How to Deal with a Difficult Boss at Work

Even if you love your job and the work you do, a horrible boss can change that almost instantly. If you have a mean boss, it can ruin the work environment. The best thing you can do is to try to understand what’s making your boss so impossible and try to work with them. They may practice the wrong etiquette with their employees, but you don’t have to handle things in the same way.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between a tough boss and an abusive boss at work. We will cover different ways on how to handle a tough manager.

But, if your employer ever becomes verbally or physically abusive, that’s not something anyone should have to put up with on a day-to-day basis. An employer who is a bully, or a boss bullying their staff, isn’t appropriate. Even if you need the job, you shouldn’t have to put up with any abuse from your employer.

If you have a demanding boss, try to find some common ground. It might feel impossible to do at times. But, if you’re stuck in your job or you don’t want to quit, trying to get along with your employer is necessary. Giving them the benefit of the doubt and trying to understand why they might seem like such an incompetent boss can make your job go a lot more smoothly.

How to Get Along with a Difficult Boss

In a perfect world, we’d all have bosses and managers who treat their employees well. Employers like that are out there, and some people love their bosses. But, many times managers let their power and egos get the best of them. This can turn them into people who are challenging to work with and work under.

So, what makes a bad manager? The characteristics of a poor boss might feel different for everyone. What bothers you may not bother someone else. But, some less-than-shining qualities are relatively consistent among awful bosses.

A bad manager will usually be short-tempered, quick to judge, and unproductive. They might even seem incompetent but are in love with the power they have over others. When they use that power to start bullying their employees or harassing them, it can become a severe problem.

This guide will focus on how you can deal with a terrible boss. If you can manage to stick around and fight your natural instincts to say something negative to your employer, it should work out better for you in the long run.

Is it Them, Or Is It You?

Before you automatically decide you don’t like your boss or leave your current job, take a look at what they’re doing to make you upset. What makes them a demanding boss? Sometimes, we can be too hard on our managers because of pre-conceived notions or stereotypes. They can get a bad reputation before we even give them a fair chance.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, give yourself the opportunity to watch your boss for a while. Observe their behavior and how they treat people. When they do something you don’t like, stop and think about why. Instead of judging them right away, consider why they might have treated someone that way. You should try to put yourself in your employer’s shoes for a while. Sometimes, what we think of as a horrible boss can just be a misunderstanding or miscommunication.

Make sure you understand how you feel about your job in general before judging your boss, too. If you’re unhappy at work or feeling unfulfilled, it can be easy to take it out on your employer. We tend to want to find someone to blame when we aren’t happy. A boss can be an easy target. Instead of automatically deciding that you’re working with a bad boss, take a look at your attitudes. It may be time for you to look for another career.

Keep Up the Good Work

What do you do when your boss yells at you? You should keep doing your job as well as you possibly can. In fact, you should try to do an even better job. It’s important not to let your boss’ behavior affect your work performance. Chances are, there are other people within your company that will notice. Even your boss’ boss is more important, so you should continue to work as though you’re trying to impress them. Let your boss’ negative attitude be your motivation to work harder and get more done.

It can be tempting to try to teach your boss a lesson by working slowly or turning in subpar work. That will only make you feel worse about yourself and could put your job in jeopardy. Even if your boss treats you poorly, you should always continue to do the best work you can. By doing this, you’ll still have an opportunity to feel good about your job, and you might be noticed by someone else for a job well done.

If you stay the course and do your best work all the time, it’s going to be harder for your boss to find things to yell at you about. You can diffuse these troublesome situations by keeping a positive attitude and a strong work ethic.

Expect and Get Ahead

One good way to avoid getting pushed around by your boss is to try to stay one step ahead of them. If you know a project is due in a week, try to get it done in a few days. Expect the things they might be frustrated about, and make sure they get done. Then, when your boss brings them up with the intentions of getting angry, you can diffuse the situation.

For example, if your boss gets furious about people showing up to work on time, try to get there ten minutes early every day. By keeping track of what triggers their anger, you can stay one step ahead of them, and diffuse a situation before it starts.

This might seem like a lot of work, but if you can learn the things your boss cares about and gets upset about, you can stay ahead and avoid getting yelled at. In fact, you might be able to change the entire relationship between you and your boss, and they’ll know they can come to depend on you. If they don’t feel as stressed about the necessary work getting done, they may be more willing to soften and be nicer to work with.

They Don’t Know It All

Some people with a mean boss will do whatever they can to fight back and stand up. Others will sit by and do nothing because they assume their boss knows what they’re talking about. Neither of these options is healthy.

If you’re being mistreated at work by an employer, it’s not okay to accept it just because you think your boss knows everything. Keep in mind that they are only a person, and they make just as many mistakes as anyone else. They’ve been given a title, but it doesn’t mean they are always right.

Because of their title of authority, it’s important to respect your boss and listen to what they have to say. But, if they’re wrong about something, you shouldn’t accept it and ‘do it anyway’ just because of that title. Your knowledge and skills are valid, and if your boss says or does something wrong, don’t be afraid to disagree or suggest a better alternative.

boss bullying staff and what can be done

Be the Boss of Your Department

Again, it’s important to respect those in positions of authority. You should never go behind your boss’ back and try to micromanage a specific area of your business. But, you can show leadership skills that might make an impact on the people you work with every day.

