Don’t Give Up: How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

By April 28, 2022 April 10th, 2023 Common Business Problems

Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

I scream you scream; we all scream over bad bosses, managers, and superiors. Right? Wrong.

There are many reasons why workers hate their bosses. Dozens of articles and nonfiction self-help books discuss dealing with a difficult boss, but each case differs. One article won’t change your world unless you put in the work. However, if you learn to manage a poor manager you are one step closer to a better situation.

A photo of an angry ranting difficult boss shaking his fists

Growing pains, transitional change, and corporate restructuring can change your manager. It may make them more stressed or change their role entirely. 

Read on to learn how to deal with a difficult boss and salvage your sanity — and career — in the process.

What to Do When Your Boss Disrespects You

People who lack boundaries don’t often see boundaries in others—and when the lines are crossed, people will feel aligned or disrespected.

Some aspects that will help you learn how to deal with a difficult boss include the following:

  • Seeing the issue from their perspective.
  • Communicating as they communicate (be sure to err on the side of respect).
  • Learning what motivates them.

If you understand where they are coming from and show a modicum of empathy, I am sure you will learn a little about yourself. So often, when someone is rude or disrespectful, it has nothing to do with you—it’s their lack of boundaries or ability to manage their emotion under challenging situations.

Although they may be unaware of their irritating actions, this is an opportunity to grow into the leader you wish you had. As you develop your leadership skills, you’ll also learn how to deal with a difficult boss and difficult peers for years to come.

Note as you learn how to deal with a difficult boss, you may have to have uncomfortable conversations. As they arise, it is essential to bring up any tricky topics so all parties know where each other stands. You cannot expect them to understand your feelings if you do not share your feedback with your boss.

How to Survive a Bad Boss

People are not inherently bad—and I would like to think anyone is redeemable with the willingness to change.

Forbes suggests that as we adopt a more remote-work lifestyle managing others, and being managed, hasn’t become easier. But as with any relationship, there is a specific science in what makes a manager and subordinate relationship healthy or unhealthy. 

Look at the tips below for tips on how to deal with a difficult boss:

  1. Establish trust
  2. Create fairness
  3. Practice self-control
  4. Build empathy 
  5. Foster mutual respect

Without trust, there is no mutual respect, empathy, or fairness. Looking at your boss as “difficult” further jades your judgment and action plan. However, if you develop reciprocity, speak with them with self-control, and create fairness in dialogue, trust and respect will be built alongside you both. 

Before you and your team need to survive or fight a lousy boss, consider small business coaching that focuses on leading with integrity. Sign up for my free weekly blog articles on exciting business challenges here.

Coach Dave


Dave Schoenbeck
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