How to Deal with a Difficult Boss?


Sometimes when you take on a new job, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself in to, or perhaps changes in staff within your workplace can result in some truly horrible people leading teams of people. If this sounds like your situation, we have some tips on how to deal with a difficult boss.

Picture this, you work incredibly hard and showcase your dedication every day to your workplace by constantly giving it your all and delivering the best you can, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Your manager sees this and shows appreciation for all your tireless efforts. They are there to support you, help you succeed, make you feel valuable and you feel like you’ve finally found the right job. Doesn’t this sound perfect? Frustratingly though, this scenario seems more like a fantasy than reality.  

In an ideal world, we all have great working environments with our bosses but sometimes, in the real world, it isn’t that simple. Employed by someone who never seems to be happy with anything you do or finds fault in each task that is completed can be detrimental and cause a string of problems especially when being criticised or ignored are the only forms of communication you receive. 

Whether they show favouritism, have anger problems or are just a straight-up bully, knowing you must enter that workplace every day can make waking up difficult and can turn a dream career into a complete nightmare. 

There may be a multitude of reasons as to why leaving isn’t the solution, so we’ve gathered together some great tips to deal with your current situation and perhaps make your working day a bit more manageable. 


1. Figure out the situation

Not every scenario is simply black and white. There is probably some grey area that needs to be delved into. Could your boss be going through a difficult time? Is there stress? Are there immense deadlines at work? What’s the reason for this behaviour? There is no excuse for treating staff terribly but trying to find a deeper meaning could lead to more understanding on your part which can make work more tolerable for yourself and not have you rushing out the door. 


2. Try to understand your difficult boss

As stated in the prior point, understanding can be a magnificent tool in the workplace. Understanding their communication style (more or less, how they like it delivered via email or in person? Do they like updates?), understanding their motivation and why they do things (why are they upset over this situation that seems minuscule to me?) etc. Knowing what they are like as a person can help figure out their managerial style. Understanding from your part can help your relationship with your employer more than you realise. 


3. Keep your work 100%

Never let anyone affect how you complete your job. The sudden change in your work ethic and the drop-in standards can make you look as if you are slacking off and gives your boss more ammo. There is never a substitute for hard work so be patient. Your constant display of determination and brilliant work could cause a change in your bosses’ character. Stay focused, don’t let the negativity get to you on a personal level and keep pushing on. The excellent work you produce may keep your managers scorn at bay as well as showcasing your skills to other leaders in the workplace and potential employers. Never let anyone stop you from being the great employee that you know you are. 


4. Remain calm

Lashing out and defending yourself can seem like a great idea at that moment, but once the fire in your soul burns out, you might end up regretting it. A full-blown argument with your boss is never a good idea and can only lead to negative consequences whether it be a bad reputation, warnings or the worst-case scenario, jobless. Whatever situation arises, take a step back, breathe, assess the situation and ask yourself, “Will this matter to me in an hour?”. A calm personality and the ability to remain composed in a heated situation shows your maturity and earns yourself the respect of others.  

5. Identify what triggers them

If there are certain actions that cause them to just blow up, jot them down and make a conscious effort to avoid them at all costs especially during stressful times in the office. For example, if bad grammar infuriates them, double-check your work even if it means printing it out and going over it with a pen to edit it. If they get annoyed with late arrivals, start arriving to work 10-15 mins earlier than usual. It might be extra effort, but it will be worthwhile and keep you on the safe side. 



6. Don’t be afraid to speak up

The idea of discussing what’s been bothering you in the workplace can seem so excruciatingly daunting that anxiety leaves your stomach sick nonstop. Don’t let that stop you. Be strong and unleash your courage. If you feel comfortable enough, ask your boss if you could have a sit-down chat and open up about how you are feeling. Your boss may not have known, and an open conversation can occur in a healthy manner. If this is not possible, take it further and speak to your HR department. You might find that you aren’t the only one going through this and your voice might just be the 100th signature on that petition that gets the wheels moving.  

Top idea: Keep a diary of situations that have occurred so you can present this to HR. It will also help you keep track so you don’t start questioning or doubting yourself. 


7. Know when it’s time to leave

If nothing is working and you feel like a shadow of yourself, start job hunting. Staying in an environment that is completely toxic will not benefit you in the slightest. It can cause you to become physically ill as well as affect your mental health. No job is worth destroying yourself over. It may be difficult but make yourself a priority and send out those resumes. 

Related Article: 5 Signs It’s Time to Change Jobs

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