How to Deal With Difficult Boss

You cannot directly change your boss or anyone elses behavior.  You can only change your own.  You can only control your own mind and behavior.
You cannot directly change your boss or anyone elses behavior. You can only change your own. You can only control your own mind and behavior.

We cannot deny it that there are people having problems with their bosses. You can hear it from your friends or even read it online. Comments such as “My boss is a jerk or even she’s total a bitch.” There may be some who say that they are being treated unfairly by their supervisors or there’s favoritism in their group. They find their bosses so difficult to deal with that they wanted to quit their job. Is quitting your work the only solution?

Let’s face the fact. Your boss will always be your boss unless you transfer or get promoted to another department. Quitting your work is not the final solution. If you quit and transfer to another company, you’ll never know that your new boss might be worse than your last one. You may consider it as option, but I suggest that you put it off your mind first. But how do you think would you deal with such situations?

Always remember this - - - YOUR BOSS MAY NOT ALWAYS BE RIGHT, BUT HE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE TREATED RIGHT. If you feel that you can no longer respect him as a person; just try to respect his position. In this way, you will be able to stay calm and maintain an open-mind in your disposition. Here are some tips to help you deal with your “so-called difficult or bad boss” at work.

1. EVALUATE YOURSELF

Whether you have been with the company for a month, year or even more than 10 years, you need to evaluate yourself first before you start to hate your boss. Ask yourself these questions:

a. How well do I perform at work? Am I mediocre or an outstanding performer?

b. Do I perform my work with minimum supervision? Or do I need to be told on what to do with my assignment?

c. Was I able to meet the deadlines and sales quota (if any)? Or do I need to be reminded every time there is a project deadline?

d. How well do I follow instructions or orders from my superior?

e. How is my relationship with my co-workers?

Your answers to these questions will help you understand your present relationship with your boss. You need to look into yourself first before you can point out another person’s mistakes. Another way of evaluating yourself is to ask the opinion of your family, friends and co-workers. But you need to be open-minded to possible criticisms. Just think of it as a feedback. It will help you grow as a person as well as with your relationship.

2. GATHER FACTS ABOUT THE ISSUE

You need to be objective when you deal with your problem. For instance, you find your boss inconsiderate or unfair; try to list down the things that makes you think that way. Be specific with the situation. Do not include any hearsay because that is only rumor, which means it is not yet proven. To indulge yourself with gossips can elicit problems in the future. Get the positive and negative sides or its advantages or disadvantages to you; not to your group because you can only speak for yourself. You can ask others if they also feel the same way, but do not elicit an impression that you are complaining about your boss. You don’t want to create an impression that you are becoming an enemy of your superior. Be factual and open-minded. Also ask yourself, “What is my contribution or participation to that issue?”

Gathering facts will help you to become objective about the circumstances in your career. It will also help find possible solutions to your present relationship problems with your boss. It will help you determine factors to consider on ways to improve the situation.

3. DISCUSS THE ISSUE

Sometimes you may feel that your boss makes your workplace unbearable. But there’s nothing more relieving than to discuss the problem with him privately, but not in public. Engaging yourself with gossips will not help solve your dilemma. Going in public will just worsen the situation. Own your opinions or views and not from others. Be sure to tell him how you feel and what you want.

Be sure to check the appropriate time and place before you discuss any matters with your boss. This is another thing to consider when you engaged yourself in a discussion. You don’t want to talk to him in a middle of your meeting. It is not a good idea. Neither do you want to approach him when you can see that he is angry with your co-worker for whatever reasons. In short, your timing is important to have a healthy and successful discussion with him.

For instance your boss shouted at you in front of your co-workers because you submitted the wrong report. You felt that it was quite embarrassing. Do not answer back with another shout because it will heat up everything. Just try to answer him, “I apologize for my mistake, but I will get back to you as soon as I am done with the revisions. Please excuse me.” Then if you feel that you have already composed and calmed yourself, you can check if your boss is available and also in good condition to talk to you. It doesn’t have to be on that same day, but you can still do it the next day. You can say, “I understand that I made a mistake with my report, but I got embarrassed when you shouted at me in front of my co-workers. I felt I lost my respect as a person. I may not be perfect, but I consider myself to be a responsible employee. I would appreciate if you will not shout at me again. I would prefer to be treated with respect.” You can end your conversation by thanking him for his time and consideration about the incident.

If you notice in our example, there is a constant use of “I” in your message. Owning the situation will help you communicate properly with your boss.

