Does your boss have mood swings that vary from happy and optimistic to rude and angry? Sudden outbursts and erratic behaviors can negatively impact your work and your relationship with your boss. In the Harvard Business Review, Carolyn O’Hara gives suggestions on how to be proactive about an unpredictable boss.
Investigate | Try to understand and predict mood swings by paying attention to patterns. Is he set off by stressful situations? Is she particularly volatile at a certain time of day? If you understand when or why your boss acts out, you can work on a strategy for handling it. Practice “situational awareness,” and plan interactions at a time when they are less likely to be out of control.
Be calm | Keep RespectfulDon’t #1, “Don’t Try to Stop Disrespect with More Disrespect,” in mind. If your boss is screaming at you, don’t do the same. Step back and remove yourself from the situation, then talk with them about it later.
Use gratitude | Gratitude is a simple yet effective tool. If you can see your boss is beginning to get upset, try saying something that shows gratitude or offer a “strategic apology,” like apologizing for a mistake that you made or even that you asked for something at a difficult time. Gratitude and strategic apologies can deescalate situations and demonstrate empathy.
Remember RespectfulDon’t #2, “Don’t Tolerate Disrespect” | If it continues to be a problem, get help. This is a case where you’ll want to involve HR.