Remember when you graduated from college with a bright outlook on life and a few hopeful job prospects lined up? Me neither.
Millennials haven't had such a privilege, and our post-graduate job search usually consists of living at home for several months desperately sending out dozens of resumes for a handful of callbacks.
When you finally do get that job, everything feels like it's clicked into place and things are looking up. You're employed, you're getting paid, you're beginning your career and everything is great… Except Jesus Christ, you can't F-ing stand being around your boss.
What a buzzkill it is to get a job only to realize the person who's employed you is just an absolute tool. After all, you can't tell your boss they're a tool because that's the person signing your paychecks. You have to approach them for raises, for office disputes, for promotions, for transfers, for time off, and everything in between.
But rather than lamenting your unfair situation, you can take your disputes with your boss and try to work through them. Although millennials frequently avoid rocking the proverbial boat at work for fear of being out of a job, they (and you) still have some right to negotiate for a better work experience.
Arrange A Face-To-Face Meeting
The first step to discussing problems with your boss is to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them. Problems that stem from conflict or tension can be difficult to discuss over email, and by talking to each other, you give each party time to empathize with the other's point of view.
Additionally, by setting a meeting, you give your boss some time to grapple with the idea that they need to evaluate their relationship with you, which can allow them some time in advance to consider your potential point of view, especially if it involves disagreement over workers' compensation or something even more controversial.
Be sure to prepare for this face-to-face meeting by adequately documenting exactly what you want to talk about, including specific incidents, what you had a problem with, and how it made you feel.
Focus on how your boss's actions affected you and made you feel, rather than what they specifically did wrong.
Talk To Your Peers
Before you ask your boss why they seem to have a problem with you, take the time to talk to fellow co-workers about your boss first.
Although you should avoid outright saying you have a problem with the boss, seek advice from them or ask them about their relationship with the boss.
You may be surprised to find that everyone gets more or less the same treatment and you aren't being singled out, or you may discover that you're being held to different standards than the other employees are.
Use these conversations to guide what expectations you should have of your boss, what response you can expect from your workplace if other employees ever have/had similar experiences, and how you should raise issues with your boss.
Evaluate Your Own Performance
Before you have a face-to-face meeting with your boss to discuss how unfairly you feel you're being treated, be sure you've thought about it from your boss's point of view.
Are you failing to meet certain standards your boss has set, and could that be the reason for the tension between you? Think about your boss's expectations of you versus your fellow co-workers, and try to determine if there is an area you can personally improve upon before you take the conversation to your boss.
Even if your boss is treating you unfairly, having any obvious weaknesses in performance at work is going to be a weak point in any argument you try to make.
Take concrete steps to try to address any personal performance problems you may be experiencing before you try to have a conversation with your boss, and see if improving your performance improves your boss's behavior.
Although your boss may be treating or judging you unfairly, improving your performance can only bolster your own defense.
Dealing with a bad boss can be incredibly difficult, especially for a millennial facing a tough job market. However, there are ways to work around a bad job and improve your work experience that don't have to rock the boat and won't risk landing you in unemployment territory.