How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

It’s your third month on the job, and you’re finally starting to figure out how things work. You know who Meryl in accounting is, understand the ins and outs of your product, and know just where to park.

But as the months go by, you realize that your boss has a tendency to put you down. Suddenly your ideas “just aren’t right for the current project,” or “might be better for next year.”

You aren’t being taken seriously as a person or an employee.

Discovering that your boss doesn’t respect your expertise can ruin your work ethic and drain your enthusiasm. But if you aren’t in a position to quit, here are a few ways to excel, even with a disrespectful boss.

Be Civil

You don’t have to be a jerk just because your boss is. You don’t have to like them, but don’t try to go above them to their manager or spread rumors about them at the water cooler. Also stay away from complaints or insults. Regardless of how bad they are at managing you, they’re still your boss. Trying to upset that basic dynamic makes you look like the disruptive one. That could mean losing your job.

Try to have an honest and polite conversation with your boss about any problems you have. It’s entirely possible your boss doesn’t even realize they’re doing a poor job of managing you. If you can alert them to any issues that exist without accusing them of anything, you might be able to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

But how do you do that? If your boss refuses to value your insights, how do you address the problem without offending them?

The best thing you can do in that situation is research. Back your ideas up with facts and data. If your boss says no to that, you’re dealing with a deeper problem and might want to consider rejoining the job search.

Keep it Off Social Media

This one could have gone under “Be Civil,” but it’s so important that it needs its own section. Do NOT complain about your boss or work on social media. Not even cryptic messages such as “Feeling down today…” or “People can be so awful….” Odds are that other employees, or even your manager will find these posts, and it could be grounds for termination.

Become Your Own Manager

If your boss isn’t doing their job and continues to belittle you, you might have to become your own manager. Create a personal development plan and stick to it. Volunteer for any projects that you’re interested in. Learning new things and growing as an employee can be incredible motivators on their own.

You’re also free to seek out other managers or co-workers in the office that can act as your mentors or advisors. If you can’t learn from your manager, you might as well learn from somebody else.

Let It Go

The best way to deal with a bad boss is letting the pity party end. It’s completely valid to feel down or angry when you have a boss that doesn’t respect you, however, letting that feeling control your work life can be toxic.

You’ll always have an excuse for why you didn’t try as hard as you could have on a project, or why it’s OK to come in late every once in a while. It can become easy to think along the lines of “if my boss doesn’t care, why should I?” That stifles growth.

So let it go. Try not to hate your boss, and realize that their behavior most likely has nothing to do with you. Accept that their bad attitude is their problem, and not something that’s likely to change anytime soon. Focus on yourself and your own pursuits.

And if that boss makes your life absolutely miserable, review your job and where it stands on your career path. How much longer do you need to be here? Knowing that you have an exit point can make working with a bad boss much more bearable.

Ever had a bad boss? How did you deal with it? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments

  1. Renee J

    I have unfortunately had all manner of bad bosses and managers. At my last job, the assistant store manager was an overly catty individual who would constantly scrutinize my work, but give everyone else a pass. Plus every new idea i had to make things go smoother was brushed away consistently. It broke my morale, and i applied to many places looking for an out. Unfortunately, i was “let go” before anything could come forward. They let me go because that manager did not like me, as well as had other employees reporting back on my work ethic, things that were untrue. Last i heard, the store is not doing well. A lot of the regular customers don’t come in anymore, and the new employees are stealing.

    One thung this has taught me, is to not care so much. It is wholy unfair sometimes, especially in retail, but it happens.

    1. Randall Eberly

      Renee:

      Sorry to hear this has been done to you…I once (many years ago) had a boss who took over for another boss who constantly ran me down (not only that, he constantly lied about doing so…he not once, but twice, told me that I was not very intelligent (which was interesting since I once told what was wrong with a chart with just a simple glance that no one else noticed)…He also told me that he checked to see that I was not faking an illness (I missed a total of 4 days in over 2 1/2 years on that job…better than anyone else on the job…and charts showed that I was significantly more efficient, productive, and accurate on the jobs that I did than anyone else in the department, yet, like you, was the only one downgraded for his performance)…I took a temporary second job…looking for it to replace the job, but once I was publicly reprimanded for something I didn’t even have responsibility for…I quit outright (that temporary job eventually hired me permanently. It was a much better job…paid better…had better co-workers…better benefits…and, in spite of the fact that my boss was much younger, and did not have a high school diploma, let alone a college degree…could have taught the other boss A LOT about management…

  2. John Scott

    Yes, I worked in a corporate office for 13 years, when seven people tell you what they need all at the same time , best thing to do was have a strong realisation whith department VP’s and above “keeping the higher up’s happy makes everyone happy”

