How to Deal with a Difficult Boss?


We have all seen it, many have experienced it. Unfortunately there are some bosses out there whose behavior can be questioned from time to time. Right here I am giving you five points that need attention.

deal with bad bossesDid your boss once again not keep his word? Are you insulted by him? Passed over for promotion?  Actually you should not be surprised. Your boss will ignore your ideas, tends to always humiliate you and expects at all times that you can read his thoughts. Even worse is that he does not want to talk about it.

What can you do?

What are your options if you are undermined by those whose approval you need just so hard? You can submit your resignation or contact HR. But a company is like a casino, the house always wins. If you feel the anger bubbling up again, then first try one of the eight tips listed below that will help you to better deal with your boss.

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1 He bombards you with worka lot of work

Your boss is flooding your mailbox with additional commands. This probably means simply that he himself is under high pressure, a huge workload and trying to pass this on to his team. It is a tactic that often occurs in stressed and career-oriented bosses. But that does not mean that you should not stand up for yourself when the workload cannot be handled. Try to understand that strategy, otherwise, you will suffer from this.

2 He does not give you enough work

Normally your boss gives you masses of important jobs, but now he “forgets” you when dividing the jobs. That could be enough to make you think that he has lost confidence in you. But look beyond your nose. Is it not because of the lower level of activity in your department or even in the entire company? Only if everyone groans under the workload except you, something is seriously amiss.

3 He ignores you

ignores employeesLittle contact, few comments or feedback on your work … Normally you talk regularly with your boss, but now he suddenly is so distant. Probably you worry unnecessarily. It’s your boss himself who has changed. Maybe he has just had a promotion, after which it is logical that he will distance himself. Whether he has other reasons on his mind: an extra portion of stress or personal problems can make him react differently. But if you really suffer of the detachment, do not hesitate to talk to him about it.

4 He shows little sympathy

Bosses are different from regular colleagues. They find good personal relations less important. They are higher in the hierarchy and focus on achieving their – imposed – objectives. For example, it happens more often than not that a chef speaks to his team during a meeting in a very motivating and friendly manner, but 10 minutes later in the hallway just walks past you without saying anything. Do not worry about this and do not take it personally.

5 He’s lying to youbad bosses are liers

If you catch your boss lying, then it becomes an entirely other matter. It could be an important sign of a deteriorating relationship. If your boss lets you pay for a decision he has taken himself for example, then you could be in dire straits. If you happen to have a fair boss, then you can discuss and solve most things with him. But with a liar, this is almost impossible. Worst case, confidence is broken and you better leave the team.

What can you do about an unfair boss?

1 Count to ten

Your first impulse will be to strike back. You already fantasize about making public the rotten behavior of your boss or sending an email to the management. Such thoughts have their uses but do not put them immediately into action. Is an impulsive action worth losing your job? Is it worth a gap in your CV? In today’s economy, it is not wise to show your pride if you want to win.

2 Go with the flow

go with flowYou have been cheated or treated unfairly. Welcome to the real world. Let us not be tempted to be bitter or indifferent there. Let your boss not get to you just like that. Nod and smile politely when he comes again with a self-glorifying sermon. Pretend it does not touch you especially if you have the job of your dreams. Show respect even if you have lost your confidence already. You’ll still have to cope with a number of bastards in your further career. So get used to it.

3 Prepare for a showdown

Start collecting references and recommendations from clients, colleagues, prominent figures in your industry. Prepare a file of all the positive feedback on your work. Give particular focus on activities that produce measurable results. Moreover, they increase your chances as the next career step presents itself.

4 Forge Alliancesseek help

Decide which path you ultimately want. Learn the key players known in that department. Go to lunch with them. Help them relieve the pressure to prove that you are ready for the next step. Make contact with a mentor or boss of your boss. They can provide direction, expertise and even references. Increase your visibility by participating in committees and consultative bodies. If your boss is still trying to debase you, the many other contacts may help refute his claims.

