How to Deal with a Bad Boss – 5 Practical Tips

how to deal with a bad bossBosses are not created equal, therefore it is essential to your success to know how to deal with a bad boss, when you encounter one.   One of the main reasons why you would want to leave a lucrative job reluctantly is having a bad boss.   Though the movie ‘Horrible Bosses’ may be fictional, the cases illustrated or conveyed through the movie can happen. In fact, you’ll probably find many people in your network suffering from one type or another appalling behavior of their bad managers or bosses.

Unless you are a Pro at dealing with bad bosses, you’ll find it quite stressful and nerve-racking to figure out how to deal with bad bosses.  You need to know how to stand your ground and motivate them to stop their current behavior.  Otherwise, every day at your job can be demotivating, depressing, or even degrading depending on what kind of bad boss you have.  

Just because a boss is terrible at managing you, doesn’t mean you don’t have any recourse to fight against it.  Here are five practical tips on how to deal with a bad boss.

Tip #1: Approach in a Professional Manner

Remember that if you repay evil with evil, you’ll never get the response or result you desire.  Even if your boss acts or behaves unprofessionally, you shouldn’t approach him in the same manner. Instead, you must keep your professionalism and approach him in a respectable manner.

For Example: Do not just barge in your boss’s office without his permission. First get agreement from him or her to discuss your questions and concerns. You can do this via sending an email yourself. Keep the email brief and to the point. Also, do not prompt him again and again but wait patiently for his reply.

Tip #2: Approach Only When the Time Is Right

Many people have the courage to stand up to their boss but they don’t know when or how. As I said earlier, you need to take your problems to the boss in a professional manner.   It will not help you if you confront your boss in a team meeting even if he or she was condescending to you in that meeting or impulsively while he or she was busy with something else.  Also it’s important to make sure it’s not an one-off event.  No one is perfect and anyone can be bad once (as long as it’s not a legal issue).  Let it go.  But if similar things happen repeatedly, than gather the fact and arrange a meeting to discuss your perspective.  

Tip #3: Take Action Early

If you know it for sure that you are being victimized by the boss and yet you hesitate to take a stand for yourself, you’ll never be able stop your boss from making your life a living hell. In fact, you’ll be left with no other option but to leave the job no matter how lucrative it is. Therefore, you must stop this from endangering your job and you must do it early.

For Example: if you notice that your boss becomes infuriated whenever you two interact or when you go to his office to report on any matter, then while this is happening, stay calm and ask your boss something, “I’ve noticed that you seem a little upset with me. Can you let me know what I did to upset you? Is my performance not up to your expectations? If you could kindly let me know my mistake, it would help me amend it so I could meet your expectations”.

By approaching the boss with questions instead of a confrontation, you are calling him or her out but keeping the focus on what you can do to improve.  This at least opens up a dialogue and give the boss a chance to explain and show that you noticed. 

Tip #4: Take The Matter To Higher Authorities and Stay Factual

If the aforementioned tactic fails to result in a positive change, then it is time to let the higher management.   While you may be tempted to go formally to your boss’ boss or HR right away with a whole story, resist.  Go first informally to a senior person who you have a personal relationship with.  Tell her the whole story privately and ask for advice.   Because this person is more aware of the office politics but is also on your side, she can provide some very sound advice as to whether reporting this person and this behavior formally to HR or your boss’s boss will have any effect.  

As always, stay professional.  When you tell the story, avoid finger pointing, instead stick to the fact (like email exchanges or verbal exchanges) and say here is how you interpreted these interactions and also how they are distracting you from productive work.  

Tip # 5: Consider a Job Change and play defense

If all your efforts fall on deaf ear, then it is time to actively look for work.  I wouldn’t recommend quitting.    The job market is tough.  Learn to care less about how your boss treats you.  Focus all your free time on networking and finding a new job.  Continue to do your work as best as you can and switch when you find the new gig.  This way, you are taking control of a situation you cannot fix but can leave on your own terms.  

At the end of the day, it’s never easy to know how to deal with a bad boss.  Do the best you can.  As long as you taking action, then you can take control and not just be a victim in a bad situation. 

Your comments:  Have these tips helped you figure out how to deal with a bad boss? Add your comments below.

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Guest Author: James Lawton is an academic consultant at Writingspot a leading essay writing service in the UK. He is also an active contributor on various academic blogs and forums.

This is a guest post with significant edits in italics by Lei Han.  If you would like to submit a guest post to, please follow these guest post guidelines

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