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In an ideal world, we would all have fantastic managers—bosses who helped us succeed, who made us feel valued, and who were just all-around great people.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But, whether the person you work for is a micromanager, has anger management problems, shows favortism toward one person, is a flat-out workplace bully, or just isn’t very competent, you still have to make the best of the situation and get your job done.
To help out, we’ve gathered the best advice from around the web for dealing with a bad boss. Try one or more of these tips to find some common ground with your boss—or at least stay sane until you find a new gig.
1. Make Sure You’re Dealing With a “Bad Boss”
Before trying to fix your bad boss, make sure you really are dealing with one. Is there a reason for her behavior, or are you being too hard on him or her?
“Observe your boss for a few days and try to notice how many things she does well versus poorly. When she is doing something “bad,” try to imagine the most forgiving reason why it could have occurred. Is it truly her fault, or could it be something out of her control?”
2. Identify Your Boss’ Motivation
Understanding why your boss does or cares about certain things can give you insight into his or her management style.
“. if the rules are totally out of control, try to figure out your boss’ motivation. Maybe it’s not that he really cares about how long your lunch break takes; he actually cares about how it looks to other employees and their superiors.”
3. Don’t Let it Affect Your Work
No matter how bad your boss’ behavior, avoid letting it affect your work. You want to stay on good terms with other leaders in the company (and keep your job!).
“Don’t try to even the score by working slower, or taking excessive ‘mental health’ days or longer lunches. It will only put you further behind in your workload and build a case for your boss to give you the old heave-ho before you’re ready to go.”
4. Stay One Step Ahead
Especially when you’re dealing with a micromanager, head off your boss’ requests by anticipating them and getting things done before they come to you.
“…a great start to halting micromanagement in its tracks is to anticipate the tasks that your manager expects and get them done well ahead of time. If you reply, ‘I actually already left a draft of the schedule on your desk for your review,’ enough times, you’ll minimize the need for her reminders. She’ll realize that you have your responsibilities on track—and that she doesn’t need to watch your every move.”
5. Set Boundaries
Working with someone who seems to have no boundaries means that you have to go ahead and set them.
“One of the challenges of unlikable people is that they come with equally unlikable behavior—and it’s important to learn how to distance yourself from that behavior. As Robert Frost said, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”
6. Stop Assuming They Know Everything
Just because someone has a managerial title doesn’t mean that they have all the right answers, all the time.
“I realized then that, just because someone is in a position of authority, doesn’t mean he or she knows everything. From that point forward, I stopped assuming the title ‘manager was equivalent to ‘all knowing.’
7. Act as the Leader
When dealing with an incompetent boss, sometimes it’s best to make some leadership decisions on your own.
If you know your area well enough, there is no reason to not go ahead creating and pursuing a direction you know will achieve good results for your company. People who do this are naturally followed by their peers as an informal leader. Management, although maybe not your direct boss, will notice your initiative. Of course, you don’t want to do something that undermines the boss, so keep him or her in the loop.
8. Identify Triggers
If your boss has anger management problems, identify what triggers her meltdowns and be extra militant about avoiding those.
“For example, if your editor flips when you misspell a source’s name, be sure to double and triple-check your notes. And if your boss starts foaming at the mouth if you arrive a moment after 8 AM, plan to get there at 7:45—Every. Single. Day.”
9. Use Tips from Couples’ Therapy
When dealing with disagreement, pull on some tenants from couple’s therapy to work through the issue.
“Simply repeat back to him what he said and ask “Is that what you meant?” (a standard trick ripped from couples’ therapy). If he agrees to your recap, ask him to tell you more about it. When you repeat someone’s perspective back to him, you give him a chance to expound and, crucially, to feel heard.”
10. Avoid Future Bad Bosses
When interviewing with a new company, do your research ahead of time to make sure you’re not getting into another situation with a less-than-ideal manager.
“Have coffee or lunch with one or more staffers at the new company. Ostensibly, your purpose is to learn general information about the company and its culture. However, use this opportunity to discover as much about your potential boss as possible, without appearing creepy, of course.”
Is your boss about to drive you crazy? Do you feel that it is impossible or hard to be engaged and love your job because your boss is a nightmare?
Here are some practical steps to help you cope:
1. Take action at once. It is vitally important that you do something as soon as you realize you are being victimized by a bad boss.
2. Make sure you are doing everything right. Analyze your behavior and how are you dealing with things. It’s likely your bad boss has affected your performance, so try ignoring all these distractions and focus on your work to see if that changes anything. Find other sources of positive reinforcement for doing your job to the best of your abilities.
3. Document your work. Keep track of your accomplishments and of compliments you get from co-workers or managers of other departments. Record the date of these incidents. When documenting these items, try to record as well the significance of the accomplishment. What problem existed at the time? What would have happened had you not acted? How did your action have a positive effect on the entire organization? Keep this information on a system other than your work computer or company network – that is, keep it in a place where you can still access it even if you leave or are terminated.
4. Use objective evidence and confront with evidence. When documenting your accomplishments, try to use objective measurements when recording your work. Confronting your boss with detailed evidence gives you more power.
