Dear Lucy: My boss is a woman who is driving me crazy. She has no sense of time, priority or importance. She will tell you that something is really important to get done, then waste an hour of your time telling you stories about it, stories from the irrelevant past. Then, when you get started on the task, she will interrupt you with calls about new insights she is having and claim to be redirecting you in some way. I am stuck in the box of having to be courteous, respectful and listen to her while the clock is ticking and the work is getting nowhere. What can I do?
– Melba W.
Dear Melba: Rule number 1: stop agreeing to the idea that someone else is "making" you crazy. Please don't surrender your own power to someone else. This person is stuck in a box and has imprisoned you right in there with them. Not because she is the boss and you have no choice, but because you are allowing it.
So, I will give you some steps to take and you have to be brave enough to take them. You will be fine if you first understand and address your motive. Your motive means your "why,' your purpose or intention. Your loving intention will protect you from harm. If you genuinely do this for the sake of helping yourself and your boss, it will work out fine.
Your boss suffers from undisciplined, fearful thinking. There is a fear of being wrong, making a mistake, being judged and therefore she is stuck on stupid. You don't have to agree to be stuck on stupid (in a stupor) with her. It is also unkind to indulge someone stuck on stupid! They do it because people let them. Whatever you do, do with loving kindness and not out of frustration.
So, the next time she comes with an assignment:
Look at your watch and pay attention to the time it takes to listen to her story. Write down the start time. Tell her you are going to take notes to improve the communication and do a better job at the required task she is assigning to you and you wish to do all that you can to respect and maximize the use of time for both of you. Take notes and each time she tells you something that is not new, pertinent, useful or that you have repeatedly heard from her before this conversation, give it a special mark. Each time she says something extraneous to the subject, mark it. Each time she repeats something negative that does not enrich the task at hand, write that down. Allow her to finish and mark the total time.
Now tell her that you want to review what was said for clarity. Begin by telling her that this is what she said in "x" number of minutes. Then tell her only those things that are relevant to the task at hand. If you need more information, ask for it. If she begins to repeat what she said earlier, remind her that you already wrote that down and ask for new information.
Review with her your understanding of the assignment from your notes and get agreement on any specifics about when, what format she wants to receive it in etc.
If she calls later to second guess herself, remind her of the agreement and ask clarifying questions about how her new ideas add, change or enrich your prior instructions from her. This helps to get her out of her own scary box of failure and not drag you into it with her.
As you follow these instructions, you will also train yourself in the art of staying off stupid. We learn through repetition. By repetition, your boss has learned to reinforce her fear of failing at leading. Help her to lead rather than manage tasks. You will also train yourself to be a leader. Hopefully, with direct, pertinent directions you will be able to consistently deliver results that help her to look good. In addition, you will soon find her communication style changing.
Remember, "write the vision, make it plain...". It's hard to run with a stupid or unclear vision!
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)