Dealing with difficult supervisors

So,  what happens when the supervisor starts throwing spanners into your work.  They have free reign and make decisions without consulting you and you wouldn’t know better anyway to say no…

It can be frustrating, but I found a solution.

  1. Just bear with it, if they mean well and you can live with it and overall you will get your PhD done, then just pick your battles.
  2. Focus on outcomes – rather than emotion.  What solution do you need?  Do you need encouragement from them?  Can you organise your project better to give them more regular updates to prevent them from micromanaging and annoying you?  Tell them what solution you need rather than get irritated and not having control over your own research (you’re still learning after all).

I found this article funny and helpful, hope it helps you too…

Difficult PhD supervisor angry


Supervisors are human too

I learnt 3 important things in the past few weeks:

Image result for control

  1. I am in control.  I used to let things and people stress me.  But I’m the one flying my plane and my life.

I was super busy with work and study, then had a conference.  For once, I left my laptop at home and attended the conference and ENJOYED it.  Before, I would worry about work, worry about study, worry about my supervisor getting mad at me for having “time off”…it did wonders for my mental health, happiness and industry knowledge to be present at the conference and really enjoy each moment.  I made the exhibitors laugh and got lots of goodies e.g. a brain shaped stress ball, yoyos, a baseball even…(that an exhibitor said I could throw in a certain direction and wipe out their competitor at the conference).  We all need a break and so do our minds, especially when doing a PhD.  It refreshes our creativity and gives us fresh air.  I am allowed to have fun and be kind to myself.

The biggest thing I’ve been doing lately during my morning 10 minute meditations is to visualise success and feel it.  10 minutes of visualising success, achieving my goals and feeling it in my body is super powerful.

I read a study somewhere about 2  basketball teams.  One actually practiced on the court and the other team visualised their game (without physical practice).  Amazingly, the second team that visualised played and scored higher than the other team.  The mind is a wonderful thing.  You are in control, no one else can stress you if you don’t let them and you can achieve everything you want to.

2. Priorities:  Who will be there after your PhD?  Who will celebrate with you?  Who will love you even if you don’t get a PhD?  When in doubt, and the Phd becomes your focus…I have learnt having clear priorities and sticking to them means I will never regret my decisions in life.

Related imageI have regretted spending too much time at work.

Stressing too much over study.

Stressing about what others think of me.

But I have NEVER regretting spending time with my loved ones.

I had to make a choice this week, look after a sick loved one and have lunch with family or say I’m too busy and try and catch up with the huge amount of study and work.  Study and work will always be there.  I am so glad I chose family…and I’m still getting time to catch up with my work.  Good for the soul and good for the brain.

3. Supervisors are human.

Image result for robotSupervisors, bosses, teachers, mentors, parents…sometimes we forget they are humans and not robots.  They too get stressed and have bad days and emotions.  If they got stressed, I would stress.  I am starting to manage my supervisors now…communicating with them early on if I expect issues or about my schedule.  They also learn that you’re growing up this way, when they can see you manage yourself and communicate to them your needs.  This means they stress less and I stress less.

I was actually thinking that to be a good supervisor, you have to be as calm as a driving instructor…but that is so unrealistic.  Has anyone noticed that there are a large portion of academics who are quite eccentric and lack people and organizational skills because that part of their brain is focused on their research?  (Including me)…lesson learnt, as Prof Jimmy Choo says “just be nice”  that’s all you need to do.

Be nice to your supervisors and understand that they’re human, be nice to yourself because you are human too, be nice when you become a supervisor one day…