4. BE ASSERTIVE

Being assertive doesn’t mean that you need to argue with your boss. You can express your opinion contrary to him without being offensive. Be tactful in pointing out something. Just remember that nobody is perfect and we all have our own imperfections. What you think is right may not be right for him at all; or it may not even coincide with the goal of your company. For instance, you can tell your boss “You may be right, but I suggest we can try to . . .” or “That’s a good point, but I think it would be better if we . . .” In this way, you may be able to tell him your views, but you still maintain a healthy discussion. Arguing with him will not become productive.

If you notice in our example, you use “we” rather than “I” when you give your suggestions (ex.: we can try to . . . or it would be better if we. . .) It only suggests that you are feasible to work as a team with your plans. It also implies that you were thinking of your group or company when you were formulating these ideas.

5. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE SIDE

There are times that people confuse management style with bossiness. You need to be able to differentiate organizational skills versus bossy boss. There are times that in order to get things done, some supervisors or managers may become less democratic at work. They may give orders that may be more than you like, but they are not really being bossy unless it is a continuous pattern.

It would be wise to focus on the positive side rather than the negative aspects. In this way, you will be able to understand and empathize with the situation. You felt stressed out with your boss that you find him excessively irritating, but just come to think of it that he might be more stressed out than you are to meet the deadlines and quotas set by the company. If you focus on the positive areas, you may be able to have a chance to work hand-in-hand with him.

Putting your attention on the negative side can make you depressed and annoyed. It will not create a healthy relationship with your boss and colleagues.

6. USE HUMOR

Being funny is quite difficult if you are not that type of a person. I agree with that especially if you have a serious type of personality. But as the old saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” It would still be better if you exert effort to be humorous or witty; may it be about your work or not. However, making fun with the other person is another thing. That is not being clever because it can demean your boss or co-worker.

I had a former boss who was fond of challenging the employees. I had an incident where he asked me, “Is that your best?” I felt that he sounds so sarcastic when asking. I looked at him and just simply replied, “Oh yes I did my best, but if my best wasn’t good enough for you then you have to teach me.” I was new at that time and I don’t have any idea about his management style. But I guess, my response did work because he never bothered to check on me again. LOL! He may be annoying, but I later found out that he always asked the same question. He wanted to post it as a challenge to all employees to do their best. If you use a little humor rather than rumor, it will help you develop a harmonious relationship with your boss.

7. ASK FOR HELP

If you think that you have tried doing everything from steps 1 to 6 to make your relationship works with your boss, then try to consider discussing the issue with an authorized superior. You can discuss your concern with your Division Head or somebody of equal status to your boss such as the Human Resource Head. Remember, do not criticize your boss when asking for help. Explain your position or view about the issue and how it affects you. Tell them also the positive aspects of your boss. Do emphasize that you are asking help in order to improve the situation. Ask them for direct advice, if needed. Be objective.

Furthermore, you should bear in mind that you cannot directly change your boss or anyone else’s behavior. You can only change your own. You can only control your own mind and behavior. However, you can influence your boss or others to change. But first, you also need to be open to change in the way you think and do things. By doing so, you may be able to make a difference in creating a better situation. Do not let your emotions overshadow you. Be proactive rather than passive.

If you are already a supervisor, manager, executive, or business owner, I suggest that you should learn to read between the lines within your conversation in order to understand your subordinates and employees.  Try to grasp the message through their body language, too.     In this way, you will be able to create a healthier and harmonious working environment.

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Comments 24 comments

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Great advice Tina. If he's a blockhead though... Great write. God bless!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A good and well presented hub on a subject that worries and upsets so many.

I am sure that many employees will find this one handy!!

Take care

Eiddwen.


ImChemist profile image

ImChemist 5 years ago

I personally have kind boss.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Thank you Micky! I hope our readers would benefits from this hub. God bless you, too! Enjoy your weekend!


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Eiddwen,

I really appreciate your comments. Although this is quite an old topic to be discussed, but it’s sad that it still worries and upset many people. I’m glad that you find this handy for employees. I hope that this will help them work things out. Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great weekend!


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi ImChemist,

If all employees would find their bosses kind just like you, it will definitely lessen the burden of HR. LOL! Anyway, I’m glad that you have a kind boss. I hope this article would still help others who have problems with their supervisors and managers. I hope this would help them create a better relationship with their bosses. Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great weekend!


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 5 years ago from hub

Working with a difficult boss, is very hard. Knowing what I know now...I would be looking for another job, if the situation looked as if it weren't going to change on..his part? Hostility, should not have to be tolerated by anybody. Great things to consider, if you have a bad working environment.


