#209: Deal with a Difficult Boss in English ( + Effectively Manage Impatience)

Jun 23, 2021 | Business Professional English

Does your boss get frustrated and impatient while you try to organize your thoughts in English?

It’s difficult to stay calm, think clearly, and express yourself when you’re getting steamrolled.

Recently, Mary shared this experience with me: 

“I’m dealing with a boss who gets impatient with me when I’m trying to explain myself. English is my second language and I’m the only person on the team whose English is their second language. I get very nervous every time I have meeting with her and it is worse when I know that my colleagues are attending the meetings too. My heart starts pounding and my hands get very sweaty.” 

Do you have the same challenge?

In today’s Confident English lesson, you’ll get 6 strategies + essential English phrases to help you effectively manage impatience and frustration so that you can say what you want to say — without anxiety.

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss ( + Effectively Manage Impatience)


Strategy 1: Breathe & Buy Yourself Time

When the panic kicks in, it’s easy to lose your train of thought or find the right words. 

To mitigate this unnerving situation, allow yourself a moment to take a deep breath before you answer. 

Then, buy yourself some time with this powerful phrase:

  • That’s an interesting thought/idea/question. Would you mind giving me a few minutes to think about that?

Alternatively, if you need to give an immediate response and are struggling to find the right words, harness the power of PAUSES. As you speak, slow down your pace and use short pauses to gather your thoughts. 

Strategy 2: Lead with Your Endpoint

The best way to avoid the huffing and puffing of impatience is to be concise and immediately state your main point – your endpoint

Let me give you an example:

  • Ex. Step 1 is to make the dough with flour and water. Next, step 2 is to make the pizza sauce. Then, step 3 is to cut your vegetables and shred your cheese. Step 4 is to finally roll out the dough, spread the sauce, and add the toppings, before you bake it.

Did you lose interest? Did it sound clear? Let’s start again and lead with the endpoint:

  • Ex. There are 4 simple steps for making a good pizza. Step 1: Make the dough with flour and water, step 2: make the pizza sauce, step 3: prepare your toppings and shred the cheese, and step 4: roll out the dough, spread the sauce, add your toppings, and bake it. 

What did you notice about the second example? The first sentence told you my end goal was: to tell you how to make a good pizza in the first steps.

Strategy 3: Embrace the Power of Writing

Sometimes the more we try to explain something, the easier it is for things to get lost in translation. The result is a feeling of frustration in yourself and your listener.

If you feel anxious or unconfident in your ability to orally express your thoughts, and if it’s appropriate, take advantage of your strengths in written communication.

Here’s why you can say:

  • I would love to give you a clearer picture and explain this in more detail. Do you mind if I get back to you via email today?”

Strategy 4: Ask Clarifying Questions

It is OK to ask questions! When you don’t understand a question or comment, ask for further clarification by repeating what was said. 

  • “To clarify, are you asking ___?”
  • “I’d like to make sure that I understood you clearly. Are you asking___?”
  • “I’d like to go back for a moment. Could you explain what you mean by___?”
  • “I’m not sure what you mean by ____. Could you rephrase that for me?”
  • “You think/believe that ____. Did I understand that correctly?”

Right now you may be thinking, but Annemarie when I ask questions like that my boss gets impatient because I didn’t get it right away. And that leads me to Strategy 5…

    Strategy 5: Reframe the Conversation

    Asking questions can increase someone’s frustration if they are already impatient, feeling rushed, or annoyed.

    To reduce that negativity, reframe or redirect the conversation by telling your boss what you are doing to do for her/him (such as responding to an upset customer or finishing analyzing budget numbers by the end of the day) AND explain that you’re going to do that by asking some questions. This is similar to leading with your endpoint.

    Here’s an example:

    • “Okay Susan, I’d like to ask 2 questions so I can be sure to deliver the analysis you want.”

    Strategy 6: Address the Issue

    Surprisingly, the frustration may not about your fluency or speaking skills. 

    Lack of communication, unexpressed expectations, or your boss’s working style could be one of many reasons for frustration.

    When all else fails and you feel unheard, consider opening a dialogue with your boss and confronting the issue. 

    • “I’ve noticed some difficulty in communicating my thoughts. Would you mind sparing a few minutes to discuss this with me?”
    • “I reviewed your changes and suggestions. Would you mind explaining your thoughts and going over the expectations, for future reference?” 

    I’d love to hear from you! And I have 2 questions for you to consider:

    • How do you handle impatience and frustration at work? You might have the perfect solution for someone else in the Confident English Community. Share your thoughts below.
    • Now that you’re equipped with some new strategies, which ones do you see yourself using the most?

    Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

    ~ Annemarie


    P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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