12 Ways to Deal With a Bad Boss

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In an ideal world, managers or bosses would understand that a happy worker is more productive than a stressed-out one. However, that’s not how the world works, so most people have had interesting experiences with bosses. Dealing with a demanding boss is often more stressful than any work, but not all is lost. There are some things you can do if you’re living a daily nightmare of a bad boss.

Try to understand them 

There is a saying, “People don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.” While this is almost 100 percent true, if you are stuck with a lousy boss, try to understand what drives them. Ask yourself what keeps them up at night or what their stance is on success and failure. The more you get into your boss’s head, the more likely you will use language they understand. That should help avoid conflicts. 

Speak up and listen 

Did you know that one Gallup survey estimated that only 50% of employees clearly understand what their manager expects? A simple conversation can often clarify things, but if you have a lousy boss and work in a toxic environment, you are likely not encouraged to speak up. Instead of gossiping or suffering in silence, voice your concerns and listen to what your boss has to say. 

Do not take it personally 

Regardless of how your boss makes you feel, it is not personal. Try releasing stress through exercise and meditation, and whenever your bad boss negatively affects your emotions, recognize and work through these situations. Resentment or outrage can negatively affect your work and mental health. If you can’t change your boss, you can work on how you react to their presence. 

Do not gossip 

Venting about your boss to your coworkers is expected but only increases workplace negativity. Bad-mouthing your boss reflects poorly on you, and since you don’t know who’s listening, you could end up with a complaint in HR. Also, do not talk badly about others to your boss, hoping it will make them treat you better. It could raise red flags, and again, you would end up looking bad. 

Imitate your boss 

Watch and learn to match your boss’s style. By “imitating” your boss’s preferences and behaviors, you are managing your boss. This does not include wearing matchy ties or having similar hairstyles. It is about their management style, decision-making, and communication skills. The more you match them, the more they will see you as a leader, a reflection of themselves. 

Stand your ground 

If you have a pushy, noisy, loud, obnoxious boss who acts like a schoolyard bully, you must treat them like one. If you let them intimidate you, they will only continue pushing until your breaking point. But if you stand up for yourself and don’t give them any power over you, they will likely find another victim. 

Be the leader 

If your boss is not only difficult but also incompetent, you should take the leadership role and do what’s best for the company. Sure, your boss might take the credit, but they are in charge, and you do not want to create an enemy out of someone who can squash your career. Instead, use your leadership skills to improve your relationship with your lousy boss. 

Take tips from relationship counseling 

Once your boss finishes their daily brief, repeat what you heard and ask if that was what they meant. Once you are sure you understand the assignment, follow through. Instead of confronting, express your concerns. Do not assume, but ask instead. Dealing with difficult bosses often involves getting creative, and taking tips from couples’ counseling is a clever way to establish a calmer relationship.

Find what triggers them 

If you’re dealing with an aggressive boss or manager obsessed with micromanaging everyone’s work, find what makes them tick and avoid it like a plague. For example, if your boss is number-obsessed, make sure to triple-check your report. 

Do not make empty promises 

If you told your boss you understood the assignment, make sure you did. Never be in a situation where you overpromised and underdelivered. Being proactive and knowing how to do your job will impress even the most difficult bosses. Even the worst bosses will leave you alone if they can count on you because you reflect their management skills.

Set boundaries 

You can’t change your boss easily, but you can express clearly and efficiently what they should expect from you. If you have a toxic boss, articulate your work hours, responsibilities, and expectations, and don’t let them walk over you. Leave emotions out of your boundaries discussion and go straight to the point. If needed, write an email with your healthy, professional boundaries. 

Keep the paper trail 

Document your communication with your demanding boss. If they are not giving clear instructions or their emails are filled with negative comments unrelated to your quality of work, you can use this if necessary. No, we are not talking about blackmailing your boss, but if things get too stressful, you can follow the procedures and take everything to HR. 

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