Difficult boss running down your work? Stuck in a creative rut? Ask the Doctor!

Address your questions at ASK THE DOCTOR to interact@exchange4media.com or to sandeep@goyalmail.com

by exchange4media Staff
Published - May 8, 2018 8:52 AM Updated: May 8, 2018 8:52 AM

Q. I have a big problem with my boss. She tends to always run down my work. In fact she ensures that none of my work gets entered for the awards. If I have no entries, I obviously have no metals. I am very frustrated. My boss is actually very ‘bossy’ and she is not even open to have a conversation on this subject. What can I do?
Ashish J.


Dear Ashish,

I normally counsel patience and dialogue. But there are work situations where this may not be possible. For that you are the best judge.

Also, I do not have a complete picture of the situation you are in. How long has this lady been your boss? Was she always difficult to work with? Is she difficult with everyone or is all her stiffness targeted just at you? Is there, in your understanding, any particular reason for her to run down your work? Is it just in her nature not to be nice to her subordinates, or is she generally negative to her peers too? Many of these questions could help give me a better understanding of your work relationship with your boss.

If the lady is difficult by nature, which means she is difficult with you but she is also difficult with everyone else, then dealing with her becomes easier. At least you know that you are dealing with a monster. My advice in such a case is to outlast the boss. Just sit tight. Think that you have just drawn a bad card and next time around you could have better luck. Just quitting the job and moving on does not necessarily mean that the new boss in the new job will be a nicer person. As they say you cannot choose your parents and your boss. All a matter of luck.

If the lady boss is particularly nasty to you, but more pleasant to others, then you need to have a one-to-one chat with her, howsoever much she may resist. In my experience, ‘bully’ bosses tend to avoid such one-to-one meetings as they have no logical reason to explain either their behavior or their dislikes. Hence, a showdown such as this, normally helps bring down some bit of the animosity especially if the boss discovers that you are not a complete push-over.
Finally, there is always the option to quit. But as I said earlier, that too is a gamble. There is no guarantee that the new boss will be any better.

I suggest you ask your lady boss for a formal appraisal of your work. Drop her a mail so that it is on record. Then follow it up with a verbal request. I think the meeting will not be very pleasant to start with as the lady will try to cow you down but if you are firm and stand your ground, the conversation may become better as it progresses. You may actually find a more amicable relationship taking shape as days go by. If this doesn’t work, you can always ask for an internal transfer. Or quit. But if I were you, I would first have that conversation with the current boss, howsoever much difficult.
Good luck!

Q. I seem to have the equivalent of a writer’s block in my work as an art director. I am just not being able to come up with new ideas or good work. This problem has been going on for almost 3 months now. No one is complaining at work but I know that I am not producing anywhere close to my best. I just have a feeling of helplessness and feel a void when I sit before the computer. My output is therefore very mechanical. I have tried yoga. I have even enrolled for meditation. But so far the results are just the same. Please help.
Pradeep O.


Dear Pradeep,

You are not the first or the last creative guy to have a mental block. This can happen because of fatigue. It can happen because of the drudgery of a boring, repetitive job. Or it can happen because you are stressed at home or with other personal issues.

My first and foremost advice in such a situation is introspection. Only you know what is worrying you or bothering you. If you can identify that cause, the rest becomes comparatively easy. If it is sheer boredom, then the answer is to look for a job change, internally or externally. If it is fatigue, the answer is to take it easy and perhaps go on a holiday. If it is some personal stress, the right thing to do is to try and resolve that personal situation before it hurts your work. You could well say that all of these are generalized and vague pieces of advice. But the reality is that your deliverance is really in your own hands.

Many many years ago, I had a colleague (by the way he was a client servicing guy, not creative) who ran into a problem similar to yours. Every morning he would come to work, and then not feel like doing anything. He would not want to meet the client. Or write a brief. Or chase an art work. He would just sit at his desk, and generally hibernate. One day, he and I had a long chat over lunch.

The next day he applied for a month’s leave. He went and joined music classes. I don’t know what he actually did at the music school but whatever it was, it gave him the necessary release from his personal state of inertia. A month later he was back, charged up and happy. He continued to go for evening guitar classes but at work he was back to being the good servicing guy that he always was.

You have to find that one thing that will rejuvenate you, revive you. This personal panacea varies from individual to individual. Don’t give up on the yoga or the meditation. It will eventually help.

Would recommend you buy and read a book called Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. I think this book will give you some interesting insights that may help you in your current predicament.

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