5. Choose the right time to talk and never approach your boss in the middle of a meeting or when you see him or her in the hallway. Make sure you’re in a quiet, undisturbed place so that you have his complete attention, and you are calm and collected. Try to show how his/her actions reduce motivation, hurt business, or increase expenses. Suggesting specific alternatives makes it easier to introduce positive changes. Agree to follow up at a later date, to evaluate the new situation.
6. Report your bad boss. If you talked to your boss, and did everything right and nothing has changed, consider reporting the bad actions/performance of your boss to his/her supervisor or to someone in human resources. While logic would hold that the company would not want a manager who is hurting performance or productivity, the reality is often that you become branded as a trouble-maker/whiner/complainer and your days at the company quickly become numbered.
7. Don’t step on the little people. Be nice on the way up, you never know who you’ll meet on the way back down.
8. Use humor to cope. Humor is a great way to deal with unpleasant situations. Rather than being upset about a past encounter, try laughing about it. You could even take it one step further.
9. Be guided by your values. Don’t lose sight of who you are or why you’re there. But, if the job is leading you to question your own values or requires you to compromise them, then maybe it’s time to just reconsider.
10. Don’t sacrifice your health or self-esteem. The worst thing you can do is simply to do nothing, hoping the problems will get resolved. No job, boss, or company is worth losing your health, sanity, or self-esteem. If you can’t find a way to resolve these issues and/or your boss simply will never change his/her behavior, you should immediately start working your network and begin looking for a new job. Try not to quit before you find a new job, but again, if work just becomes too unbearable, you may need to consider quitting to save yourself.
Hope these steps help you coping with a bad boss and overcoming the obstacles. Don’t forget that sometimes people see things from different perspectives, so keep your thoughts open and seek professional advice before taking any final decision.
Midnight text messages, blowing hot-and-cold, after-hours cocktail parties you don't want to attend but have to—no, we're not talking about your love life, we're talking about your boss.
"Before, people's roles in the workforce used to be much clearer," says Jane Buckingham, author of The Modern Girl's Guide To Life: Fully Revised and Updated. "You got to work at 9 A.M. and stayed until 6 P.M., worked your way up the corporate ladder, then retired. Nobody had to worry about texting their boss, or how they might connect outside the office. But now, so much has changed—in a lot of companies, especially smaller startups, the traditional hierarchies no longer exist. The question of what your relationship is with your boss is now very different."
If you're dealing with a nightmare supervisor who doesn't respect your personal space, chances are good your boss fits the bill of one of three archetypes: the micromanager, the mood-swinger, or the BFF. Here are Buckingham's tips on how to cope.
Nightmare Boss #1: The Micromanager
We're talking about the super-Type-A supervisor, who treats a 30-seconds-late arrival to a meeting like the apocalypse and texts you for updates on a project due Monday while your out on Saturday night.
"In a way, they can't help themselves," Buckingham says. "They're super high achievers and they're nervous, and they drive their employees crazy, but it's just who they are—they do themselves the biggest disservice because they're doing everybody's work for them."
The key to maintaining your sanity while working under a micromanager is to establish your boundaries—and stick to them.
"Bosses will go as far as you let them," Buckingham explains. "You should never ignore a Type-A boss, because that'll infuriate them, but you have to draw a clear limit. If they're asking you for updates while you're busy over the weekend, say: 'I promise you I'm on top of this, but I'm out so I can't get it to you now. I will get it to you by 11 A.M. tomorrow.' Give the final answer, then don't engage."
Buckingham also recommends beating your supervisor at his or her own game. Get to the office 15 minutes before your boss and send a status-update memo, so it's the first thing they see. Even if some of your projects are only half-baked, Buckingham says, your boss "will feel more in control of the situation (and less likely to hassle you or doubt your ability."
Nightmare Boss #2: The Mood-Swingy Boss
This boss will be sweet one moment and stone-faced the next. But even though the mood-swinger might seem unpredictable, Buckingham says there's always a pattern to the madness. Maybe you'll get a frosty answer if you try to ask anything of them before their second coffee has kicked in in the morning, or if you try to discuss anything 10 minutes before they leave the office.
"It's like having a mean teacher," Buckingham says. "You have to deal with the fact that some people are moody and not always nice—it's just a reality."
When you're dealing with a moody boss, always ask, "Is there anything I can do to help you today?" Buckingham says. You don't want to ask straight-out, "Is there anything wrong?" or try to have a heart-to-heart.
"They may want to unload, or, they may not want to," Buckingham says, but offering to help shows that you're willing to do whatever it takes. And remember, even though it's difficult, you can't take it personally. "When they yell or snap at you, remember, it's not you, it's them—it's just an aspect of their personality," Buckingham says.
Nightmare Boss #3: The "Let's Be Best Friends" Boss
This is the trickiest nightmare boss to deal with, Buckingham says, and a type you're most likely to come across at a smaller company, where the status lines tend to blur over late-night beers. They seem ideal at first—letting you in on office rumors, inviting you along to high-powered company events. But it can turn sticky, real fast. Criticism from these bosses will start to seem personal, and if you have to turn down an invite to an out-of-office event from them, you'll wonder if it'll take a toll on your career growth.
