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How to Deal with a mean Boss: 10 Easy Tips to Stay In Charge


An employee rarely searches for how to deal with a mean boss until he encounters one at his workplace.  

If you ask every employee what kind of boss or manager they’d like to work with, chances are that you’d get a response similar to this: 

“I want to work with a boss who’d value my input and surely help me succeed in my career.”

While that sounds lovely and exactly what you would want for yourself, the reality may be the opposite. That’s because some bosses are horrible, and you may work under a few in your career journey

And truth be told, working with horrible bosses can be emotionally and mentally draining. As unpalatable as it may sound (even in the ears of interviewers), bad bosses account for why many say goodbye to their jobs. 

So you should read this article carefully because you’ll learn how to deal with a mean boss. Below are ways how to handle a horrible boss: 

10 Easy Tips to Deal with a Mean Boss

#1. Ensure you’re on a clear path

Making sure you’re all cleaned up doesn’t appear like a way to handle a bad tempered or terrible boss. But it’s as essential as the tips below you’ll read and learn. That’s because you want to be sure that you’re not the cause of why your boss is behaving the way he is. 

In other words, you want to self-evaluate your performance and attitude to work. Check yourself against all fundamental indexes you know. But once you’ve done that and beyond any doubt, you know that your boss is the problem. 

And yes! He is just a micromanager who, due to personality issues, doesn’t appreciate the work of the people under him. 

That takes us to the next point.  

#2. Quit your job or Stay with your boss

Now you know you’re in for a tough time with a horrible boss. At this point, you must make a tough decision between the two alternatives before you. You either leave your job or to choose to stay back to handle your mean boss. 

#3. Know what drives your boss

In dealing with a terrible boss, you must identify his genuine motivation. And to be able to do that, you must learn what is driving your boss and what keeps him at night. It could be more sales, optimal organizational efficiency, or anything one can imagine. 

Now, the goal of this exercise is for you to be able to serve your boss better and with invincible discretion. That way, you’d be able to help him achieve his business goal, which may result in his promotion or transfer to another department or branch. Either way, you become more valuable to your boss.

#4. Own your job like a leader 

Leaders initiate things and, of course, take responsibility without waiting to be told. Similarly, you need to consistently act as a leader to be at the top of your game and close any opportunity for your boss to show you some bad attitude.

In other words, to own your job like a leader, you must be proactive. You identify needs and address them upfront before they impact your boss’s efficiency without waiting for his formal approval to do that. 

Who wouldn’t be happy to realize a fellow had killed a beast that had almost eliminated him? Only an ingrate would do that. Thus, acting as a leader could mean standing up for your boss; so things don’t go wrong.  

How do you think your boss would feel when he arrived at a meeting 15 minutes late but realized you had commenced it in the hope of his appearance? (Without any prior notice of his lateness)

Happy right? 

By taking initiatives like that, you keep killing every tendency for your boss to unleash unreasonable yet “justifiable” cruelty on you. 

Note, “justifiable cruelty” here means any treatment from your boss that his position allows him yet doesn’t provide you any legal framework to seek for a case. 

#5. Set boundaries for your boss 

 When there are no boundaries, the possibilities of abuse abound. That’s why you must learn how to set boundaries in your quest to learn how to deal with a mean boss. It will help you check and keep your relationship with your boss as professional as possible while it kills any possible abusive behaviors. 

For instance, if your boss gives you a task (either via an email or a phone call) to execute during hours that are not working, you can (and should) let him know that hour is not working hours.  

While you should be unapologetic about that, you don’t want to rain insults on your boss.

Again, you should apply discretion. So you don’t compound the misery you’re already trying to keep up with at your workplace. 

#6. Stay off the triggers of your horrible boss

If you’ve executed the #2 tip on this list of how to deal with a mean boss, you should know the things that stir up anger or irritation in your boss. You don’t just want to know them, but you want to stay away from these triggers. 

It will not only save you from straining your relationship with your boss. But it will enable you to focus your time and energy more productively on other things. 

For example, if your boss doesn’t like disturbance during a particular time or hour, you’ll be better off staying at your office doing other things. Except for extreme cases that may require you to break that instruction.

#7. Don’t act with assumptions when dealing with your mean boss

 In my personal life, making assumptions is something I sternly dread. Why? 

The reason is simple: It’s costly and misleading. And that’s why I think you should feel the same way, especially when dealing with a difficult boss. 

When you don’t know or didn’t grasp what your boss said or is asking you to do, ask questions. Or better still, you restate your boss’s statement in a way that tells him that you need him to shed more light on the matter. 

#8. Never disparage Your mean boss

It’s primitive to get back at someone you feel is giving you attitude or perhaps not treating you well. And so, some employees working under bosses that they consider horrible resort to gossiping about their bosses. 

But you don’t want (and shouldn’t) do that. In short, on no occasion should you slander your boss. That will save you from some problems, which may include litigation, depending on the situation. 

It doesn’t matter if a colleague has shared with you how your boss (has abused) is abusing him, or as the case may be. While you can advise your colleague to involve the HR, you should be careful. However, that takes the next tip.

#9. Be a good record keeper

 You may want to ask, how does being a good record keeper have anything to do with dealing with a mean boss? 

Don’t be surprised; here, the reference is not about figures necessarily, but events in general. So about a case whereby you’re the subject of the abuse(s)?

If your boss is abusing you in a way that calls for legal attention, you want to be sure you have sufficient and reliable evidence to work in your favor. You know in the eyes of the laws, evidence matters a lot. 

#10. Do your homework in future

This is more or less like a bonus tip. Yet it’s worth adhering to, especially if you decide to quit your job. Remember, the saying once bitten, twice shy. 

On that note, you want to do meticulous research in the future about the leadership of a business or a firm you hope to join.

You’d agree anyone who has tasted what it means to work under a difficult or bad (a less euphemistic word) boss wouldn’t want such an experience to reoccur. Right?

A final thought on how to deal with a mean boss

While trying to handle a horrible boss, you should know that keeping mute and continuing to burn your skin shouldn’t be treated as a way out. So, speak up as often as possible, especially when material evidence is in your favor when a case forms out of the situation. 

In any case, you must know that this article doesn’t in any way try to provide any legal advice concerning dealing with a bad boss. So, if you want such a service, you can contact an (or your) attorney. It’s written only for informative and educational purposes. 

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