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How To Tell Your Boss You Don’t Like Your Job

September 21st, 2012 by Michelle McQuaid

tell your bossWondering how to tell your boss your job is boring you senseless? That it’s taking all your energy each morning just to haul yourself into the office because of the sheer tedium of what you know awaits?

Surely it’s not unreasonable to tell your boss you expect the opportunity to spend a little time each day doing what you do best? Yet research by the Gallup Organization of more than 10 million people has found only one-third of the people they’ve interviewed strongly agree with the statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”

Further polls have found that among those who “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with this statement, not one single person was emotionally engaged in their job. Now that’s something to tell your boss!

Tell your boss it just doesn’t “Flow”

You can tell your boss flow is the feeling you have when we’re one with the music, time stops and you lose all self-consciousness because you’re fully absorbed in what you’re doing. You may not be thinking or feeling anything and yet you can tell your boss you’re learning, growing, improving and advancing so that you feel more capable, in control and satisfied afterwards.

It’s that specific zone between under-challenged and over-challenged – between boredom and anxiety – which provides a positive and productive natural high.  Or you can just tell your boss: “It’s what happens when you’re working at your full capacity.”

Renowned professor Mihalyi Csikzentmihalyi, famous for identifying and enhancing the concept of flow, explains having a clear goal that balances your strengths with the complexity of the task at hand, and a sense of autonomy is necessary in order to attain the state of flow.

Yet this is exactly what most of our jobs lack. For example, does your boss even know what your strengths are?  I’m guessing not or you wouldn’t be wondering how to tell your boss you don’t like your job!

Conversations in which opinions may differ, emotions are extreme and the stakes are high can have a huge impact of the quality of your life.  If you really want to tell your boss you don’t like your job then you have to make them feel safe.  Don’t just tell your boss you don’t like your job instead find a shared goal – for example you want to enjoy your work more and your boss wants you to work more –  that gives you a good reason for talking and by showing respect.

What if you can’t tell your boss?

Unfortunately, a job without the flow of engagement, is also a recipe for misery. It leaves you feeling bored, helpless and unworthy. It makes you increasingly self-absorbed and it’s easier to become depressed and start hating your work.

But don’t despair! If you’re not ready to tell your boss how much you dislike your job there are other proven, practical ways from positive psychology to help you build moments of flow into your work by:

  • Discovering your strengths – Your strengths can comprise your talents, interests, resources, and/or character. They’re things you look forward to doing, you feel absorbed by while you’re doing them and by which you feel invigorated and fulfilled after you’ve done them. Strengths are where your greatest successes happen and where you experience enormous growth. Take this free survey to discover your strengths and ways to use them at work each day no matter what you tell your boss.
  • Re-crafting your job – It’s easy to get trapped into thinking about your job as a list of things that must be done at all costs. But says who? What if you were able to adjust what you do and not tell your boss?  The reality is that formal job requirements are not the only thing determining what you do.  Crafting your job by changing the type and number of tasks you choose to undertake and the way you think about your work and/or who you interact with, allows you to reclaim your power, motivation and relationships. It helps you to adjust what you do every day by reframing the way you think about your job and where you choose to spend your time and energy.
  • Being mindful – Ellen Langer is a Harvard psychologist who teaches her students that events don’t come with evaluations; rather we impose evaluations on our experiences and, in so doing, create our experience of the event. She believes that noticing new things is the essence of mindfulness, while unquestioningly accepting a single-minded evaluation of what we see is mindless and urges us to ask about our jobs: When was this decided? Who says so? Based on what information? With what motivation? As you answer these questions, hidden worlds of opportunities for flow start to open up and you don’t have to tell your boss a thing!

Unfortunately when you can’t tell your boss you don’t like your job, on average it can take you around 22 months to free yourself for something better undermining your performance, damaging your health and destroying your relationships in the process.  It’s not okay to drag yourself to work each day.  Try the smallest change to make your job more rewarding – even if you can’t tell your boss!
Want to learn how to tell your boss what you really want? Join us on October 16th, National Boss Day. Follow us on Twitter @TellYourBoss for updates and to join the revolution.


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