"All relationships have a power dynamic," Buckingham says, "but if someone has the ability to affect your job, that's an unfair power dynamic."
Ignore the siren call of the best-friend boss, appealing though it may seem. "You have to be available, but not so available that you become their only hang-out option," Buckingham says. Make it clear from the get-go that you have other commitments in your life, and involve other coworkers when you attend work-related events. And if your boss discloses some office secrets to you, don't spread them around. Especially in the beginning of a relationship with a "let's be best friends" boss, don't fall into the trap of over-sharing—you don't want to say anything that your boss might one day use against you.
"Your boss is not your therapist. Your boss is not your best friend. Your boss might ultimately become your best friend—that does happen sometimes, and it can be a beautiful relationship if it develops over time, but it truly has to develop over time," Buckingham says.
Many nightmare bosses play psychological mind games with their colleagues.
By becoming aware that you may well be part of one of their ‘games’, then this can empower you to step away from an unhelpful or destructive interaction.
In Transactional Analysis (TA) psychotherapy, Berne identifies a vast array of psychological games people can play with each other. On a social level, each interaction or game is played out as a seemingly normal adult to adult interaction. Yet, beneath the surface, on a psychological level, hides the true identity of the two individuals playing their games – which roles they are playing and their true intent.
NOTE: In TA, we can enter into one of three roles in an interaction with another person. In very basic terms these are: a Parent role (nurturing or critical parent); an Adult role; a Child role (free-spirited or rebellious child).
Here are three ‘games’ we’ve seen played out in the workplace by nightmare bosses:
1. ‘Now I’ve Got You, You Son of A Bitch’
This is played out by someone who enjoys the discomfort of others.
Berne uses the example of a poker game, in which one P1 gets an unbeatable hand but he’s more interested in the fact P2 is at his mercy than he is in playing poker.
We’ve seen this play out in the workplace over a hotel expenses’ claim. A team member (P1) was staying overnight in a hotel after a business conference. He knows expenses are rarely checked, so given how hard he’s worked at the conference, he justifies buying extra drinks that take him over the ‘standard expenses’ allowance. But knowing how expensive the hotel is, the line manager (P2) decides to check the expenses and is indeed delighted to have caught P1 out. She calls P2 into her office and ask how the conference was, and what his evening meal was like, and did he have a few drinks to relax. She then talks about how tight budgets are and how certain individuals are being unethical with their expenses. After some time watching P1 squirm, she slams down P1’s expenses claim and demands an explanation, questioning P2’s integrity and ethics until eventually P2 pays for the extra expenses himself.
In this instance, both were playing games – the P1 by submitting the bill while knowing he’d overcharged, P2 by toying with him. Instead of negotiating in an adult way, perhaps showing a little innocent annoyance, P1 criticises team member’s character.
A parent-child dialogue is occurring beneath the surface.
2. “Why Don’t You – Yes, But…”
Person 1: “These figure don’t seem to add up.”
Person 2: “I can never seem to make these figures add up.”
P1: “Why don’t you ask Andy to help out – he’s good with figures.”
P2: “Yes, but he’s always so very busy.”
P1: “Why don’t you use the formulas in the Excel spreadsheet?”
P2: “Yes, but I’ve not been trained in Excel.”
P1: “Why don’t go on a course?”
P2: “Yes, but I don’t really have the time?”
The game goes on until finally P1 runs out of ideas and there’s silence. P2 will reject all solutions. The basis of the game is that no suggestion is ever accepted, and the P1 is never successful.
For P2, the eventual silence from P1 brings its own little pleasure – P1 is just as inadequate as me for neither you nor I can find solutions for me.
P1 is playing the Adult. P2 is playing passive aggressive through the Rebellious Child.
3. “See What You Made Me Do!”
Person 1 (P1) is feeling unsociable and becomes engrossed in an activity that will insulate him against other people. A work colleague (P2) interrupts him while P1 is writing a report at this computer.
P2: “Do you know where John is? We’re due in a meeting together in 20 minutes.”
The interruption causes P1 to hit a wrong key on his computer and he loses his work. P1: “See what you made me do!”
This gets repeated over the years until eventually people leave P1 alone when he’s engrossed. Of course, it’s not the person interrupting but P1’s own inability to control his emotions and temper that causes him to make a mistake.
This game can soon become a way of life, rather than merely used as an occasional reaction. For instance, P1 might deferentially go along with the team’s decision is an effort not to micro-manage, and if things turn out well P1 can take the praise and say “See what a wonderful manager I am because of the freedom I give my team”. But when things turn out badly then P1 blames others with a new game: “Look What You Got Me Into!”. It’s a double-combination that’s played out not only at work but in many marriages.
P1 is playing the Rebellious Child and P2 the Adult.
Which online workshops can help you develop new tactics & avoid these games?
Realising that you’re involved in a ‘game’ is an important first step and it takes some skill in identifying the games. The real skill, however, comes in taking an adult position in all work interactions.
To find out how, take a look at Marie’s online training video courses on How to Deal with your Nightmare Boss.
