I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your boss is not your friend.
No, I don’t care how cool they seem, if they buy you awesome stuff on their trips, or how close you think you are. You two are NOT friends, and will never be.
I had been pondering this post for a while but in light of recent happenings over the internet, and some interesting conversations that are going on, I thought this was as good a time as ever to publish this.
Work relationships are a complicated issue no matter where you work, how you work, or who you work with; but the beast is even worse in creative industries where we are more laid back as a rule, and hierarchy lines are sometimes blurred. Notice that I said blurred, not erased, because those lines are there, and you better watch them if you want to avoid being burned.
I think we can all agree shitty bosses are the freaking worst, but shitty bosses that try to pass themselves as your friends? Those are exponentially worse. Why? Because there are mixed messages, and we all know how those undermine ANY kind of relationship.
I have been burned at work, and judging from what I have heard from countless other women both in the past, and in recent weeks; I’m far, FAR from alone.
My mistake (and almost everyone’s it seems)? Thinking my boss was my friend, that we were an actual team, and that she had my back.
Let me put this simply: Unless your boss is your parent, she doesn’t have your back. You might think the sisterhood is strong with you two, but the likelihood of that being the case is bleak at best. I am sad this is the way things tend to work, but real life experience has proven this is how things are 99% of the time (and you’d be a fool to hope you’re that 1%. Everyone does, and that’s how they get burned).
So what’s a girl to do, you ask?
- Keep professional things professional.
No matter what, remember your boss is your BOSS, and they wouldn’t think twice before throwing you under a bus if the time to save their own skin came about.
- Set boundaries.
Martinis with office people are okay once in a while, but keep personal topics to a minimum, and cultivate your own real friendships outside of work.
- Remember your place.
And by that I don’t mean shut up and take crap, quite the contrary! I just want you to remember you’re an employee, and even if you’re freaking AMAZING, your employer probably considers you replaceable even under normal circumstances, and would never put their hands on fire to save you, that’s fo’ sure!
- Don’t take shit.
Respect the hierarchy, and don’t talk back to your superiors, but don’t take crap. If you don’t feel valued, and the work situation is turning toxic, run for the hills as soon as possible. Early signs of this are lack of recognition for things you do, and recrimination about things you don’t have to do, and choose not to do.
- Take the high-ish road.
What I mean by this is don’t trash-talk just because as a rule, but also, don’t protect the guilty. There’s a famous quote that says people should have behaved better if they wanted you to talk nicely of them, and I 100% agree.
Have you ever been burned by horrible bosses that wanted to pass as your friends? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!