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How to Handle Your Big, Bad Difficult Boss July 5, 2008

Posted by dapinoyemployee in Da Pinoy Employee, Working with Bosses and Officemates.
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If only your job were more perfect… you truly love what you do, your office is in an excellent location, your colleagues are great, your pay’s decent enough but your boss… he/she is, to put it nicely, a certified jerk. It’s tough to keep a straight face when the guy overseeing you has the same characteristics as satan. So what do you do? Here are ways you can handle your boss from hell and come out unscathed and alive:

Get positive.
Is your boss always negative about you or your proposals? Overly critical bosses are a dime a dozen. Some of them think it’s their job to point out the weak points while others believe they’d look weak if they agree with their subordinates right away.

Instead of slinking away in a corner to nurse your hurt pride, why not approach the big man himself with some sort of positive version. If he’s critical about your work, let him know that you’re trying to do your best and then ask him what you should do in order to make things right.

At this point, you’ll get either of these reactions: a) Your boss will thank you for being objective and professional and probably (just probably) compliment you for your initiative or b) He’ll give you a long list of things you need to improve on.

If letter B) happens to you, prepare your ears. Some of what you might hear may just be unflattering or even hurtful. However, take it in stride. You’ll gain more respect for being proactive. Only a truly heinous boss will take it differently.

Listen before you yap.
This is a good thing to do when your boss is yelling and blubbering like a rabid animal. Anger is an expression of a strong emotion and it often manifests itself as a way to manage annoyance, stress or disappointment. Unfortunately, it shows up more intensely in others, such as your boss.
When your boss yells, don’t:
a) Yell back. This will worsen an already bad situation.
b) Walk out. He’ll take that as a direct insult.
c) Close your ears. You might actually learn something from his tirade. Don’t miss the point just because you don’t like the tone.

However, you do have to put your feet down during certain situations. When your boss yells and tries to verbally attack your character or becomes abusive, racist, sexually inappropriate or just plain taking his anger to a personal level, it’s time to protect yourself.

You can say, ‘I understand why you are angry about certain work-related issues but I do not feel it’s appropriate for you to attack me personally’. You can also report your boss to his manager, the HR department or someone at the higher level. Or if you can’t take it anymore, you can leave. No use wasting your time with an unreasonable person.

Don’t make yourself look better than your boss.
It doesn’t matter whether you have more masteral degrees under your belt or that you can actually complete the same task a week faster than your boss can – he or she is still your boss. He will resent it if you make it obvious he’s ineffectual or weaker. And no, don’t ever try to change your boss. He might take it the wrong way and it’s not your job.

What you should do is to offer your expertise or that of your other co-workers in a way that will not make your boss appear as if he can’t think for himself. Say something like, ‘Sir, I know you’re busy with this and that project (name the project). Is it okay if I asked ___________ to help guide me on this task (name the task)? He volunteered to help and is also an expert on ______________ (something that’s related to the task you want to complete)’.

Or if you’ll be relying on your own talents, say something like, ‘Sir/Ma’am, about that project you’ve wanted to complete for so long… I prepared something related to it. Could you check if this is okay?’

That way, you are able to present a solution for your problem and still don’t make it appear as if your boss is doing nothing (never mind that he truly isn’t).

Don’t correct your boss for an unethical practice.
Unless you’re on your way out of the door forever, don’t ever reprimand your boss for being dishonest, hogging the limelight, doing something stupid, cheating or taking credit for another person’s ideas. And don’t try to tell on him either. It will make you look like a snitch, stabbing someone in the back just like that.

Instead, try to distance yourself away from the bad stuff. Do your own honest job, keep your mouth shut and protect yourself. If it can’t be helped, prepare to pack your bags. A dishonest boss often dislikes honest subordinates, either because they make him feel guilty or because he’s afraid they’ll turn against him. He might also pull you under in case he goes down.

Remember that it’s your boss, not you.
Determine which one is truly the problem. If your boss is hard on you because you’re always late or your performance isn’t always up to par, then it’s your fault, not his. But if it’s truly your boss, then don’t be hard on yourself. Your boss is difficult because that’s who he is. So stop berating yourself. God knows your boss is doing a good enough job already.

Do you have a big, bad boss?  How did you survive working with him/her?



1. x - June 10, 2009

Your advice in the section titled “Don’t correct your boss for an unethical practice” is cowardly and unconstructive

2. Sally - August 17, 2009

I think it is correct to say never correct your boss. Whatever it is, the boss always wins. He can manipulate every situation to make your life miserble. If you want to keep your job, have to learn to keep emotions under control, not yap too much to co-workers or else be prepared to pack your bags. I wish there is justice in the work place but from my experience, bosses always win.

3. Nicey - January 17, 2010

I too believe this is bad advice. So we just sit back and condone bad behavior? Enable the alcoholic-is that the advice you have????

4. kryptoniza@hotmail.com - August 4, 2010

It is quite simple. If you work for a “bad boss” either accept the parameters available to you, or quit. Simple.

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