If you’re looking for an online course specifically for business soft skills, take a look at our list of online classes for managers and leaders. We provide some the best online business courses for managers and leaders. If you want to become upskilled in the workplace, our online training videos for the workplace are a combination of training videos, online classes and self-completion training tools, as well tutor support.
In Diablo 2, when you reach Nightmare and Hell you will notice that many things are immune to one or more elements, and sometimes physical damage.
I often run into situations where there may be anywhere between 1 (a unique) or an entire room filled with monsters that are completely immune to anything I can do. That is, they might be physical and lightning immune when I’m playing a Paladin with maxed out Holy Shock + Zeal. I can switch to Holy Fire or Holy Freeze however these deal less damage than the speed at which the enemy regenerates.
Is there a solution other than completely avoiding these enemies that I haven’t thought of? Sometimes it gets really difficult because a really common enemy for an area might be immune to everything you can do (making them almost impossible to avoid).
4 Answers 4
Monsters are considered "immune" when their resistance to an element becomes 100 or greater. The lowest that a monster’s resistance to any element can be lowered is to a combined total of -100. (For PvP, this also is true against enemy players/minions).
Take note that a unique/boss mobs that spawns with "[Element Name] Enchanted" will have an extra 75 [Element Name] resistance (to that one element), and a "Magic Resistant" Unique/boss mob will gain 40 elemental resistance (fire, cold, and lightning).
There are 4 ways to break immunities.
Only Amplify Damage and Decrepify (both Necromancer Curses) can remove physical resistances, if the monsters resistances will allow it (see below).
Sanctuary (Paladin aura) ignores the positive physical resistance or immunity of Undead mobs in a certain radius around the Paladin.
Vengeance/Berserk can help by adding/converting magic/physical damage to physical/magic damage, respectively.
Only Conviction (Paladin Aura/Infinity Runeword) and Lower Resist (Necromancer Curse) can break elemental immunities, although Conviction does not affect poison resistances.
Any element immune monster with elemental resistances >=144 cannot have their immunity (to that element) broken.
Any physical immune monster with physical resistances >=120 cannot have their immunity be broken.
When breaking an immunity the amount the resists are reduced to suffer a penalty of 20% (or 1/5) effectiveness, so -100 physical resistances from Amplify Damage (-50 for Decrepify) becomes -20 (-10 in the case of Decrepify) when breaking immunities, so anything with >=120 resistance cannot be broken.
Conviction and Lower Resist (at level 30, they offer -150 and -70 resistance, respectively) stack to a maximum of -44 resistance against immune mobs.
Items effects that reduce resistances cannot break immunities, this includes Rainbow Facets, Griffon’s Eye, and similar items. These items will only work to their full effect after the immunity/ies is/are broken, by the aforementioned skills.
For regular mobs, lightning immunity is the easiest to break, as it’s usually 100 to 110 resistance. These immunities can usually be pierced by the Conviction Aura from the Infinity Runeword.
Fire immunity is a bit harder, as the mobs usually have 110 to 130 resistance. The Conviction Aura from Infinity Runeword usually cannot break these immunities, but a Paladin/Necromancer with higher Conviction/Lower Resist can break these.
Cold immunity is hardest to break, as mobs usually have 150+. It usually unbreakable with the reduced effectiveness penalty of resistance lowering skills.
For additional info on monster resistance and immunity mechanics, go here and here.
Let me tell you about the time a priest almost punched me in the face.
I was at work. In fact, he was my boss. Not sure if that makes it better or worse.
I walked into the building, ready to get my photographers together to go on their daily shoots. I was the senior producer for the communications arm of a Catholic Diocese, and it was my job to put together a weekly magazine show with the pertinent news of the day. The vibe was off in the room. Sally was scurrying around with her head down, no greeting, and Bryce was holed up in his editing bay with the door shut. I checked on our footage from the previous day, but the tape deck wouldn’t play. It was broken.
“Hey, Sally, the deck is broken. I’m going to go tell Father Joe.”
“No! Don’t do that!” There was fear in her voice. “He’ll say we broke it. He’ll be mad.”
I asked if they had broken it, and they had not. Time had. It was 30 years old.
I was the new hire, and in my mind, when you tell the boss an old piece of equipment isn’t working, the boss takes care of it. The end.
But I was wrong. Sally was right.
Father doesn’t know best
When I told Father Joe, he stormed into the room and demanded to know who had broken the deck. He was actually angry and he wouldn’t stop yelling. You could tell the rest of the staff was used to this. They cowered, and stayed silent, eyes down. They accepted their ‘punishments.’ Bryce was ordered to dredge the pond on the property, and Sally had to wash the Father’s car.
As a typical American worker, I was taken aback. I said no. This was my staff and we had real work to do. When I didn’t back down, he intensified and so did I, until we were yelling at each other, face-to-face, in the hallway.
Suddenly, I was staring at the business end of my boss’s fist which stopped, as if frozen, right above his shoulder, where I assume he’d pulled it back out of some caveman reflex or something. He never threw that punch, but as a 26-year-old woman, it was scary even posed in threat.
I stood my ground. He backed off.
