You might have a client who works under the boss from hell. Your clients can’t fire the boss, but they can take some action that will benefit them in the long run. Here are some ways to deal with a workaholic boss.

Avoid anger and impatience. These are the traits of workaholics who are socially isolated and task focused. Remain tactful and diplomatic, even when you’re frustrated. Talk with your boss and try to see his or her human side. Try to find an idea, pastime, or point of view that gives you common ground to connect with your boss so that you can stay objective and see the problem as bigger than just the two of you.

Schedule a meeting with your boss to find out what his or her expectations of you are, and the expectations of your boss’s boss. Ask exactly what type of performance is expected of you in order for you to receive an excellent review rating. According to some experts, 99 percent of the time work hours are graded for not putting in extra hours. Make sure your boss understands your point of view, the importance of your personal life, and your expectations concerning job demands. Making priorities, set goals, and schedule your time accordingly.

Reach out to coworkers who are experiencing similar problems with the boss. Start support-group meetings before or after work, or during lunch in designated places at the work site. By meeting together and talking about your problems constructively, you can develop a rich support system to draw on in the job setting. When appropriate, schedule a group meeting with the boss and explain your concerns in a constructive way. Ask for feedback or ground rules so that all of you can be productive and avoid future problems.

Excerpt from Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them with permission from the author and publisher.

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  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Founder and CAO of ComfortZones Digital and Author of 40 books.

    ComfortZones Digital

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is Founder and Chief Architect Officer (CAO) of ComfortZones Digital--the digital companion to mitigate workplace stress. He is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself."