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Quiz: Can you handle a bad boss?

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  • Ask your boss to define your job duties if he's overstepping boundaries
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By Anthony Balderrama writer
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If you are doing most of the work, and your boss is getting credit, don't be afraid to toot your own horn, experts say.

If you are doing most of the work, and your boss is getting credit, don't be afraid to toot your own horn, experts say.

Bad bosses are everywhere. Sometimes a bunch of little things tick you off about your boss; other times a single action just grates on your nerves.

Take the following quiz to see if you're prepared to handle the different curve balls a bad boss might throw your way.

Remember that regardless of how you choose to handle any of these situations, be sure you're putting your well-being first.

1. Your boss expects you to make her dinner reservations -- but you're not her personal assistant.

A. Do it with a smile.

B. Do it with a frown.

C. Have a cordial discussion with your boss about what your job duties are.

D. Tell her to go hire a trained monkey to do her grunt work.

ANSWER: C. If you're not willing to put up with her demands, you need to get the issue out in the open. Discussing the issue with a level head doesn't put her on the defensive.

2. You can't remember the last time your boss's face wasn't red from screaming at you.

A. In a private conversation, ask your boss if you're not fulfilling your duties in some way.

B. Scream back at him.

C. Pretend not to notice his anger and just listen as if nothing's wrong.

D. Burst into tears.

ANSWER: A. Good communication can make everybody's life a little better. Your boss won't necessarily change overnight but he might begin working on his anger management.

3. You're doing both your job and your boss's -- but getting none of the credit.

A. Write a department-wide e-mail detailing every brilliant idea you've had stolen by your bad boss.

B. Stop contributing at meetings and slack off on projects so your boss can't profit from your hard work.

C. Continue to be a hard worker, just make sure other people are active participants in the process so they see your value.

D. Sabotage your boss with ideas you know are destined to fail.

ANSWER: C. You don't want to sabotage your career in an effort to get due credit, so don't be afraid to toot your own horn when appropriate. Let other people see how valuable you are, even if your boss doesn't explicitly state it.

4. Your boss has invited you to one too many late-night drinks at her place.

A. Ignore your discomfort and accept the invitation.

B. Tell your boss that you're in a relationship and that you don't think late-night meetings are a good idea.

C. Quit.

D. Tell her husband what a cheat he's married to.

ANSWER: B. This situation is tricky. The bottom line is that you shouldn't stand for anything that makes you uncomfortable or violates your rights in any way. If you think a firm but nice rejection will work, do it. If not, contact the appropriate people.

5. Your boss expects you to answer e-mails and return his calls -- even if it's not an emergency -- while you're on vacation.

A. Prepare thoroughly for your upcoming vacation and show your boss that everything is covered while you're away.

B. Answer his calls, even if it means ruining a relaxing nap in a hammock.

C. Throw your iPhone in the ocean so you don't have to hear from him.

D. Cancel your trip since you won't be able to relax anyway.

ANSWER: A. Don't give your boss a reason to call you or think he needs to call you on vacation. If you fear cutting work ties for a week will endanger your job, tell your boss you'll set aside a small amount (30 minutes) of time each day for a call or to check e-mail. But you have to decide how much of your personal time you're willing to compromise.

6. Despite glowing performance reviews, you haven't received a raise in the three years you've been at the company.

A. Ask your boss if you can do anything to improve your career prospects and discuss your future at the company.

B. Accept that your boss isn't prone to giving raises unless it involves a promotion.

C. Sneak into payroll files and see what your co-workers are making.

D. Stage a sit-in at your desk until you get a raise.

ANSWER: A. Beginning a dialogue with your boss that invites her to tell her side of the situation puts you both on good terms. You might find out that nobody gets a raise due to financial reasons or that you need to do a little more to warrant it. Either way, you're better off knowing.

7. Your boss seeks your advice on personal problems as though you're his therapist.

A. Find your "Introduction to Psychology" textbook from college and channel your inner Freud.

B. Listen to his problems then ask him for advice about your own marriage.

C. Tell him to find someone who cares.

D. Talk with your boss about what your boundaries are and explain that being too personal at work makes you uncomfortable. Suggest going to someone in HR or within your health plan who may be better equipped to help him.

ANSWER: D. Talk it out. You might be the only person your boss talks to a lot and isn't involved with his personal problems. He could very well not have an idea how uncomfortable he's making you.

8. The more you see your boss in action, the more you wonder how ethical and legal her actions are.

A. Keep records of what you see and report them to the proper authorities if you have good reason.

B. Get your long-deserved raise by bribing her with your knowledge of her criminal actions.

C. Quit and let the next poor sap deal with it.

D. Pretend you don't notice anything.

ANSWER: A. Don't get pinned with your boss's misbehaviors and crimes. Document her behavior and contact human resources if you're afraid you're contributing to illegal or unethical activity.

9. Your boss expects you to be a mind reader.

A. Feel stupid for not knowing exactly what your boss wants before he asks.

B. Ask your boss if you can both alter how you communicate so that you're both on the same page.

C. Tell him, "I'm not a mind reader!" and ignore his requests.

D. Learn to read minds.

ANSWER: B. Don't beat yourself up for not being more intuitive, and don't hate your boss for assuming you know what he wants. He might not realize how presumptuous he's being.

10. Your boss thinks her jokes are edgy; you think they're bigoted.

A. Laugh on the outside; feel gross on the inside.

B. Tell your boss that you're not comfortable with these jokes and that they're probably better suited for personal time.

C. Top her with even more controversial jokes.

D. Burst into tears.

ANSWER: B. You might feel like you're bossing around the boss, but accepting inappropriate jokes that bother you will get old quickly. Others might be offended but are too scared to speak up. Plus, you don't want people thinking you share her views.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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