  3. Marie

    I am in a new career – which I told my boss when I interviewed for the job. However, training has been minimum – actually almost next to nothing. He yells at me for something other people have done. On good days he’s sulky and snappy or extremely talkative to the point of not being able to do my job. It’s like working with 3 different people – the sulky drama queen teenager (everyone else is wrong, the world is against me – I have to do everything) the pyscho bad tempered, yelling at me throwing papers around. I want to try to hang on until I am a year here and then leave – even if I dont’ have a job! I am not getting any training – whenever I ask about how to do something he says he doesn’t have time to train me. The problem is – he’s the owner of the business so I have no one else to go to! I am not getting training, and my self confidence is at an all time low! I’ve tried everything – but am now just keeping my head down and treading water until I can leave!

  4. Lenora Moore

    I have had bosses that were not kind as they dealt with so much stress that they transferred it over to me as if it were my fault. I felt I could not do anything right and they could not do anything wrong. Also there was not any communication with us either. I have not said anything negative about them but did not like how they were treating me and personally did not like their spirit.
    Over time it changed when I began to correct them or share with them how I was feeling it made it easier to work and feel better while I was working.
    There was one in particular who wanted to have everything done her way and did not like her boss as she did not want to deal with her. My supervisor was on vacation and I began a new position and needed help and her boss was the only one I could turn to. She was kind when I spoke with her and helped me. I saw a different side of her than what I heard about her. From that point on I was not afraid or scared of her. I could share what I was feeling not only to her but to my direct supervisor. They still have their issues but can deal with them differently.

  5. Yvonne Haney

    I have done this exact thing listed in this article, I will provide you facts and let it go that is the best advice, if you don’t you will be miserable and it is not worth the stress on your everyday life!

    1. Ana Phila

      Some people do not have what it takes to be a boss, people that act like the only way they do things is the right way and think people should learn a bunch of information in an unreasonable amount of time well, that kind people are not good dealing with training employees so they do not not not not deserve to be a boss or supervisor!

  6. Donna

    The only way out of having a bad boss is to find another job. My old HR rep gave me this advice, she was right. If you don’t leave on your own, your resentment will boil to the surface and hurt your performance, work relationships, etc. Start sending your resume out, or apply for other work ASAP, one can only handle so much. You can’t change others, only yourself…

  7. Sourou SEWANOU

    well, we are really hurt when somebody points out that we made we made a mistake or could have done something better. It happens to everyone. Nobody does a job perfectly.This is important to the boss. when bosses or managers have to correct their employees, it is not fun for them. They just want to get it over with and get back to more important matters.
    So the Best way to deal with a difficult boss, even if I m 100% sure that I m right, I listen first, and I make sure that I completely understand what he thinks I did and I just ask how to avoid the situation again, hear the response.
    thanks

  8. Pamala

    Sometimes bosses are just people with their own set of problems. They usually have a boss, too! Hint: There are no perfect bosses or employees! It is easy to forget. Having some empathy for THEIR perspective and embracing that could be the attitude change required to shift their opinion OF YOU. It’s not all about you. It’s not all about the management. It is about helping the person you work for achieve their business goal AS WELL AS YOUR OWN. Not one response here talked about teambuilding or team impact.
    You can keep your head down all you want and work very hard. Avoidance of issues won’t help you resolve them. And sadly, when you are busy with the job search to move on, you are already one foot out the door at work. I understand people need a paycheck, but sometimes, if management’s behavior is bad enough, it needs to be called to the mark immediately. THROWING PAPERS AROUND, behaving aggressively, being verbally abusive…If you are afraid of your boss or fear that person might actually HIT YOU, QUIT for cause and file for unemployment.

    The stress of working under a manager like that will make you sick. Quit and move on. Trying to find a replacement job under that kind of stress will bleed through as desperation in an interview. I did that, and I would have been better to just quit outright.

  9. Dee

    Some let their position go to their head. Also, if you perform better then they, I have experienced their insecurity when they should appreciate how good you make them look. I’ve hard bosses that when you talk to them, they get harder on you but that is because they have EQ issues and truly should not be in the authoritive position. Karma, in time, will catch up to their unethical and inhumane ability to be a leader. Have even dealt with a few bully bosses and they make life at work miserabl. What is amazing, are companies that don’t realize their high turnover rate is due to not treating employees with respect and dignity. I have had a few good bosses but the position was not what I wanted to do, or the company restructured. When I do get a bad boss or company to work for, eventually I find another job.

  10. Ann Johnson

    Thank for all the advice, but sometimes it is easier said than done when you have a manager or supervisor that do not know how to manage.

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