LOVE THINE ENEMY (%^&*$?!!!)

You hate your supervisor. There – you finally said it. You’ve been pussy-footing around it (and her) for long enough now. That’s it, you’ve had it! Let the truth be told – you hate your supervisor.

Your reflection in the mirror scowls back at you. You sigh, stop waving your toothbrush around and stick it back in your mouth where it belongs. Fat lot of good that did! You still have to go to work today. You still have to face your supervisor. You still have to go along with whatever she says.

The worst of it is – you love your job! You have no desire to quit. You work for a great company, you enjoy your work, the pay is good, you get along fine with your co-workers, the only downside is – your supervisor. But oh, what a downside! Her automatic answer to anything you want is “No.” Her automatic expectation of anything she wants is “Yes.” So you don’t get help when you need it, you don’t get a recommendation for that new position, you don’t get vacation when you want it. You do have to respond with “How high?” when she says “Jump!”

So the question is: How are you going to keep your job without losing your sanity?

Love thine enemy.

No, not “Love thine enemy” as in plaster a phony smile on your face and pretend your supervisor is a great person to work with – she’s not! Besides, denying reality never works for any length of time. No, this is “Love thine enemy” as in value something about your supervisor. Deliberately look for one thing, however small, that you find worthwhile about her. Maybe it’s that she’s always straight with you. Maybe it’s that she works as long and hard as she expects you to. Maybe it’s that she challenges you to the very limits of your abilities.

Now – focus on that. For a couple of weeks, as best you can, every time you see your supervisor, think about what it is you value about her. Every time you even have thought about your supervisor, focus your attention solely on what you value about your supervisor.

What you think and feel about someone impacts how they think and feel about you. Over time, you’ll find that your opinion of your supervisor shifts. You’ll realize that she rides you hard because she really cares about the success of the company. You’ll realize that she doesn’t like shifting around vacation schedules because she takes great pride in the smooth running of her department. You’ll understand that she doesn’t give you that recommendation to a new position because she wants to keep your good work in her department!

As you persistently, consistently value your supervisor in this way, she will feel that shift and begin to value you and thus treat your requests differently.

Science increasingly shows how inter-related we all are and how we affect each other continuously in both conscious and unconscious ways. Make that inter-relatedness work for you. Value your supervisor and enjoy the benefits of her valuing you in return.

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at