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Tips for Dealing with a Bullying Boss

Posted March 22nd, 2012

Are you are stressed or frustrated by bullying at work from your boss? Do you find your boss controlling, demanding, unreasonable, aggressive, rude, unsupportive or just plain incompetent?

If you are fed up and want a better work life, this article highlights a few effective strategies you can use to improve your relationship with your boss and enjoy a happier working life.

Many people don’t realise that individuals who act in an unreasonable or bullying manner, are trying to defend themselves because they are fearful underneath and lack self-confidence. Under duress, some who lack inner confidence will adopt unreasonable, bullying or controlling behaviour to try and “feel safe” again and prevent others noticing their fear. On the surface they may appear confident and aggressive, however, unreasonable behaviour actually indicates someone trying to manage fear.

Understanding the fear behind a bully’s actions gives you more power to deal with them. Instead of thinking this person is trying to persecute me, you recognise this person is frightened. By using strategies to deal with a person who is frightened you can get a much better result.

Understand “The Difficult Boss Character”

Put your boss’s character in perspective. When they are under stress notice what they do: Do they become irritable, critical, ask too many questions, make ridiculous requests, work late, go over details too much, appear manipulative, have aggressive outbursts? These are all signs of an anxious person. Here are some tips below to help you deal with the anxious person underneath the bullying front they present to you.

Tips for Managing a difficult boss:

  1. Don’t take their behaviour personally – it is a reflection of their fear and anxiety not your self-worth
  2. Anxious people are infectious – what this means is that we sense fear in others. If you are feeling anxious in a situation that you normally don’t feel anxious, this can be a signal that it is the other person’s anxiety you are feeling. It is important not to mistake their anxiety as yours. Remind yourself of your strengths as a tool to support inner calm.
  3. Remember bullies are frightened when they are being aggressive – try to see behind the aggression and find out what they are concerned about – this is what needs addressing
  4. Don’t become aggressive or defensive back. This creates an attack defence cycle and because your boss has more power, more often than not, the loser will be you.
  5. Make sure you understand what your boss is concerned about, by asking if it is not clear.
  6. Don’t try to over please as this sets a potential trap for others using you because they can and you feeling burnt out and disrespected. Let them know what you can and cannot do. Be clear about your limits. This gives them an opportunity to respect you (people like to be given the opportunity to express respect) and you an opportunity to respect yourself. It’s a win win situation.


Moving On from a Bullying Boss

There are times when the actions of a bullying boss are intractable and no amount of changing your perspective or strategies can improve the working relationship. In situations like these, moving on to a better work place may be the best solution. However, the reality is that bullying occurs everywhere. The key to success is knowing how to deal with a bully when you encounter them first. Inner confidence and a tool box of effective strategies will enable you to nip any potential bullying in the bud, so it never escalates into a destructive situation for you ever again.

If you would like help to understand the bully you are dealing with and how to address the situation to create the best outcome for you. Feel free to contact us today, we will be pleased to help.

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