Home Work & World Work Achievement: 9 Ways to Handle a Sucky Boss

Work Achievement: 9 Ways to Handle a Sucky Boss

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We all laughed at the movie Horrible Bosses, but the truth of the matter is putting in a ton of face time with a boss that drives you insane is not an ideal situation and can leave you huffing and puffing long after you say good riddance to your desk for the evening. From bullies to hypocrites, micro-managers to flat out fools, a bad boss can equal your worst nightmare. Bad dream everyday…no thanks.

Unfortunately I had to go through the experience of a few job torture chambers before I hit a winner. I spent too many days coming home from work in tears, walking on egg shells for days because I was a nervous wreck or coming home to let my job wrath out on the only person that would listen: my husband. Needless to say I was a mess in and out of the office. It took some serious skill (and serious job hunting) to keep it together at the place I spent over 2,000 hours a year, but a success story doesn’t come without a little bit of hard work and practice.

If you can’t stand your job because you work with a desk devil, here are some ways to cope with that less-than stellar boss:

  1. Don’t Throw the First Punch: Although your blood is boiling after your awful boss embarrassed you in front of your co-workers or took the credit for your hard work, a dramatic outburst may not be the best solution. It’s incredibly hard to bite your tongue when the two-faced supervisor is smirking at you from across the conference room table, but don’t stoop to the level of a verbal brawl. Showing respect in a difficult situation can be a check mark on your growing (personal) resume.
  2. Document your Work: Keep track of your accomplishments and any compliments you may have received from other colleagues. A bad boss will quickly throw you under the bus and having documentation explaining how you went above-and-beyond in your role may be a job saver. Just be sure to keep this information in a safe place!
  3. Make a Bad Boss List: Documenting you boss’s bad behavior with specific details and dates is very important.  You don’t want to be in the HR seat discussing your multiple mishaps with your evil manager and have nothing to say, but “she was mean to me.” A journal of factual incidents with detailed information is good preparation for a tough conversation you may need to have and can double as a therapeutic way to relieve the stresses  of the unbearable work environment.

    I know you may want to punch this, but try to keep your cool...

  4. Be Careful what you Say Behind the Boss’s Back: Although it is extremely difficult to go through a day of hell without being able to unload some thoughts and feelings, you don’t want to nonchalantly complain to the wrong person.  Rule of thumb: befriend your co-workers, but DO NOT talk about your boss to anyone even if the colleague is prying. Being new to the work force I took comfort in a seemingly nice person’s arms and it definitely made my situation much worse. With that being said, it can be extremely beneficial to find a mentor in another part of the company who can give sound advice.
  5. Control the Waterworks: I’ll admit it…I’m a bit of a crier. Not just when I get sad, but when I get stressed or uncomfortable my eyes automatically start to water, my voice starts to shake and my credibility starts to get, well, blurry. And, let’s face it, crying at work does not put you #1 in the promotion line. I have learned how to control the waterworks so I don’t look like a blubbering mess every time I want to have an adult conversation. A few deep breaths does wonders! Take the time to practice overcoming whatever your nervous habit is.
  6. Have “The Talk”: My biggest mistake is being too intimidated by my boss to have a professional, grown-up conversation. Instead I did all of the wrong things and some right things in the wrong order. What I should have done after some time of working extremely hard and trying to kill the situation with kindness is put on a brave face and talked with my boss about addressing my concerns. Make sure to schedule your “clear the air” meeting on their calendar and pick a neutral location like a conference room or coffee shop away from other co-workers.
  7. Don’t Burn Bridges: If you’re lucky enough to cut ties from the evil boss because you found another opportunity or karma caught up to them (which was the case for me!) then “unloading” with a slew of bleeped out comments is not the way to go. Fight the temptation and try to be gracious as there is value in what can be learned from negative situations as much as positive ones.  Plus, this will make a huge impression on others and you never know when you may cross paths again!
  8. Practice Makes Perfect: It is a sad fact that the real world is full of one too many jerk bosses, but there is much to learn about yourself and others in the workforce after being put through the ringer. For example, I know the type of boss I would never want to be and I am much more confident when it comes to speaking to authority now. It is much easier to make a positive spin out of a miserable day in the office after my experiences with the worse of the worse.
  9. Career Check: You’ll never save yourself from the torture your boss throws your way by doing nothing. Problems never get resolved without a little effort. However, if you feel like staying in your current position is wrecking your self-esteem or messing with your health it is likely time to start the job hunt again. After all, being happy in your job is not a folklore.

I hope these tips inspire you to change your ‘tude or make a positive change in your place of work. Unless you are into the wishy-washy, favoritism type like our favorite characters from The Office, in which case I hope your real office is full of humor and maybe a mega desk or two.

Have you ever had a horrible boss? How did you cope? Let’s talk about it below!

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Photo 2 via imagerymajestic via FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Boss comic via


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13 COMMENTS

  1. I guess the kill ‘em with kindness technique doesn’t really work here. I am so fortunate I have such a wonderful boss. There is no reason not to work for someone who does not treat you with respect and care. These are great tips, Talia, in standing up for yourself with finesse, dignity and with character. Jana

    • The kindness technique was a lost cause for me because my boss was REALLY bad. I endured a lot before karma finally caught up with her and she got the boot. I know now how to not let the situation get the best of me from the get go! You are very lucky to have a boss that treats you well. They are hard to come by!

  2. ahhh Horrible bosses was hilarious! =) I have the opposite problem usually — FABULOUS bosses but a few horrible, horrible co-workers. Like so bad I dread going to a job I love because of their overall douchebaggedness. Even when I moved away one of them still continued to torment me. Yuck!

    Killing with kindess helps but I still wanted to screeeeeeam. Talk about traumatized ;) haha
    Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons recently posted..Creamy Pumpkin AlfredoMy Profile

    • I thought there were many more people with bad bass situations! Looks like I was alone. Glad you have never had to deal with such drama. And one of my graphic designer friends helped out, but I conceptualized the piece! Fool of ideas, but zero artistic talent:)

      • You are so not alone in the bad boss situation! I’ve also had a few thrown at me. It’s incredibly hard to deal with, and it makes you feel so alone!

    • The more and more people comment about my boss post the more I think that I was alone in my suffering! You are so lucky to have had good experiences and even more so to be your own boss in a business with your sis. :)

  3. Talia, You are not alone my friend. I know kinda late? But I just came home from another bad day and googled “my boss has me a nervous wreck” and your blog was the first in the search.
    My longest job was 4 years at a place where I had 3 different boss’ and the 2nd boss confessed he had feelings for me after I told him I was dating a colleague. From then on made my life hell, until he was replaced by my 3rd boss who was the best. But I had to leave bc the company was financially unstable and later closed. Ugh so my next job was with a meanie. Left her after 3 yrs to make more money. Next boss was great but I was recruited by a friend and the company she worked for. Turned or friend talked abt me behind my back but I put up w/ it bc I liked my boss. Then that boss left and so did I. Next job nice boss, just drama, like talking behind everyone’s back, but he was let go. I was asked to step up but w/o pay or title, bc they cldnt afford to replace him. I left. Now in my current job according to one of my managers “I obviously just don’t get it.” I feel like I can’t do anything right. She’s worked there 28 years and everyone says she’s a miserable bitch. Great. And no one days anything bc everyone is super nice. :( I don’t know how much longer I can put up w/ it w/out having to get on Zoloft.

    • Hi Julie! Thanks for sharing your story. It is hard to believe how many horrible bosses are out there. My new mantra is to just focus on myself as much as possible. You can’t be in control of anyone else but yourself. Hope things get better for you!

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