper or unfair. You will find it difficult to take people decisions and evaluate people. You will find yourself in an awkward position if you have to terminate one of your subordinates some day, because you know them a bit too well. You know that they have got EMI’s to pay. They have small children just like you.

If you have a tendency to develop such relationships think of all your subordinates one by one and ask yourself whether you will be able to reprimand them if their performance goes down or will you have the guts to fire them, if required? If you are reluctant to do so, because of the relation you have with that person, then such relationships will hamper your performance as a manager.


Consider the following suggestions:

  1. Be friendly and not friends: There is a difference in being friendly and friends. It is always advisable to be friendly rather than being friends with your subordinates. Being friendly helps you motivate your subordinates in a positive manner and above all it doesn’t come with the burden of emotions attached with friendship.
  2. Don’t be rigid: It always helps if you are flexible. Be flexible and not rigid. There are people who can be trusted and would perform better if they knew that the person they are working for is their friend and would not let them down. Such people would also be more loyal towards the organization and are more likely to stick with the company for a longer duration.


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