How To Deal With A Difficult Boss
It’s safe to say that dealing with a difficult boss is a pretty universal experience. Recently, three out of four employees said their boss is the most stressful part of their job. The numbers speak for themselves! No matter the particulars, having a bad boss can be nerve-racking and affect your mental health, as shown by this research. Your complicated boss might have shown favoritism, bullied you, had a terrible management or communication style, or displayed anger issues in the workplace. Either way, there are effective and ineffective ways to finesse yourself through any difficult situations with a difficult boss.
Having a bad boss is not ideal, for sure. But it’s also not worth quitting your job over them unless the circumstances turn extreme. Sometimes you just need to adjust a few things and put in extra effort to improve your working relationship with your boss. If you wait it out instead of declaring war on your manager, the issue might even resolve itself. Still, it’s a tricky situation. So today’s article is dedicated to dealing with a difficult boss. Keep reading to learn our favorite strategies for how to deal with a difficult superior!
How To Deal With A Difficult Boss
First, try to have empathy.
I know, this might be difficult when you’re boss is bad vibes, but it’s always best to start with empathy. Are you truly dealing with a bad boss or is your superior just another human being going through something? Is this a constant problem, or just the stress of the moment? And could it just be me that your work approaches don’t mix too well? Maybe they’re new to being a leader and haven’t quite perfected their management style yet. Research shows 85% of managers are not confident in their leadership skills. So throw your boss a bone and consider that maybe they’re overcompensating for something.
Don’t be confrontational or react with emotion.
If you’re in an active confrontation with your boss and feeling overly emotional, take a breath. Rather than in the moment fighting back, crying, or losing it, do what you can to diffuse the situation. Once you’ve gathered your thoughts and feelings, you can ask for a meeting with your boss to discuss the situation. It’s never a good idea to handle things in the heat of the moment if you’re not able to communicate effectively.
Build a relationship with your boss through open communication.
If you haven’t tried being honest with your superior about your discomfort with their management style, this might be a great option. Remember, your conversation should not be accusatory or judgmental. Instead, focus on how you feel. Ask your manager if there is something you could be doing better. Let them know your goal is to perform well for them. Explain that you’ve felt they aren’t happy with your performance and you want to do better. Start there, open communication builds relationships. If you’re able to be respectful and honest, improving your relationship with your boss is possible with a simple conversation. Talk to your boss and tell them what you think could improve your working relationship in terms of support, communication, and direction. Be clear and precise. It’s best to be straightforward from the start than to deal with a rocky work dynamic for months!
Set boundaries to protect your mental health.
Setting boundaries is a challenge, but they’re still vital for a healthy work-life balance. Especially if you’re dealing with a difficult boss! Don’t let the situation take over or affect your personal life. Leave work calls, emails, and texts for work hours, especially if they’re aggressive. Limit how much personal information you offer up at work. Make sure you appropriately communicate what tasks you can or can’t take on. We have two resources to share with you that can help you protect your well-being from a bad boss. First, learn all about how to set boundaries in THIS episode of Pretty Smart. Second, head over to our article on the best mental health podcasts to listen to some strategic advice to protect your mind from any stressful situation.
Understand their goals and motivations.
Sometimes, a difficult boss could be getting some pressure of their own. It’s possible that their manager expects a lot worse than your boss expects of you. Lucky you, some of that intensity and stress then gets pushed on you. Observe your boss and try to understand their motivations. Are they hard on you to keep appearances for their superior? Are they micromanaging their staff because they feel the need to control every detail to avoid failure? You won’t know what their end goal is until you do some research or ask them directly. So make the effort to understand their objectives and speak to their core values.
Stop their behavior from affecting your work.
Even if you’re dealing with a difficult boss who seems like the worst superior on the planet, you still have a job to do. Don’t start a war with your boss. This will only make your daily work more extenuating! It’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, choose to forgive and move on. Do your best to ignore their behavior and stay focused on your job. Only talk to them if 100% necessary and keep showing up for yourself, even when it gets tough. This will show them you’re determined to succeed in your career even if they seem set on making things difficult for you.
Make adjustments to avoid clashing with their management style.
Perhaps all you need to do is make a few changes to avoid clashing with their management style. If your boss is a micromanager, then do your best to show them you can handle tasks on your own. In case your manager is a terrible communicator, ask them exactly what they need from you and tell them what you need as well. It’s all about the small changes that can make two people be on the same page. Even the tiniest of details can suddenly improve your working relationship with your boss! Tune in to THIS episode of ILYSM to get practical advice for handling conflict at work.