If you know your job inside and out, or how your particular department works day after day, don’t be afraid to step up and be a leader. You can push people to get things done, be encouraging, and give direction. Most people are looking for someone to follow. If you become that person, you can create a better working environment for yourself, and your fellow employees. When your boss does come around, it likely won’t feel as intimidating.

Don’t step on your boss’ toes, and don’t try to act as though you have more authority than they do. But, if you can prove yourself as a leader, you’ll likely get more respect from your manager, and they’ll be less likely to pick on you.

Distance Yourself

Most people think that because they have to work with their employer or underneath them every day, that no boundaries can be in place. This isn’t true. It’s important to set boundaries if you have a boss who is a tyrant. Distancing yourself as much as possible from their anger and outbursts can make your job more comfortable for you.

This practice looks different for everyone, because of different work proximities. Obviously, you won’t be able to avoid your boss all the time, even if they are on a rampage. But, being able to distance yourself from the drama they bring to the table as often as possible can create a different environment for you. It may also inspire other co-workers to do the same.

Don’t avoid your boss. Running and hiding from them will be obvious, and they may seek you out. But, keeping yourself at a respectable distance can help you to manage the stress they bring to the table.

Take Notes

A common complaint of angry bosses is that no one is paying attention to them, listens to what they say, etc. You can remedy for this and keep yourself out of hot water by always taking notes. Whenever you have a meeting, or whenever your boss gives you any instruction, write it down. You don’t have to use these notes as leverage against them. But, if they later say something that contradicts what was mentioned earlier, you can reference them back to your records.

By doing this, they’ll have to clarify what they mean, no matter the subject. In the meantime, you’ll have the chance to protect yourself from any miscommunication or confusion. Once your boss knows you take good notes and you’re listening to them, there’s a good chance they’ll be less quick to get angry with you in the future.

Keep in mind, though, that if you do prove to take quality notes, your boss will come to expect it. If you’re going to start doing something like this, make sure you keep it up. Don’t start and stop, or it defeats the purpose of how well this can work.

If you want to go one step further, memorialize everything your boss says in meetings, and then send it to him/her. Create a document with your understanding of everything they want, and then send them a quick e-mail. This will give your employer time to look everything over again. It will cut down on confusion, and they’ll be impressed that you took the time to clarify everything they had to say.

Learn from Others

One of the best ways to avoid getting on your boss’ bad side is to learn from the mistakes of others. You can either talk to someone who worked for the bad boss before or pay attention to other co-workers. Your employer didn’t just walk into work one day and decide to start being angry. It’s more likely that it’s a long-standing behavior that many different employees have had to deal with.

So, observe the employees your boss seems to pick on the most. What do they do to trigger anger or frustration? If you talk to a previous employee, find out why they are no longer at that job. You can learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid stepping on certain traps that others have fallen into in the past with just a little bit of outside research.

How to handle an abusive boss at work

Don’t Accept Abuse

Though the above tips can make it easier to handle a difficult manager, certain lines should never be crossed. Emotional and sexual abuse are common in the workplace. One of the worst parts of these situations is they often go untold by the victims for a long time. This type of abuse can make people feel ashamed or embarrassed, or even like they did something wrong.

Dealing with a boss who gets angry or frustrated easily is annoying, but can be dealt with. Dealing with a boss who bullies and intimidates others should not be tolerated. Reporting a lousy boss should never be something that makes you feel nervous. Anyone who shows inappropriate behavior at work should be reported to human resources, no matter what their position is.

If you have personally been bullied by your boss in any way, it’s vital that it’s taken care of right away. It’s the job of the human resource department to handle such things as quickly as possible. If you do report something and it isn’t handled in a timely matter, it may not be worth it to stay in that job for the long-term.

Prevent a Repeat in the Future

Dealing with a terrible boss can be frustrating at the time. It might not seem fair that you have to handle someone’s outbursts and anger all the time. But, if there is one good thing about having a bad boss, it’s that you can use it as a learning experience.

When you’re getting a new job, do your research ahead of time. Ask other employees about the environment, see what people are saying online, etc. The more research you do, the better chance you’ll have of avoiding another job with a lousy boss.

Should I Stay at a Job with a Difficult Boss?

There are instances in which dealing with a difficult boss is something you’ll have to live with. Not every employer you come across will be nice or encouraging. It’s up to you to determine how you’ll respond to it. But, it can be done productively and effectively. You don’t have to let a terrible manager ruin your entire work experience.

Of course, there are other instances in which you should leave your place of employment. Getting verbally abused in any way isn’t worth it, no matter how great your job might be otherwise.

Dealing with a difficult boss doesn’t have to be impossible. If you’re willing to adjust your habits and work with your boss instead of against them, you should be able to find some harmony. Some bosses will never change their horrible attitudes. So, using the tips in this article can make it easier to deal with them, and keep doing your job.

If your boss is being unfair in the workplace, further investigation is required.