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How To Deal With A Difficult Boss – Working with a difficult boss is a situation people face at some point in their careers. While dealing with such bosses can present difficulties, quitting your job isn’t always the solution. Whether your boss is a micromanager, shows favoritism, has anger issues, or is unsupportive and overly critical, you still have to manage the situation while remaining professional. Instead of giving up, you should develop your managing-up skills, stay in the workplace and face the situation with all your might.

The relationship with your boss plays a notable role in your career success. Having a difficult boss can impact your mental health, make you dread work, and take a serious toll on your overall life. Therefore, you must know how to deal with a difficult boss to make your work life easier and save yourself from stress.

Dealing with a difficult boss can be hard, but there are steps you can take to make work more manageable. In this article, I’ll discuss 13 effective ways to deal with a difficult boss who’s challenging to work with. Scroll a bit to see how easy it is to deal with a difficult boss by following some helpful tips.

Table of Contents

13 Ways To How To Deal With A Difficult Boss

Here are strategies shared by experts on how to deal with a difficult boss while staying professional and without losing your cool.

1. Understand the problem/ Evaluate the situation 

The first and foremost step in dealing with a difficult boss is identifying the problem’s root. Understand the reason for their behavior. Is it a power struggle, you’re hard on them, or lack of respect? Is your boss frustrated with your delivery dates, work style, or something else?

Once you understand the problem, you can address it. Bosses are dealing with many demands from above or difficult issues that you may not be aware of. Therefore, understanding the circumstances in the office will help you better cope with difficult situations. Also, you’ll realize that perhaps you’re not the problem.

2. Adapt to your boss’ working style

Figure out the working and management style of your boss. What does he value in the parameter of work? Is he focused on completing tasks on time speedily, or does he want quality work, no matter if it takes more time? What things are his priorities? What things does he find crucial? Is your boss a micromanager who wants to get nitty-bitty details?

As a good employee, you should find the answer to these questions. Then, evaluate your working style and try to adapt it to become more aligned with his style. It can be something like updating them frequently or completing the tasks as they want. It’ll show them you’re taking your job seriously and respecting his values. 

3. Set clear boundaries

If your boss continues to be disrespectful or toxic, try not to let their behavior affect your professional attitude. Learn to say no politely and respectfully. If their requests of pushing workload or working overtime are unmanageable for you to handle solely, let them know.

Know your rights, be clear about your expectations, tell them what you can or can’t tolerate, and stick to your boundaries. It’ll remind your boss of the significance of employee well-being. The right boss gives you enough freedom and lets you maintain a healthy work-life balance.

4. Communicate effectively

Another great tip for dealing with a difficult boss is to communicate effectively with them. Effective communication is key to avoiding all misunderstandings. Show your leadership skills and speak to your boss so he can understand your concerns.

Let them know what offending behavior is and the negative effects of that behavior. If it affects morale, performance, or trust, let them know. Your boss likely has not considered this before. By speaking politely and calmly, you can better communicate your thoughts and show that you want to maintain a healthy working relationship. 

5. Understand your boss’ communication style

The way we communicate impacts our workplace relationships. It’s crucial to determine your boss’s preferred communication style to better communicate with them. If they prefer emails to long in-person discussions, speak to them this way before confronting them face-to-face about work-related matters.

However, being clear and specific without being disrespectful is a wonderful baseline for having productive communication with your boss. Understanding your boss better will improve your relationship with them.

6. Refrain from taking it personally and becoming emotional

It is hard to deal with a difficult boss. The best thing to do in such a situation is don’t take things personally and refrain from becoming emotional. It is work, and you have to maintain your professional manner, the negative emotions can make a situation harder. Be aware of how the workplace environment and behavior, feedback, or criticism from your boss affect you emotionally. Control your emotions during discussing with your boss or dealing with such circumstances to reduce stress and save energy.

7. Focus on good things

Evaluate the pros and cons of your job. You have a job, you’re financially stable, and you have a good relationship with your colleagues- these are positive things you should focus on. Even though your boss is difficult, you do not have to exhaust yourself by thinking about him. Focus on all the good things associated with your current role to offset the negatives. 

