Q: Do you have any tips for dealing with a perpetually critical boss, short of changing jobs?
A: initiate a conversation with your boss about the top two ways s/he thinks you could improve your performance. That way you define the conversation, show your interest in enhancing your client service, and engage the boss in the role of mentor. Listen, don’t argue, and ask for concrete ways to do better. For instance, if your boss says you need to improve your writing, ask if you can work with someone in the office s/he sees as a stellar writer and a good teacher. Or, ask if you could do some research and propose a legal writing course, whether private or at the local bar, or even 3 to 5 sessions with a local writing tutor. The key is to strive for excellence and let your boss know you’re in for the mission. Then, consider asking your boss to lunch or out for coffee once in a while; if s/he turns you down, at least you tried and, more likely, you may get to know each other outside the immediate work context and in that way, defuse some of the constant criticism.