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The Boss from Hell! How to Deal with a Bad Boss

The bad news is that if the toxic person is your boss, then you have a very, very tough situation. The good news is that it’s not impossible. You do have options (though none are really great).

In any workplace, it’s smart to “manage up,” which means you should manage and establish a relationship with your boss in a mutually beneficial fashion. You need to make the boss look good and do what it takes to be in his or her good graces. There is nothing wrong with a little ingratiation, which is not the same thing as brown nosing. If you’ve established a good relationship with your boss, you may be able to talk the problem through. But if not, you’ve basically got four choices, none of which is great, but two of which are certainly doable:

  1. Leave the company.
  1. Try to change your boss’s behavior.
  1. Change your situation at work by getting a new job within the company. If you like where you work just not for whom you work, investigate the possibility of switching teams or moving into a different position. This may be the spur you need to move up or around.
  1. Accept the situation and develop strategies to unhook yourself emotionally from your boss’s behavior. Here’s how:
  • Reframe how you see things. Change your mental model about what is going on. Instead of seeing your boss as an insensitive jerk, try to see him as someone who is scared and in over his head.
  • Hope for the best, but expect the worst. Stop expecting your boss to be someone he/she isn’t. Prepare for worst-case encounters.
  • Practice emotional detachment. Stop linking your self-worth to jerks at work. Find another way to value yourself.
  • Limit your exposure. Meet with your boss as rarely as possible. Do whatever you can to create buffers.
  • Build pockets of safety. Find people with whom it is safe to vent and create strategies, a sort of victim support group.

Dealing with a bad boss can be a nightmare. You really have to decide if your job is worth it. If it is, then you have to determine the best way to deal with it. The above tips should help, and here are two good articles for more reading:

”How to Deal with a Difficult or Bullying Boss,” by Ronald Riggio, Psychology Today


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