Tips on Dealing With a Boss You Hate

Nancy Anderson
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A bad manager isn't always easy to spot during interviews, so you might get stuck with a boss who makes work a nightmare. But no matter how your boss behaves, you still have to do your job to the best of your ability. By learning to manage different personalities, you can succeed in any job and show others you have leadership skills. Try these tips to maintain a positive relationship with a boss you hate.

Hold Your Tongue

Taking orders and accepting criticism is part of your job. It isn't smart or productive to challenge everything your boss says and does, even if a superior is wrong. Leave your ego at home and think about which battles are really worth fighting.

Reflect Before You Respond

When your issues with your boss are about differences of opinion rather than an abuse of power, consider that you may be overreacting to the situation. It might be useful to come up with a personal mantra that reminds you to pause and reflect on the exchange before you respond. Even taking a few seconds to think clearly may help you control an outburst.

Show Compassion

Bad managers are often good people who are struggling with overwhelming responsibility. Showing compassion may make your boss realize he isn't alone and doesn't have to hide his flaws from the team.

Offer to help with a project your boss hates or invite him to lunch to enjoy some one-on-one time. Getting to know your manager outside of a tense workspace may give you perspective about the pressures of being a leader. If you see your boss as a human with a complex, layered personality, you're less likely to write him off as a bad manager.

Set Boundaries

Whether it's burying you with work or calling you at all hours of the day, bad managers take advantage of you as long as you allow it. You can stand up for yourself without being disrespectful by setting clear boundaries.

Don't give a bad manager free reign over your work life. In a calm, professional tone, let your boss know what is acceptable while offering up options. For example, say: "I do my best work when I know what projects to prioritize. If project A is most important, I can put project Z on hold and focus on meeting this crucial deadline."

Study Your Boss's Communication Style

Does your boss only behave poorly toward you or all subordinates? Pay attention to common triggers that bring out your manager's bad qualities. Does your boss get snippy just before looming deadlines? Does she find fault with you after being criticized by a superior? Many bad managers lack core leadership skills, and their behavior isn't a personal attack on you. Try not to internalize your boss's negativity.

Apply for Internal Transfer

It's wise to stay on your boss's good side if he has influence in the company. When you like the company and leaving isn't an option, consider transferring to another department. That way, you can continue growing in the company and avoid a grueling job search.

Be thankful for employment and accept that frustrating bosses are part of the package. Have you ever dealt with bad managers? Can you share some effective coping strategies?

Photo courtesy of St. Croix Support at


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  • Robert Duran
    Robert Duran

    Very true

  • Rhonda C.
    Rhonda C.

    I feel the same way

  • Wendy H.
    Wendy H.

    Thanks wish I would have read this before! I hate coming to work when I use to love it! I will post this!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Cathy Romero thanks for your comment and so sorry for what you have endured. It's hard to think about doing 2 more years at a company like that. We wish you all the best on finding a new position with a company that really cares how their management acts!

  • Cathy Romero
    Cathy Romero

    Its not that easy..after 28 years with my job I just couldn't make it to 30. Management was hottebdoud ..I retired while I still had chances to find something else to fill my days.

  • Jocelyn O.
    Jocelyn O.

    Life is too short. If your supervisor is doing something illegal or against company policy report him or her; otherwise transfer out or get another job all together.’Remember to enjoy what you do, do it well and expect those around you, especially your supervisors to do the same. You and the world will be much better off for it.

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