Six strategies for dealing with a socially awkward boss
An emotionally immature manager may provide you with the opportunity to communicate with colleagues and generally smooth out his rough edges
We have all worked with that person who does not know how to chitchat, cannot make eye contact or even says inappropriate things from time to time. When that person is your boss, it can be very uncomfortable. How do you build a relationship with a manager who is not good at relationships?
Here are some strategies:
1. Reflect: Reflect on and process your emotional responses to your boss’s behaviour either on your own or with a friend or mentor outside of your workplace.
2. Be helpful: If you are someone with a lot of emotional intelligence, having a boss who lacks it may actually be an opportunity. You can help your boss communicate with colleagues, translate his vision and generally smooth out his rough edges.
3. Get to know her: Try to get to know your manager by asking her about what she is interested in, cares about and values. These efforts may not be reciprocated — and that is OK.
4. Offer feedback: It is worthwhile to try occasionally to help your boss become more self-aware. Follow the principles of good feedback, which means focusing specifically on what the person said or did in the situation and what the results were.
5. Think positively: A socially awkward boss may not be the manager of your dreams, but she is not the manager of your nightmares either. It might help to put your problems into perspective.
6. But pay attention: If, over time, you realise that your boss is not merely socially inept but a real bully, that is a different problem. And it is not one you should roll with.
Adapted from What to Do When Your Boss Is Socially Awkward at HBR.org
Harvard Business Review