Take the courage to put your leadership skills into action.
When dealing with a bad boss, your whole team can feel a little lost. Take that stressful work situation and turn it around. It’s your opportunity to shine! If you feel ready, show off your leadership skills by taking action whenever your superior fails to do so. Be the leader your team needs. It’s as simple as telling your co-workers when they’ve done a good job. Or encouraging them to take on more difficult tasks. Maybe you offer a helping hand to a coworker that looks stressed.
However, be careful not to overstep. The goal is to be helpful to your team, not competitive with your boss. You don’t want to risk getting in trouble for disrupting the work environment. All it takes is that extra self-confidence to step up as the leader! Listen to THIS episode of Real Pod where Victoria shares where confidence comes from and how to make the most out of it.
Don’t gossip about your boss’s poor management style.
Look, we know it might be tempting to vent to your coworkers about how terrible your boss is. However, bad-mouthing your manager can get you in deep trouble with other managers, negatively impact the entire vibe and culture at the office, and potentially earn you a trip to the human resources department. Don’t go around creating chaos! You need to shift your mindset and stay focused. Criticizing your boss only deteriorates your working relationship with them even further. So keep your head down and continue doing your job! If you need more encouragement on how to turn obstacles into opportunities and shift your mindset forever, head over to THIS episode of Dear Gabby.
Try to be one step ahead of your boss.
Once you feel like you’ve gotten to know your boss, you can start to anticipate and avoid potential problems. If they always ask you for data to back up your marketing plan, provide it ahead of time. If your boss is a stickler for being on time, be on time. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a micromanager! For example, don’t wait for them to ask you if you finished your last assignment. Just send them the completed deliverable and tell them to let you know if there are any issues with it.
Also, self-reflection on your work performance will help you stay ahead of your boss too! There is a really great episode of TSC: Him & Her on how to make mistakes, recover, and learn from them.
Keep your stress at bay.
Work is stressful, even with the best boss in the world. So you must take time to make sure you’re keeping yourself healthy and feeling good. Stress can seriously take a toll on your body. So practicing stress management is absolutely key to success. You can try to keep stress levels at work down by listening to music while you work, taking breaks, creating a to-do list to keep you on track, and keeping your mindset at work positive. Use your breaks efficiently too, and don’t sit and gossip with coworkers. Instead, go for a walk outside, or bring a novel to read for 15 minutes. You can even tune in to your favorite podcasts. And definitely don’t forget to practice stress management techniques at home!
Listen to The Femails and Work Party for additional advice.
Sometimes a friendly voice works wonders! Podcasts are a great resource for those looking for practical advice on any subject. Lucky for you, we have two work/career-dedicated podcasts within the Dear Media family. Allow us to introduce you to these shows!
The Femails is a podcast by Career Contessa and the place to go if you need to revisit your career development strategy. This episode about overcoming workplace conflict and what to do if you hate your coworker gives some great advice that you can apply if you don’t like your boss as well!
Now let’s talk about the Work Party podcast. This podcast hosted by Jaclyn Johnson is for women who are redefining the meaning of work and want to get into the entrepreneurial side of business. Kick off your listening experience with this episode on how to disrupt an outdated industry!
Don’t suffer in silence or let yourself be bullied.
Finally, if your boss is truly just being difficult and there seems no end in sight, it might be time to move on. Remember, you don’t have to be miserable at your job. And finding a boss that is supportive of you and your goals is totally possible. There’s no excuse for your boss’s behavior to be toxic in the workplace. So keep your head up and share your story with a friend, let them support you through this. And if things get unbreakable, talk to the human resources department to get advice from those within your company. Maybe they’ll deal with your boss, or transfer you to another department, who knows!
If leaving is your best option, start making those moves girl! But no matter what, don’t let a difficult boss bully you and mess with your mental health. You deserve better! Give THIS episode of Life With Marianna a listen to get inspired and handle rejection like a pro.
What are your strategies for dealing with a difficult boss?
That’s all about how to deal with a complicated boss! We know this can be a delicate and challenging situation, so make sure to do what feels right for you. If you follow these tips and act from a place of mutual respect, you should see positive changes soon enough. However, if the situation gets worse no matter how hard you try, do what’s best for your mental health in the long run. Don’t be afraid to report your boss to HR or transfer to another department if the circumstances are taking a toll on your well-being. For now, try these strategies and see where it takes you. Good luck!