When things get tough, it's easy to imagine your employer as a malfunctioning robot devoid of human compassion. Unless you work in a dystopian near future, this is unlikely. Make things easier on yourself and recognize that your boss is at the mercy of the same stresses and frustrations as everyone else.

"What is not well understood by most is that [a chief of staff's] responsibilities also include helping with the president's state of mind," Card says. "You have to make sure that when he's faced with really challenging issues, he's not hungry, angry, lonely, or tired."

Because being the president of the United States is rather stressful (for proof, look no further than President Obama's gray hair), it can be difficult for the chief executive to think clearly or leave his job behind to spend time with his family. "The president needs to have time to eat, sleep, and be merry, so that he's not consumed by [his] responsibilities to the exclusion of that which allows [him] to be human – to talk with the spouse, or worry about the children, or pay attention to the grandchildren, or see what's going on with friends," Card explains. By understanding that the most powerful man in the world is still just that – a man – and adjusting his expectations accordingly, Card decreased his own anxiety about day-to-day arguments.

While the average boss-employer relationship is not quite as scrutinized as the chief of staff's rapport with the president, the lesson still applies: Understand that work is only part of your boss's life and be considerate (but not nosy) about his or her well-being outside the office. Physics applies: Respect that what goes up will come back down.