In my last post, I told you that the way to survive a bad boss is to “never, ever gossip or complain about him or her.”

I want to explain more about that, because it’s something that I’ve gotten some feedback on. Readers found it to be a direct but difficult tactic, and certainly one that takes discipline to employ.

All the same, I mean it.

So, in this post, I want to break down exactly why never shit talking your boss (excuse the crudity, but it’s the best word for what I mean) is such a good idea.

Now, don’t get confused. “Don’t talk shit about your boss, ever.” is NOT the same thing as “Only say nice things about your boss.”

I would never say that, because it’s pointless.

Here, I’m going to teach you my tactics for constructive positive psychology in dealing with a complicated workplace.

When we focus on taking proactive steps to resolve our issues and get what we need, we create a work environment that favors our well-being and satisfaction.

Well-being and satisfaction are two very important feelings to have about your work. After all, at Expat Backup we’re after health and happiness, and it’s important to feel motivated about your aid career and pleased with your life.

So, how is this thing that I’m asking even possible? How can I reasonably expect you never to shit talk any boss ever again?

Let me break it down.

5 Reasons to Stay Positive About an Aid Job You Might Hate

 1. Word gets around.

You’re an expat. You know this already. I don’t need to explain it to you. How many people have you worked with in different assignments, in different countries? The aid and development community is small, and that’s all there is to it.

The colleague you shit talk about your boss to today could be looking at your resume tomorrow.

It’s a small world. Act like it.

2. You need to be hireable.

Look at it from your boss’s perspective. If you talk shit about her to a colleague who pretends to understand, when that same colleague is at a start-up and looking for new partners, he’s not going to want to work with you. He’ll remember the shit things you said about your boss, who from this distance will seem bland and pitiable, and he won’t want to hire you. Some part of his mind that is impossible to ignore will be thinking, what will this person say about me if I make him or her angry?

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

3. If you want good things to come your way, you need to be focused on good things.

Find the faults today, and you’ll see faults when you look again tomorrow. Find what’s good, what’s human, what’s vulnerable about the person who seems to be causing all these challenges to come your way.

Speech is incredibly powerful in determining our moods. So, by focusing on how you can work with what you’ve got to get what you need, you’re directing your entire mind towards proactive problem solving. You are much more likely to find and pursue a viable solution when you avoid negative, critical thoughts.

4. The workplace favors proactive problem solving.

This is true of global corporate culture just like it is in the aid and development world. We see people who get things done as natural leaders.

People who complain and gossip often don’t take action to solve the problems they’re putting so much negative energy into talking about, ironically. Global corporate culture sees gossiping as weak and unsportsmanlike. I tend to agree.

Of course, it’s easy to become reactive when a boss is giving you trouble. It’s stressful. As humans, it’s very natural to react from the flight, fight or freeze response.

With focus and intention we can become more proactive at making our workplaces more habitable.

So, stay positive.

 5. Because you’re worth it.

No matter where you are, right now, reading this, I want you to know that you’re worth fighting for. You’re worth making things better for. You are worth a work environment where you feel supported and appreciated.

If that’s not the work environment you have right now, you are worth every bit of the strategizing and positivity it’s going to take to change it. Actively working to reduce and eliminate stress in your life has a very real mental, emotional and physical health benefit.

Your health and well-being depend on it.


Now you know that not shit talking your supervisor is an essential expat aid worker career strategy — one that can make a massive difference in quickly advancing your career.

If you enjoyed this post, send me an email at and tell me what’s up. I love hearing from you.

And if you have an expat aid worker friend who could benefit from a little Expat Backup, I don’t need to remind you to send this their way.

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