He never apologized, and I continued to work for him (jobs are hard to come by). We got a new tape deck.
We’ve all been there
Most bosses aren’t that bad, but almost everyone has had at least one horrible boss in their careers. Whether it’s the micromanaging middle manager, the team lead who sabotages her own working group members to look better, or the CEO who says he can’t do it all, yet pops up in every meeting with a racist, misogynistic or narcissistic story, to which his underlings must nod along or risk losing their jobs.
Currently, my boss frequently says things like “we need to hot it up,” and he “holds working groups,” and “circles back offline,” and wants his staff to be “proactive in recruiting volunteers,” and constantly reprimands people for not replying on Slack in the correct thread. Honestly, this inane dribble wears at my soul just as much.
What do you do when your boss is a complete asshat?
1) Fly under the radar.
Don’t do what I did, if it can be avoided. If you need the work, and your boss is annoying but not a detriment to your mental health (or violent), it can be beneficial to keep your head down and do your work, with as little interaction as possible. You don’t want to completely ignore the boss, or give him or her an inkling that you don’t want to talk to them. You want to be completely neutral. Pleasant on the outside, when you cross paths, but keeping that path-crossing to a minimum.
The best way to do this is to meet your benchmarks, do solid work, clock in, clock out, and get out of there.
2) Find common ground.
Simply existing at work is not a tenable solution for the long term. It will suck the soul out of you, and leave no energy for your life outside of work. It will become a spiral of exhaustion and negativity that you keep inside, and it will hollow you out.
A better way to get around your boss is to charm them somehow. Think of it as tactical training. Find areas that interest them that you can fall back on during conversation, be amenable and kind, and steer the conversation away from topics that irk you with nuance and grace.
3) Keep organized notes and copious records.
For the boss who is never pleased, try not to take it personally (even if it is or seems very personal). Keep notes on every step of every project you complete. Use spreadsheets with marked goals and keep all responsible parties in the loop at every advancement. This way, when questions arise, you have direct and quantifiable answers for your boss, a marked past plan and steps into the future. It covers you, and also shows organizational skills and project management.
4) Find your people.
Usually, if a boss is a bad apple, there are workers who know it, and to make it bearable, they bring the jokes. Find them, and your life will be immeasurably better. Texting ridiculous one-liners back and forth can make the obscene and annoying things coming out of the boss’s mouth fodder for creativity and laughter, rather than feeling belittled, unheard, and disgusted by the end of the meeting. Inside jokes among friends to point out the absurdities of life and work at the expense of the cause can make the days go by. We laugh so we don’t cry, right?
5) Look at your contract and consider human resources
There are some things that cross a line, some things that cannot be handled with deferment or politeness, or one-on-one at all. If someone is causing harm through bullying, racism, homophobia, or sexism, it needs to be addressed further up the chain.
Keep in mind, these are things that go well beyond your typical boss asshattery. Before going to corporate or human resources, if you have that structure to fall back on, check out the contract you signed before starting work. Look for clauses that will protect you when you bring complaints against your boss. Know exactly what your rights are, and what boxes you need to check.
Look into your human resources department before lodging your complaint. While HR is supposed to be neutral, some companies and nonprofits have it set up so that HR is only there to protect the power structure. They will harangue you and cause you to doubt yourself, and look for information to discredit you if you need to escalate. Most human resources departments, however, are independent and will take your query seriously.
Keep the ACLU and other rights groups in your pocket for extra layers, if you need to go outside the company.
6) Start sending out that resume.
Many times, just knowing you are taking steps to get out of a bad situation will lift your spirits. Give your own self hope by making moves to get out. Every bad joke, every mean-spirited jab, every micromanaging nag seems less onerous when you have one foot out the door. And it will give your work a new purpose, too. Take on projects that will pad your portfolio. Learn new skills, and increase your value while there. You do you. Living well will be a good revenge.
All in all, you are in the hard spot, since you most likely need the job. I know I did. But most of the time, you can find ways to work and deal and get on with everything in spite of your ridiculous boss.
Coming soon to an office near you: a nightmarish tale of woe, power trips and mandatory Saturdays. A horrific journey through unreasonable expectations and endless TPS reports. Tread carefully, or you might find yourself face-to-face with…
Sound familiar? Do you have one of those bosses who completely changes the dynamic of the office whenever they’re around? Have you identified the sound of them entering the building and developed an almost Pavlovian sense of dread as a result?
It turns out you might not be alone. In fact, apparently bosses are four times more likely to exhibit psychopathic behavior than the average individual. If you find yourself stuck dealing with a boss straight out of a horror film, here are seven tips to make the experience a little less frightening.
The first thing to remember about a nightmarish boss is that they are, unfortunately, still the boss. No matter how badly you might want to tell them off, they’re still signing the checks. So, for the time being at least, you’re required to be the better person and stay rational. Don’t let them ruffle you into saying or doing something that costs you your job; remember to take deep breaths, stay calm and leave the room if you have to. Whatever strategy works best for you, use it well to keep your composure.
