How to Deal with a Difficult Boss in a Professional Manner

You undoubtedly have a lot on your plate at work. Between endless meetings, project deadlines, and unread emails, it can be hard to keep your head above water. On top of all that stress, the last thing you need is a problematic boss. But occasionally, that’s exactly what you get. If you’re struggling to figure out how to deal with a difficult boss, below are a few steps to help you work toward a solution.

Being the unlucky employee of a troublesome boss can be discouraging, but getting to the root of the problem may provide some reprieve. Understanding a person’s motivation can greatly aid in your efforts to find peace. Ask yourself the following questions:

Which of my boss’ personality traits or behaviors are causing trouble?
  • Is your boss rude? Unprofessional? Micromanaging? Retaliatory? What exactly is the issue? Is your boss aware of how they are being perceived?

Depending on the severity of the problem, you may be able to confront your manager directly or try simple conflict resolution methods. For more serious infractions, it may be best to involve your human resources department, or make plans to find a new position

Are these qualities new or chronic?
  • New: These behaviors popped up out of the blue.
  • Chronic: My boss has always displayed these traits.

If you notice that your manager is suddenly acting differently, you may choose to have a gentle discussion with them about why. If these qualities are chronic, it’s possible that a conversation will only cause more damage.

Are their actions triggered by something, or seemingly unprovoked? 
  • Triggered: Is your boss reactive? Do their negative habits appear in response to a particular action or person?
  • Unprovoked: Is your boss the sole instigator without justifiable cause? 

If your boss only responds negatively to certain triggers, try to avoid those hot buttons. At the very least, be aware of potential trouble. On the other hand, if your manager is hostile without reason, you’ll have to make the best decision for your mental health. If you are able to tolerate their behavior, you can stay and try these tips. If you exhaust all your options and decide enough is enough, that’s okay too. Your inner peace is important and you have the right to protect it. 

No one deserves to be subjected to a toxic work environment. By answering these questions, you’ll have a clearer picture of helpful next steps. Whether you choose to tough it out or make an exit, be confident in your ability to make the right decision for your peace of mind and career.

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