Horrible Bosses: How to Cope


Learn the boundaries

Learn the boundaries

There are many different types of bosses; the neglecter, the micromanager, the bully who doesn’t care much about what you have to say. Let’s face it, some people don’t handle positions of power well and that leaves you in quite the predicament.

It’s an impossible feat to change someone else and what if, as much as you might want to, you can’t leave your job. Maybe you need the financial stability, it’s a short commute or you have your sights set on the corner office and no one will stand in your way. A boss with a bad attitude can be hard to handle but you can conquer the challenge by trying a few new things.

  1. Learn the boundaries

With a boss that’s hard to work for, it’s important that you quickly learn what to do and, more importantly, what not to do.  Find out early what the expectations are from your peers or by direct discussion with your boss regarding preferred communication method, timing and amount of detail desired. The sooner you learn and adapt to these boundaries, the less friction you’ll have to fight off.

  1. Discuss performance measurements

Open and effective communication can help ease some tension if you both set clear parameters for performance expectations. Ask for specific objectives and targets, in addition to the availability of resources.  Even if he or she comes to you later with contradictory and negative feedback, at least you know you’ve done what was expected of you.

  1. Offer the benefit of the doubt

Your boss may seem like a no-good menace to your office life but challenge yourself to be the bigger person. When he or she is right about something, it’s okay to admit it. If they have one good point amid countless bad ones, appreciate the good one. If you focus your energy on the positive and perhaps even show some respect for your boss’ successes, you may actually start to see improved behavior on their end. At least, toward you.

  1. Carry your evidence

It may seem may seem like a bold move to offer statistics that contradict your boss’ claims, but there may come a time when it’s necessary for survival. If your boss is hounding you relentlessly, threatening your job or escalating their complaints to upper management, use your evidence. Start a “hero” file filled with specific accomplishments and emails from satisfied clients.  Are you fulfilling your share of the orders? Is your customer satisfaction impeccable? Is your task completion better than you’re being accused of? You’ve already established your clear work performance measurements so if they’re not giving you due credit, direct their attention to Exhibit A.

  1. Be strong

Your boss’ bad behavior toward you is not personal. It’s important to remind yourself that their shortcomings are about them, not you. Don’t stumble over yourself to win them over because you likely never will, which will cause you more anxiety, self-doubt and decreased work performance. Make your priority your job; happy customers, completed tasks, impressive sales, satisfied coworkers.

Working for someone that’s rough around the edges can be draining. But there are steps you can take to take back some control. A horrible boss doesn’t necessarily have to send you running for the unemployment line; execute patience, strength and open communication and you might find yourself facing success.


Do you need help assessing your career anxiety or improving your relationship with your boss? My executive coaching services can help you hone your communication skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.

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