Sometimes the easiest way to deal with a bad situation is just to remove yourself from it entirely. And no, I don’t mean inexplicably running to the roof with no way to escape. If your boss is a constant terror around the office, why not work somewhere else? Luckily, with workplaces increasingly shifting away from traditional work hours and environments, working outside the office has never been easier.
Headphones Are Your Friend
As a music junkie, I never come to work without my ear buds, and Spotify is always open on my laptop. In the world of horror flicks, having headphones on and being oblivious to your surroundings is a surefire ticket to a quick, unexpected demise. However, in the working world, headphones can help mitigate some of the stress that comes from constantly listening to your nightmarish boss prowling around the office. Even if the venom isn’t directed at you, it can still be unnerving to hear. So when appropriate, drown it out with your favorite jams or relaxing tunes.
Prove Yourself (to Them)
Over time, you might find that one of your boss’s more nightmarish tendencies is always harping on some menial task or relatively unimportant part of your job that’s never done quickly or efficiently enough for their liking. It becomes their go-to point of complaint regardless of your accomplishments. However, if you make that task a priority and constantly deliver it ahead of schedule and at a high level, you can take away their complaint, effectively proving yourself to them and getting them off your back. Every great movie villain has an Achilles’ heel.
Misery Loves Company
Even if you’re convinced that your boss is some sort of psychopath, there’s always that nagging question in your mind: Is it me? Are they really that bad or am I overreacting? This is where it pays to commiserate with your coworkers. If you’re really worried that you’re the odd one out, spend some time listening to the scuttlebutt (thank you, Dwight Schrute) around the office. If your boss is as nightmarish as you think, it shouldn’t be long before you overhear some complaints. Few things are as cathartic as a nice long vent session over lunch with your team, regardless of whether the topic is your boss or a plan to survive the zombie apocalypse.
Sometimes the only way to survive a brush with terror is to rely on the grizzled veteran, the guy who’s “seen it all” and can lend their expertise to your plight. After all, even bosses have standards they’re expected to live up to. If you feel that your particularly nightmarish boss is going beyond the realm of jerkdom and into abusive territory, don’t be afraid to pay HR a visit. If nothing else, they will have suggestions of how to properly handle your problems. And you’ll successfully shed some light on your boss’s evil ways.
Know When Enough is Enough
Unfortunately, some bosses are simply too much to handle, and just like the horror villain, they always find a way to come back for sequel after sequel. While the situation may not always allow for it, sometimes the only solution is to cut your losses and find new employment.
I’m not going to lie to you and say your job is always going to be something you enjoy. But if you’re in a consistently upsetting, stressful and denigrating environment, you owe it to yourself to consider making a change. For every nightmarish boss out there, there’s a positive, inspirational and uplifting one waiting to give you a shot if you can earn it. Don’t be afraid to go find them!
Have you ever had a brush with the boss of your nightmares? Share your stories here, and we can help you troubleshoot the horror!
There is no single entity known as the “nightmare boss”, but here a few phrases you might recognise.
- ‘I want the impossible…yesterday!’
- ‘You’re useless, you idiot!’
- ‘Where did I put that thingummy?’
- ‘What is my job, exactly?’
- ‘You can’t tell me anything, I already know about it!’
- ‘Didn’t you know about it? I’m sure I told you…’
These are the sorts of phrases you’ll hear from the overly demanding boss, the belittling bully, the chaotic boss, the dreamer, the know-it-all and the boss who doesn’t really communicate.
Each of these traits has their methods of being dealt with, some with the right word or a change in approach, and others with more drastic action. However, the first thing you need consider is – is it you, or the boss where the problem lies? Or maybe somewhere in between?
To work that out, it’s necessary to step back from the emotional wheel that can be continually wound up by a difficult boss, take a breath and look at things in the round. Sometimes it can be the simplest of things that make the difference.
Some people, for example, are logical sequential thinkers. This means approach a task at the beginning and work out the steps on the way. This approach sits uncomfortably with the non-sequential logical thinker, who raises information as they think of it, have an order in their head… eventually… but don’t present information in this way. When these two types meet, the non-sequential thinker gets frustrated with what seem like obvious or irrelevant questions, while the sequential thinker just wants a clear direction and framework to operate in.
Then there are the big vision thinkers and the detail thinkers. Again, this can lead to confusion in communication, but bear in mind too that when they work well together, the detailed PA and the big vision boss can have a symbiotic relationship – the one filling in the gaps in the other’s aspirations!
There are many other thinking styles that might be causing the problems, so be patient and make a study of your boss to see if there’s an obvious reason for the nightmare element!
However, no amount of study will deal with the belittling bully. In this case, it’s a matter of learning to detach your emotions and hit that Zen state – or, alternatively, if that doesn’t suit you, look for work elsewhere. You aren’t paid to be a punch-bag, after all. That said, there are ways to manage the bully. One is to ensure that you stand your ground, firmly and calmly. Bullies tend to latch on to people who unconsciously show submission. Don’t have a blazing row, but remember, you have a choice to communicate what you are willing to accept and to make that clear. It is surprising how many bosses are unaware of their unconscious behaviour, and slip into patterns of being overbearing under stress, without knowing iy.
