Winning with the Boss from Hell: A Guide to Life in the Trenches


171 pages
ISBN 1-55022-632-0
DDC 650.1'3





Reviewed by Janet Arnett

Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.



The workplace is populated with less-than-perfect people. Your employees
may be lazy, dishonest backstabbers. Your boss may be incompetent,
condescending, or even a pig. Undoubtedly you have customers who are
rude and

unreasonable. Even you may be less than perfect in your understanding,
attitude, and people skills.

Belding leads us through a look at the variations to be encountered
when hell releases its worst. He lays out strategies for de-escalating
conflict, then productively addresses the issues. Regardless of whether
the person causing our grief is a boss, an employee, or a customer, the
chances of a successful outcome depend largely on the strength of our
own communications skills.

Belding favours mnemonics to promote his communications strategies.
When dealing with difficult customers, it’s LESTER: listen, echo,
sympathize, thank, evaluate, and respond. For surviving a “special”
boss, it’s FIRST (fly below the radar, ignore, retrain, stand your
ground, and talk turkey). For your employees, he suggests you SOAR (set
goals, observe, assess, and respond). Or give a DART: direction,
appreciation, respect, and the tools to do the job.

Creating and serving the “poop sandwich” is his strategy for
delivering bad news or a reprimand: sandwich the necessary negative
between two positives. For surviving difficult customers, he goes
against the traditional advice of analyzing personality types and
suggests that looking at expectations will be more effective. Throughout
the series the message is that we have more control than we realize and
that the first proactive step is always to look at our own attitudes,
objectives, and communications skills.

Although there is no acknowledgment of it in the book, Winning with the
Customer from Hell is an update of Belding’s 2000 work, Dealing with
the Customer from Hell. The changes are cosmetic updates, such as “
service person” replacing “sales person.”

The series is an easy read, practical, and insightful.


Belding, Shaun., “Winning with the Boss from Hell: A Guide to Life in the Trenches,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 17, 2024,