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How to Deal with a Bad Boss

How to Deal with a Bad Boss 

75% of American workers say their boss is the most stressful part of their day. At some point or another, you may have a leader who’s hard to work with. Instead of letting that drive you away from a job you love, here’s how to deal with them:  


Bad bosses probably don’t know they’re bad bosses. Feedback about an issue you’re having with them will help them be a better manager. But you have to communicate. Start the conversation by saying you want to talk about something that may be a bit uncomfortable. (If you don’t address it, no one else is going to address it for you.) During the conversation, don’t name off a list of things your boss has done wrong. Instead, pick a couple of instances and an example of something they did and explain how it made you feel. Asking to give feedback is a great way to go about the conversation if you think your boss may get defensive. Most people are going to say yes to hearing feedback.  

Take a step back: 

If you’re having an emotional reaction to a situation, step away. Whether you need 10 minutes or 24 hours, give yourself time to cool down. You don’t want to wait three weeks to say something, but you also don’t want to go into a meeting hysterically crying or angry because you’re reacting immediately. It’s a good idea to take a little break before addressing the issue so you can go in with a clear head. 

Be prepared for your boss to come back to you and say there are things you have been doing that have been bothering them, too. If you’re feeling there’s a problem, there’s a chance your boss may feel that there’s a problem. So, expect feedback from your boss, as well.  

Reach out to seniors 

If you feel like you’ve tried to have this conversation with your boss or don’t know how to approach it, it can be a good idea to go to the person’s boss and ask them for insight on the situation. Ask them if they can role play the conversation with you. This enables you to get a senior’s insight and lets your boss’ boss know that you’re going to have this conversation with them. You can be vague about it. If you feel that going to your boss’ boss may cause friction, leave the person’s name out of it.  

If you’re going to the person’s boss, be prepared for them to want to jump in. You may not know, but there could be ongoing issues with your boss and this feedback may be a part of those existing issues.  

A reason you may not want to go to your boss’ boss is that it can look like you’re going behind their back. Be up front with your manager that you had asked for advice from their boss when you talk to them. You’re not tattling, you’re asking for advice on a topic that affects your career. Take ownership of that!  

Speak up 

Go to your boss’ boss regarding any inappropriate behavior, personal or professional boundaries that are crossed, or if you feel like your boss is directly impacting the growth of your career. If anything your boss does makes you uncomfortable in the workplace, you need to speak up.  

If you feel like your boss isn’t helping your career grow, say something. Explain what you think you could accomplish, then ask for their feedback and help getting there. Ask for what you want and remember, no one else is going to care about your career more than you. 

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