To avoid misunderstandings with a poor communicator, one trick is to listen carefully to what your boss says and then repeat it back to them, asking them clearly – “is that what you meant?” This trick reassures a nervy boss that you understood the task and you can be trusted to finish it.
With the boss who seems over-demanding, work out if there’s a pattern to their demands. Do they have a particular attitude to working hours that doesn’t match yours? Do they get agitated if something is one second beyond deadline? If so, work out how you can always bring it in ahead of time.
Some bosses have great instincts but terrible organisational skills. Let’s face it, that’s why they have a PA. So if you’re dealing with such a boss, it’s time to take them in hand, keep them to schedule and manage them in a pro-active way. Perhaps this what they and you need to make it work.
Remember, dynamics in relationships can change with the right approach. There are countless ways to “work out” your boss, so it looks like as well as doing all that work and organisation they’re asking for, you’re going to have to become an amateur psychologist. To do that, watch and listen. And most of all, apply your patience. If you start to treat part of your task as getting to a point where you “get” your boss, where you understand them, then the troubles on the way are steps towards a better working relationship.
Ideally, you’ll be able to fill in the places where they are less strong, and they will begin to understand your capabilities in turn. Of course, there’s many a slip betwixt cup and the lip, but ask yourself, what do you need to learn to really manage your boss?
Have you found yourself working for someone you consider inept? You’re not alone.
Dealing with a bad boss is practically a working world rite of passage. While no manager is perfect, a genuinely incompetent one can make their employees’ lives a nightmare.
Luckily, there are some strategies to help you cope.
Signs Your Boss Is Incompetent
Before going any further, it’s vital to identify whether your boss really is incompetent.
Here are some telltale signs that the person in charge is not up to their leadership tasks.
- Indecisiveness. Ineffective bosses are often incapable of making decisions, going back and forth on matters that need an immediate answer.
- Bad decision making. When they do decide, incompetent bosses tend to make misjudged, poorly planned decisions. Yet somehow, they always seem to save themselves at the last minute.
- Lack of direction. Unqualified bosses are generally unable to provide a strong focus for their team, either because they have trouble communicating their desires or don’t know how to lead.
- Over-reliance on subordinates. Incompetent bosses commonly have no idea how to do their own jobs but are often acutely aware of how to tap into their employees to get things done.
Before deciding definitively that your boss is useless, try observing them for several days to gain a fair assessment. Note specific ways they fail to measure up: do they lack basic knowledge?
Are their communication skills subpar? Are they genuinely incapable?
Analyze any poor decisions they make, and try to understand if things were really your boss’s fault.
How to Deal with an Incompetent Boss: 8 Strategies
Still reading? Then it’s time to learn how to deal with an incompetent boss.
Here are eight strategies to make your life at work more bearable.
1. Be Empathetic
It can be tempting to demonize an under-qualified boss. Instead, try to be as empathetic as possible and learn as much about this person as you can.
They may be experiencing a hardship that you don’t know about, or they may be under intense pressure from their own boss.
Having empathy for their situation may not change them, but it can help improve your outlook.
2. Focus on Your Work
One natural reaction when dealing with ineptitude is to let your work slide. But, as hard as it may be, try to keep your boss’ shortcomings from affecting the quality of your work.
Remember why you took the job in the first place, and keep these motivations at the forefront.
You want to stay on good terms with the rest of your coworkers and the other managers at your company, so focus on what you can control: your work.
Stay professional, and avoid passive-aggressive behavior like taking excessively long lunches or tardiness.
3. Be a Leader
Your boss’s inability to make decisions, coupled with a lack of direction, may leave you and your teammates without a clear plan of action.
Though frustrating, this situation may be a blessing in disguise, as it leaves room for other leaders to come forward–like you.
So step up and fill in the gaps where you can. Not only will your coworkers be prone to follow you, but they’ll also likely be grateful to have someone to guide them.
And it might take some time, but upper management will probably notice your initiative, which may prove key in advancing your career.
Just take care not to undermine your boss, so keep them informed of decisions.
4. Develop Coping Strategies Based on Their Shortcomings
The right coping strategies are essential for dealing with a bad boss, and their shortcomings will dictate the strategy you develop.
Dealing with someone who doesn’t know how to handle pressure requires a different plan of attack than dealing with a boss who doesn’t listen.
So take some time to analyze their shortcomings, and respond accordingly. Once you know their deficiencies, you can decide whether to ignore them, work around them, or confront them directly.
For example, if you find that lateness sends your boss into a rage, always arrive a bit early.
5. Find Support in Your Colleagues
Keeping the stress of dealing with your boss bottled up can take a toll. Find support in your colleagues, who can help you blow off steam and perhaps provide invaluable advice.
After all, they’re probably dealing with something similar. They’ve likely developed their own strategies for making life with your incompetent boss more bearable.
6. Document Everything
Eventually, the imperfections of an incompetent boss may cause issues for the department or company.
Unfortunately, when the higher-ups come asking questions, your manager’s actions may very well cast aspersion on your work.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to document all interactions with your boss in case you need to prove their incompetence. Flagging emails or even keeping a detailed log may prove essential to keeping your reputation intact.
