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12 Ways to Respond to a Demanding Boss

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Demanding bosses are everywhere and they come in many forms. There is the “We” Demanding Boss—the one who says things like, “We should aim to get that PowerPoint in on Monday,” when it’s obviously you who will be dropping a full paycheck on RedBull this weekend. There’s the “Jobs” Demanding Boss—the one who read Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, and now he literally thinks he IS Steve Jobs, motivating his way to greatness. (One time, before a big meeting, you could’ve sworn you caught him looking at his reflection in his 27-inch iMac, whispering to himself, “Here’s to the crazy ones.”) And then there’s the “Fresh-on-the-Scene” Demanding Boss—the one who just removed the plastic wrap from his shiny new “Boss” title and is just really excited to be a boss, so he’s flinging around demands faster than an angry toddler with a fist full of Cheerios.

In your head, you’re all like F%^!# THIS S%4$ ALS;AWEHILWE DND. And you want to be like, “Hey Boss, how about you reschedule your own ophthalmology appointment?” or, “Hey Boss, how about you write down 20 ideas and come back to me when you’re ready?” or, “Hey Boss, -____-”) But remember: You’re a lady. You’re Grace Kelly. You’re beauty and you’re grace. You’re Miss United States. You’d give anything for the days when the most pressing task on your computer screen was winning Oregon Trail, but we’re here to offer a little solace, and help you channel your inner Amal Clooney and respond like you have better things to get mad about:

  1. Thank you for the feedback. In the future, I will be sure to [repeat boss’s exact words here so she feels heard and then lets you be].

  2. Got it.

  3. I’m working on X and Y priorities for you today—X day is more realistic, but it’s coming along great so far.

  4. On it.

  5. My apologies. I had to step away from my desk to use the ladies’ room. What can I help you with?

  6. My apologies. I had to step away from my desk to take a sip of water because it’s 5 p.m. and I haven’t had lunch. What can I help you with? (Don’t actually say this one. See #5.)

  7. Noted.

  8. Sure thing!

  9. What can I do to make this easier for you?

  10. You asked me to focus on X this morning. Which would you like me to prioritize for you?

  11. I’m going to take one more look at this tomorrow morning with fresh eyes.

  12. [Thank you for your e-mail. I am out of the office from X day to X day and look forward to getting back to you once I return.]

Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

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