Esmeowl12 profile image

Esmeowl12 5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

I really enjoyed this hub. Thanks for the great information.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi heart4theworld,

I really appreciate your comment. I agree that it is hard to work with a boss if you consider him difficult to deal. I would like to share this Bible verse in Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I consider hostility as an evil doing; perhaps we can apply this verse as “Do not be overcome by hostility, but overcome hostility with good.” The tips I shared in this hub are just ways in overcoming what some may consider as a bad working environment. This means that the person concerned doesn’t necessarily tolerate any unpleasant situation, but rather taking actions to find ways to improve the relationship. However, the final decision still lies on the person concerned. I hope this would help those who have problems with their bosses.

Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great week!


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Esmeowl12,

I’m glad you enjoyed reading this article and found it informative, too. I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great week!


mwatkins profile image

mwatkins 5 years ago from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC

great advice for someone frustrated with the bad boss. You could always open your own business too! One other thing that's really important to know when you're dealing with a bad boss, is to make any notes you may need in order to protect or defend yourself in the event of a disagreement. Awesome!


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Mischelle (mwatkins),

Although it is quite risky, but starting up your business can be an alternative for a person who is frustrated with his boss. This is a good suggestion. The first and second steps above (Evaluate Yourself and Gather Facts about the Issue) are very important before any employee wants to disagree with his boss. Proper documentation is important, too. It will help anybody analyze and make sound judgment about the situation. I hope that whoever feels hooked on this problem will be open-minded to take these tips into consideration to help him.

My apology for the late reply, but I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for checking out this hub. Enjoy your week!


jamiecoins profile image

jamiecoins 5 years ago from ireland

great hub and advice i think everyone had always had a bad boss voted up


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi jamiecoins,

Most employees thought they have a bad boss in some aspects. I think it's part of their adjustment period especially during their first few months together. However, if the person is open to learn how to deal with it effectively then they could create a healthier relationships with their bosses. I guess there's no harm in trying.

Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great weekend!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice article that hit the nail straight at the head,will give this tips a trial,thanks for sharing.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi crystolite,

I really appreciate your comment. I hope it will help you or your friends deal with your bosses. Thank you for checking out this hub. My apology for the late reply.

Enjoy your week!


PeytonFarquhar profile image

PeytonFarquhar 5 years ago from So Cal

Outstanding tips. Of course, not everyone will agree, but anyone who has to work for a living must walk a very fine, muddy line between kissing ass/keeping his or her job. Since I work with very angry people who argue for a living, I don't take anything personal and treat everyone the way I would like to be treated. This seems to work even with the most egregious sources of pain that no one else can stand so I know I must be doing something right.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Peyton,

I really appreciate your comment. These are tips to help those who have problems in dealing with their difficult bosses, whether they are going to agree or not. Readers still make the final decision to follow these or prefer to do things on their own. However, I don’t agree that people need to “kiss the ass” of his boss just to keep his job. Each one of us has an option on how to deal with the situation. I felt bad that you are working with “very angry people who argue for a living.” But I agree that you should not take it personally, but rather treat everyone the way you want them to treat you. This is a good advice to those who have the same concern with you. Thank you for sharing it with us. Have a great week!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 5 years ago from US

This is extensive, ways to understand and deal with your boss. Treating your boss right is good,


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Maita,

I agree with you that treating your boss right is still good. It is nice to have a healthy relationship with our superiors. I really appreciate your comment. Have a great weekend!


gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

To Tina V: Sometimes you make amends and endure the situation. However, remember the situation is not forever. In my case, I got promoted and obtained a better job than my boss.


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi gmwilliams,

If the employee is already in a conflicting situation with his boss, then I agree that one should make amends. Gathering the facts and discussing the issue with the boss are steps in making amends. This hub presents things to do in order to help employees deal with what they consider as difficult bosses and prevent conflict. You are right; any situation will not always be forever. However, I would prefer to use the term “compromise” rather than “to endure” the situation because compromising entails cooperation and open-mindedness; whereas, enduring something is like becoming submissive without sincerity and teamwork. The person might also carry a lot of baggages in his heart. But I’m glad that making amends and enduring did work for you. Congratulations on your promotion!

Thank you for checking out this hub. Have a great day!


mary.jane profile image

mary.jane 5 years ago

thankyou Tina V !

excellent hub

m.j (:


TINA V profile image

TINA V 5 years ago Author

Hi Mary Jane,

Thank you for checking out this hub. I really appreciate your rating. Have a great week!

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