Difficult Boss

How to deal with a difficult boss

We spend most of our day in the office, so having a difficult boss can be one of the toughest challenges to overcome, but it’s not impossible.

Bosses with a negative attitude can contaminate the workplace. Some undermine you and your ideas in an open and direct manner, while others subtly manipulate their employees, using them as pawns in their quest for victory.

No matter how these bosses choose to disrespect their employees, they are likely to cause irrevocable damage to the company, and psychological damage to their employees by stunting performance and creating unnecessary stress.

At times, resigning may seem like the best option, but you have to weigh up your financial options before you quit. While these options may seem limited, there are some strategies you may want to consider before you submit your resignation letter.

Instead of enduring a bad or toxic boss in quiet agony, gather your thoughts and consider these options:

Consider a transfer or a secondment to another department

If you enjoy working at the company, consider taking some time to job shadow someone within the organisation or take on responsibilities outside the realms of your job spec to gain experience and exposure to the different facets that make up the business. Do your research and apply for positions in a different department, or jobs that have a different direct-manager.

Give your boss feedback

Take every opportunity to provide concise and unemotional feedback to your boss on their abusive behaviour. One-on-one interactions are the best time for feedback, so schedule a meeting and mention specific examples and situations in which your boss disrespected you and firmly, yet calmly, state that such behaviour is unacceptable.

Take notes and make reminders for yourself

With a toxic boss, you do not want to be caught up in crossfire. Therefore, ensure that you protect yourself. In meetings, take notes of what you need to execute and ensure that you meet all your deadlines. Ask clarifying questions. Use active listening techniques and repeat back to the boss what they say just to make certain you are both on the same page.

Seek advice from your HR personnel or ethics committee

Abusive behaviour is against company rules, culture and processes and as an employee you may not be aware of the legal steps to take. Keep records of all abusive behaviour and correspondence. It’s advisable to request assistance and advice from internal sources.

Take control of your own career path

Be prepared at all times. Whether you are content or unhappy in your workspace, boosting your talents, gaining experience and showcasing your achievements is crucial for survival and victory in the workplace.


If you have tried your best to cope with your bosses’ behaviour, but things aren’t changing, consider alternative options. Changing your role will protect your physical and mental health, and allow you to thrive in your job.

What shouldn’t you do when you have a toxic boss?

  • Confront your boss when you are emotional.
  • Humiliate your boss.
  • Avoid, ignore or bypass the boss.
  • Speak in a language the boss does not understand just to prove a point.
  • Use alcohol and toxic drugs to cope with stress.
  • Use threatening language.
  • Take consecutive sick leave days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *