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3 simple steps to help you tame your boss

Boss's Day - UNC Kenan-Flagler Business SchoolCountless fun holidays are sprinkled throughout the year, but one that falls in October might be our boss’s favorite – because it’s their day.

National Boss’s Day is a chance for employees to show appreciation for their boss’s kindness and fairness while strengthening their employee-employer bond.

We’ve all had a boss who can be fair and friendly one day and short-tempered and stressed the next. An array of factors might contribute to their changing moods, but the good thing is that we can take steps to help our boss consistently be the most enjoyable version of themselves.

Sleep well.  Michael Christian, associate professor of organizational behavior at UNC Kenan-Flagler, studies the role of mindfulness in the workplace. His research shows that sleep is an essential factor that affects a manager’s ethical behavior and attitude. When people are mentally exhausted, their abilities to self-regulate worsen — which means they’re more likely to act unethically, bend the rules, lie and/or be disengaged.

While you can’t regulate your boss’s sleeping patterns, you can manage your own and put yourself in the best mindset for dealing with perceived injustices that might just be grumpy reactions from your boss.

Grab a cup of coffee. When you’re sleep deprived, coffee can help mitigate the effects for the short term. Christian’s research shows that a cup of coffee can help you resist the pressure to act unethically – even after a bad night of sleep. Caffeine keeps you alert, making easier to maintain self-control and, therefore, can assist with having more pleasant, rational interactions with your boss.

Practice being mindful. Mindfulness is one of the key components of workplace harmony. It’s hard to regulate your behavior or to be mindful of what is happening around you without a good night’s sleep.

Employers and employees practicing mindfulness – or consciously being in the moment – can better manage immediate and latent negative reactions (aka hot and cold reactions) in the workplace, making it less likely to get angry, stew or take things personally. Being mindful can ease tension (or at least not add to it) and help employees be more understanding of their boss’s actions.

Understanding how the mind and body work together allows you to take steps to encourage positive relationships with your boss and coworkers. Getting a full night of sleep on a regular basis is ideal to ensure you function at your best and have the healthiest amount of mental energy – and encouraging your boss to do the same – will benefit everyone.

At the very least, you can show your appreciation for your boss with a warm cup of coffee this Boss’s Day.

By Courtney Jacobs (BA ’17)