How to Deal with a Difficult Boss and Cope in a Toxic Work Environment

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difficult boss

Working for a difficult boss may be tough. Here are some tips on how to deal with toxic people in your workplace.

We spend much of our waking moments engaged in work-related activities. For most of us, we work in an office environment in which we have a superior.

If we’re lucky, our bosses are effective, fair, kind and good at their jobs; however, there are times we are exposed to so-called “bad bosses.” These bosses micromanage, demean their employees’ best efforts, choose favorites and engage in other negative behaviors.

The four main types of difficult bosses are the following:

  • Those who slack off. They take long lunches, skip out early and engage in extended personal conversations.
  • Those who are loose cannons with outbursts that come out of nowhere.
  • Those who think the rules do not apply to him or her and take all the credit for employees’ work.
  • Those who want to be your supervisor and your friend (think Michael Scott from “The Office”).

Coping with a difficult boss can contribute to anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders as we learn to manage the situation — or we may avoid it entirely. In our 40-plus years in the workforce prior to retirement, we will encounter a variety of people. If you are finding yourself in a rough patch in your career due to your manager, here are some ways you can deal with it without succumbing to your overarching feelings of anxiety:

Be objective.

It’s human nature to make decisions based on tension, hurt feelings and other emotionally charged thoughts and behaviors. And if you’re an anxious person, you will dwell on these feelings even more. Observe your boss for a few days from afar and in the midst of different situations.

Do your research and see what constitutes a difficult boss. If your boss doesn’t do something that raises red flags, try to brainstorm why he/she did what he/she did. Is he/she having to deal with pressures from his/her own superiors? Is he/she currently experiencing a major stressor in his/her personal life? While this doesn’t excuse unsavory behaviors, it could give you a reason.

Keep doing your best work.

At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself — and that’s it. Focus on doing your absolute best, even when you don’t feel motivated or appreciated. You want to keep your job and continue to cultivate a good reputation within your company. You never know who you will meet along the way. It pays dividends to keep doing your job rather than slacking off. It could lead to different and better opportunities in the future.

Also, you could begin to think your boss’ criticisms could be accurate and start to believe them. Love yourself and your strengths and try to never let go of what you do well. Chances are, your difficult boss is just criticizing for the sake of it and is not being productive or constructive.

Anticipate your boss’ actions, but don’t obsess over them.

If your boss is a master micromanager, you will begin to learn his/her tactics over time. This can help you anticipate what is coming. You will know that he/she will loom over your head when he/she is waiting for a monthly sales report that is due every second Friday of the month. You may know he/she stresses out over events and tries to interject opinions and to-do lists. Stay one step ahead, but only do what you can. When you begin reading too much between the lines, you will become more anxious. Know your boss’ motivations and management styles.

Talk to someone.

Learn what you can do to internally cope with your boss and a toxic environment. Learn what your perception is and what your office’s reality is by talking with a trained mental health professional. Talking with a mental health professional could immensely help you as you wade through your own emotions and realistic work scenarios. It will also help you find solutions to your mental health issues wherever you are.

Use your current boss’ behaviors in future experiences.

While it may be challenging to see a silver lining in incompetent chaos within your workplace, it does make you a stronger person and employee. Plus, you will be able to identify key triggers when you’re interviewing for future positions. You can possibly be able to tell if you’re interviewing with another difficult boss. Do research online and otherwise to avoid another manager like your current one.

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Valerie

I'm a law student who is fond of reading and writing about interesting topics on science (especially cognitive science and psychology), technology, and different extraterrestrial and paranormal stuff. I'm passionate about movies, travelling and photography.




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How to Deal with a Difficult Boss and Cope in a Toxic Work Environment