Back To Career News

3 Ways to Deal With a Difficult Boss


Think about your least favorite jobs. Odds are, your boss was partly to blame. Bad managers are the number one reason people leave their jobs. Of course, if you’re not quite at the point where you can turn in your resignation, you’ll need to figure out ways to make your situation more tolerable.

bad boss 

(Photo Credit: betsystreeter/Flickr)

1. Look for triggers.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If your boss is a yeller, it might be worth your while to look for things that set her off, and try to avoid them. This is not to say that it’s your responsibility to manage her bad behavior.

“The only way to deal with an abusive boss is not to take personally the fact that he or she regularly loses self- control,” says Robert C. Pozen at Fast Company. “The boss’s unacceptable behavior has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with his or her own problems, which you can’t fix.”

Still, if you can make your life easier if you can avoid behaviors that give her an excuse to yell. If lateness is a problem, for example, you can get in earlier. But if your boss likes to play the blame game for things that are beyond your — or any human’s — control, you might need to have a serious conversation with her.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

“Avoid getting your ego hooked and engaging in arguments over minutia,” Joyce Marter, CEO of Urban Balance, tells Refinery29.

Do whatever you need to do to make sure your self-esteem isn’t coming from a boss that is unlikely to bolster it. Practice daily affirmations, write in a journal, vent with friends. Most of all, pay attention to your own verbal cues. If you hear yourself telling stories that sound ludicrous when spoken aloud, it’s time to develop some perspective.

3. Know when to involve HR.

Don’t escalate the situation until you have to, but if you’re tried putting things in perspective, and managing the situation yourself, and things are still terrible, it might be time to bring things to someone else’s attention. But know that you’re crossing a line when you do, and that you won’t be able to go back.

“Understand that your current boss may never forgive you, so ensure you have done what you can do with him, before taking your issues up the line,” says Susan Heathfield at’s Human Resources site.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your tips for dealing with a difficult boss? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Read more from Jen

Leave a Reply

Notify of
What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.