Be sure to save anything that shows that their actions have kept you from doing your work–or worse, any evidence of them doing something against company policy or illegal.
Leaving is a last resort, but sometimes it’s the best course of action when things become unsustainable.
If you find yourself in a situation where your mental health or career goals are suffering from an incompetent boss, it might be time to consider your exit strategy.
You may want to look for a transfer to another department or considering leaving the company entirely.
8. Avoid Future Incompetent Bosses
Even if a potential manager seems fantastic during an interview, the reality of working with this person may be completely different.
While you can’t always be sure that your new boss will be a great match, there are ways to avoid similar scenarios.
When interviewing at a new company, do your due diligence before committing to a position.
You may want to have lunch or a coffee date with your potential coworkers to get a pulse on life at the company–and, most importantly, what your maybe-manager is like.
Just make sure to tread lightly; you don’t want to come off as overbearing.
It can happen to anyone. there’s a change in the organization and — suddenly — you find yourself working for the boss from Hell. Arrogant, demanding, ignorant, bullying and insensitive. Do you leave right away? Do you fight back? Here are some tried and tested ways of coping with impossible bosses — and coming out on top.
1. Find ways to boost your confidence
This is the single most important indicator of success. Asshole bosses typically work to undermine your self-confidence the whole time. Don’t allow this to happen. Recite your strengths back to yourself. Keep notes of accomplishments. Celebrate every success.
2. Don’t collude
Start looking for the subtle ways you hold yourself back by colluding with the asshole boss. When you find them, stop them at once. It’s too easy to accept the negatives and try to avoid pain by selling yourself short. Don’t do it — EVER.
3. Establish a “territory” and control entry
Make sure you show your job is important. The establishment of a “territory”, part physical, part psychological shows others that you see your job as important. Treat it that way yourself and make sure others do so as well. The aim is to make others take you seriously as someone who does something important — even vital — to the future of the organization and it’s business.
4. Be your own advocate
Don’t explain your ideas to your asshole boss and let him take them to the people who matter. You can be sure he’ll imply he thought them up himself and will take all the credit. Make sure you present your own ideas. Try informal meetings at first — invite a few people (plus your boss) to “help you” with something you’re trying to sort out. Make use of opportunities of formal meetings as well. Don’t try to undermine or obviously bypass your boss. Just come out with the bones of the idea and make sure people know it’s yours. If he tries to stop you, say you were getting feedback before bringing the completed idea to him. You know how busy he is and don’t want to waste his time with something that may turn out to be impractical.
5. Use informality to let people see your ability
Use informal meetings — say after work, where people just chat — to talk casually about your ideas and what you’ve achieved. If they exist, make a point of going. If they don’t, start some. be seen as the person around whom the talk circulates. That way people will recognize you as an important person.
6. Develop your staff
Work as hard as you can at developing your own staff. Be everything to them your boss isn’t to you. Nothing gets people noticed faster than capable, loyal staff who tell everyone what a great boss they have. If the people below you are headed upwards fast — and they’re loyal to you — they’ll push you up ahead of them.
7. Spread the word subtly
Copy the right people in on your messages, but do it subtly. Don’t copy everything to everyone. That will make you look pushy. Just ask yourself who else (other than your boss) has a legitimate interest — who else could find what you’re saying genuinely helpful — and add them to the cc’d list.
8. Create a portfolio of your best work
Use it to remind yourself of your worth and boost your self-confidence. It will also be extremely handy if you need to think about getting another job that fits your abilities better (and another boss who isn’t an asshole) and need to revise your CV/resume.
9. Document, document!
Keep your files and paperwork meticulous. Document everything important. If your asshole boss tries to blame you for his mistakes, make sure you have documentary proof that you did exactly what you ought to have done. Never argue or get angry. Let the facts speak for themselves.
10. Treat others well
Always treat others as you want them to treat you. If you want them to take your achievements seriously, make sure that’s what you do. If you want them to see you as someone important, treat yourself that way. No one will ever see you as more useful or important than you see yourself.
11. Never, NEVER fight
Never complain. Never whine. People have very little tolerance for — or interest in — the problems of others, especially if they’re gloomy or likely to cause trouble. If you fight, people will avoid being involved. If you complain, they’ll try to keep out of it. If you whine, they’ll see you as the problem. Be generous with praise. People love to be praised and recognized — and love people who do it to them. The more you praise others — with justification — the more they’ll praise you. The same applies to criticism.
12. Be deserving of success
Be helpful and generous to everyone you meet on your way up. They’ll remember you for it and won’t try to pull you down once you’ve reached higher things. Have everyone convinced — and saying — you richly deserve your success. Companies aren’t democracies, but top people don’t get there by ignoring public opinion.
Organizations are like clubs
The people who get to the top positions choose others they like. They don’t choose problem people they don’t trust. You need to establish three things without question:
1. You’re outstanding at what you do today.
2. You’re completely trustworthy.
3. You’re a really nice person to have around.
Do this and you’ll be unstoppable — whatever your boss says.
Adrian W. Savage writes for people who want help with the daily dilemmas they face at work. He has contributed more than 25 articles to leading British and American publications and has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Chicago Tribune.