Besides, each person has something good and bad in them. It can be true for your boss. Try to notice something positive in their attitude, personality, working style, or behavior toward others. Identifying even a little positive thing about your boss can leave you friendly and low down the tension among you.

8. Be careful with your words and actions

Expressing honesty and giving open views in the workplace is essential, but it’s also significant to thoughtfully choose your words while interacting with a boss. Don’t become too angry or offended easily. Being disrespectful and saying something wrong at the wrong time can raise tension between you and your boss. 

Therefore, be careful with your words and actions and speak in a professional manner. It is a professional trait that can reward you in the long run. Additionally, listening more and talking less is a great thing one can do to establish a healthy relationship with an employer.

9. Stay a step ahead and anticipate expectations 

Understand your boss’ habits, expectations, and demands. In doing so, you can make their life easier by understanding their professional goals, helping them, and contributing to achieving them. Moreover, stay one step ahead and get things done in advance, especially when dealing with a micromanager. It’ll show them you have your responsibilities on track, you respect their requests, and you’re a reliable person. 

So, become a self-starter, prove yourself to your boss, and show your key skills. Anticipating expectations is one of the great ways on how to deal with a difficult boss. 

10. Be a problem-solver and take responsibility where necessary

Sometimes a relationship with a boss can be difficult due to negative behavior from both sides. You cannot change someone else’s nature, but you’re able to control your own behavior. So, it’s crucial to assess the situation and take responsibility where necessary to improve the relationship. You need to improve and adjust if you are not up to your boss’s expectations.

Moreover, find out what your boss expects from you if there is any misunderstanding or miscommunication. Thus, be a problem-solver when things go wrong. Not taking any responsibility or improving the situation may worsen the situation and your relationship with your boss.

11. Practice professionalism

Even if you feel frustrated and overwhelmed with your boss, stay calm and professional and honor your superior. Keep yourself cool, and don’t fight back. Everything that happens in the office should be taken professionally. You have to respect your boss and not let your feelings affect your work and productivity.

However, if the matter gets too serious, you should ask for help from people in a position to do something about it. Also, don’t take extra leaves, longer lunches, or work slower, as it’ll put you behind in your workplace.

12. Avoid gossiping with your coworkers

Speaking with someone about working with a difficult boss helps vent out your frustration. But it isn’t recommended to have this kind of conversation with your coworkers– save this venting for family and friends. You may have good colleagues or peers at work, but never gossip about your boss with them. Doing so leads to negativity in the workplace and can make things worse for you.

So, you should never bad-mouth your boss to others at work. It’ll keep your integrity intact and keep you safe. Instead, you can talk to a family member or trusted friend who can offer meaningful support.

13. The Last Resort- Quit

If you’ve tried all the ways to deal with a difficult boss but still have no progress; instead, the situation has gone from bad to worse, it’s time to consider a better job opportunity for yourself. Remember, no job is worth your mental health. There’s no need to do the job at such a place where you’re not valued. It’s imperative to do what is best for you. Because the unbearable and toxic work life can bring stress to your daily life, leading to health issues.

Therefore, move out, find better options confidently, and always research your boss and company’s culture before accepting a new job. Sometimes, it is best to shift your career to pursue better opportunities. Taking this action could be a great way to get what you want. If you want help or career guidance, talking to a professional is the best step.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with a difficult boss can be tricky, but it isn’t impossible. These practical ways will help you deal with your difficult boss, and you’ll be able to enjoy work more and have a much less stressful work life. Each boss has strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the cause of their behavior, communicating with them, and seeing things from their point of view might help you deal with a challenging situation. However, if all the above ways on how to deal with a difficult boss fail, it is advisable to seek another job opportunity for your mental well-being and self-esteem.

If you’re working with difficult coworkers and having a hard time, check out this great article to learn how to deal with difficult coworkers.Do you need help choosing the right career path or guidance for your professional life? Feel free to reach out via a free-of-cost discovery call

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Picture of Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero - Elite Transformation and Executive Coach
Vivien Roggero, an Elite Transformation and Executive Coach, specializes in high-performance coaching and personal transformation, guiding professionals to peak success and fulfillment. With decades of experience, Vivien empowers high achievers, executives, and entrepreneurs through mindset shifts and strategic development.
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