5 Do not jump to conclusions

Sometimes there is more going on than you know. Maybe your boss is being held from above. Maybe your boss is suffering under an excessive workload or he has personal problems and you currently are simply not a top priority for him. It may be that your boss has no idea how his or her behavior comes across to you. After all, a boss is only human.

6 Pull the straps with your boss

Everyone likes to be praised. As does your boss just as well. Maybe you should just look for more contact with your boss, instead of pulling out. Ask what you need to do or learn to get ahead. See if you can become the right hand of your boss. Learn about his faults and weaknesses: drive yourself in asking the right questions and giving solutions. Anyway, this is a great exercise for what really runs in the business world: anticipation, flexibility, engagement and maintaining relationships, cooperation and development.

7 Focus on the big picture

bad bossesFirst your boss shames your confidence; then he demands of you to remain positive. He chides you for your behavior, then does exactly the same. You can be fierce and develop an ulcer but you can also make the best of it. Focus on gaining experience, increasing your skills and improving your posture and attitude. Remember the daily humiliations, so you’ll never be like your boss. However, remember that your boss has not come up by chance in his job, and learn the tricks of the trade that brought him to that place. Be open to criticism and suggestions. 

8 Wait

If your boss really is a disaster, the chances are that his time is coming to an end within the company. Charm, connections and reputation give bosses only a certain degree of immunity. Sooner or later they come into conflict with someone who is higher in the hierarchy and then they can forget it. Consider your job in the meantime, as a means to an end and lay the foundation to achieve that goal. It can only get better.

What to do when all this does not work?

You could change the company or, better yet, why not start your own business working from home. Nowadays, the internet offers a great range of opportunities to make money on the side or even reach a full decent income.

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8 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Difficult Boss?”

  1. Reading this reminds me of an old boss I had. He’d always change procedure, try one new method then switch to another. He was never consistent! It was infuriating!
    You’re right of course, and clever in comparing companies to casinos. The house does always win! I left that job for maternity leave, and never went back. So glad I did!

    • Hi Dara, I am glad you recognize the picture and it is good for you that you did something about it. Many of us just sit and wait for things to get better, which is about the worst you can do. In the end it might even affect your health! But sometimes a boss can be beat, read this article to cheer you up even more.

  2. Nice Jerry. Had no idea you were leading up to an affiliate promotion. Nicely done. I think we have all had bosses that at least at one time or the other fell into the categories you describe. If I had had the advice of your website in years past I would not have had so many jobs. I am the type that just tells the guy to take a hike. Then I am out the door. Also wish I had become involved in WA a lot sooner. Then I would never have had to worry about a bad boss because I am a wonderful boss. Thanks Jery

    • Hi Thurman, you sound a lot like me, not taking BS from anybody including your boss. The point I am trying to make is that you are likely to lose, but there are ways we can use that should not be discarded by anybody. It is not that we are completely defenseless. Getting emotional or calling names is certainly not going to help you, but you sure can put up a hell of a fight. I am trying to point people in the right direction just to do that. You might be interested in my latest article: how to get your boss fired. Cheers, Jerry

  3. Hi SiamJerry, this is such a pertinent topic. Bosses, how do you deal with them, some people unfortunately get given the most horrible bosses. I think the most important thing is to take action, whether you are going to endeavour to make your conditions slightly better or you are going to leave that existing job. It is so important to take action!!! Great website, good topics.

    • Hi Jotham, thanks for your interest. You are completely right that people need to take action one way or another and the sooner the better. It has been said that it takes employees an average of 22 months before they do something about their situation, in which case their health has already suffered. Cheers, Jerry

  4. I think these are some great tips. Obviously, if you are a good employee, you are going to be a hot commodity for the company. And if they treat you wrong, that’s just their fault, and they will see the outcomes of their actions. But I feel like most bosses in a job are unfair for the fact that a lot of them hate their job to begin with and take it out on you. lol That’s why you should just work for yourself!

    Great article!
    Matt TheDopestMatrix

    • Thanks Matt, you say some very true things. I have seen that even if you are a very good employee, you can still meet with a difficult boss, having to cope with his tricks. It might mean you will change employer. Cheers, Jerry


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