Fighting Fire with Water-- Your Difficult-Boss Options 173 This Won't Work! Most sneaky things actually erode your status in a company unless you are truly good at being sneaky. That's because you get labeled as the difficult person, and you lose much of your credibility. People reap what they sow. Consider this. Do you want to go home every night plotting the downfall of your boss? Or scheming about that meeting coming up? Don't you have better things to do with your time than damage or manipulate people? If you don't mind the plotting and scheming, then you have a chance of pulling it off. If you DO mind, then you probably aren't going to be any good at it, so don't try. If you do go this route, you must have a power base or sphere of influence you can use to apply back-channel pressure. You need to be comfortable using people. You need to know when to push and when to back off, and when to stop. And you need to keep in mind that you are doing all these nasty things to make the workplace a better place, rather than for your own vengeance. It's a dirty game. But sometimes business is a dirty game. I'd pass on this approach if I were you. Working It Out The most productive option you have is to try to work out your problems with the difficult boss. That means sitting down, negotiating, listening, compromising, and finding some common ground. It means finding some solution both of you can live with. It's almost always the first step you try after you have determined you can't ignore the situation. If it doesn't work, you still have the more heavy-handed options. Here are some suggestions for you. Before you approach your boss to initiate a discussion, plan out your course of action. Decide the facts of the situation and try to be objective. Figure out what is important to the boss, and how you might sell some specific solution or suggestion. Decide be- forehand what you will do if the negotiations fail, and how much you can bend. From the Manager's Desk You never know whether working it out will work in advance. Sometimes the most difficult- appearing bosses can turn easy if approached expertly and in a way that gets through to him or her. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised.