How to Survive Working for a Boss You Hate

Working for the worst person on earth can feel like you’re living the worst life on earth.  It is even more painful when in order to keep your job you have to keep working for the boss you hate.

And if you have tried but can’t correct your relationship with your boss, you can feel like you have nowhere to turn.

What can you do so that you can keep your sanity and still work for a boss you hate?

Here are a few suggestions to bring peace to otherwise turbulent waters:

Make Work About You, Not About Them

Once you have decided that your boss drives you crazy, you really have given a lot of your power away.

You would say that your boss clearly has no concern for you. 

At the same time, you are willing to have this careless person affect your mood, your focus, and total outlook.

It’s time to take your power back.

If you care about how you feel, then you need to claim ownership of managing how you feel. 

You may be too emotionally attached to the words, actions, and thoughts received from your boss. 

It is definite that you are prioritizing your engagement with your boss over the preservation of your happiness and sanity.

We won’t even ask if this is your daily regimen but just remember…the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome.

It may be time to let it all go.

When you can’t just up and leave, you must make peace a part of your day-to-day at work.

This is not to suggest ignoring the reality of a bad boss situation. But it is to ensure that you are not ignoring your need for a healthy and happy life.

A simple way to combat the tensions you feel about your boss is to re-confirm the best parts about you to you.

Be prepared at any moment to reinforce your positive mindset and attitude with your personal list of I Am’s:

Your list can be longer, stronger, and made to refute any words that you get from your boss that are opposite to your internal knowing.

You may not be receiving this confirmation from your boss, but you can always provide this reassurance to yourself.

Make a habit of giving yourself this much-needed support and recognition. And reduce your need to receive it from your boss.   

Dive Deeper into Your Work

The whole reason that you are in this mess to begin with is that you have to be at work. 

If you’re lucky, you not only have the benefit of a job but one that you are good at and otherwise enjoy.

Even if you are average at best, it is a perfect time to really become the expert of your craft.

The good thing about work is there is always more of it and it can always be perfected. 

Why not use your work as the perfect productive distraction?

The work environment can be a lot to handle together with a boss you hate.  But it is possible that getting the job done well can make the overall experience just feel better.

Look for ways to improve what you do. Find ways to support your co-workers. Or help the productivity of another department that you connect with.

Be creative and inventive and by doing so bring more fun and energy into your workday.

You may find in developing improvements that you get positive feedback from many people around you.

Try any of these methods to find joy in your work when your boss is anything but a joy to be around:

  • Join or start a new project team for process improvement
  • Have lunch or connect purposely with other staff regularly
  • Give positive feedback to others who have implemented new processes or who have accomplished new achievements
  • Examine your process flow and find ways to perfect it that help you and your co-workers
  • Set micro-targets for midday and business close and track when you hit your goals
  • Clean, organize and refresh your workspace

Big or small, personal or interconnected, you have the ability to make changes to your work experience that can have a positive impact on you by you. 

Choose items that are within your control. Try to reduce things that require permission or intervention by your boss. But also ensure what you do does not cause conflict with your boss’s objectives.

Reclaim your work and your workspace and reclaim your positivity of where you work despite your boss.

Stay Focused on Your Professional Goals

For you, your job may be more than just what pays the bills but also what provides you with growth toward your long-term professional goals.

This means that your time at work is an investment and you should receive the return on your investment.

Distractions, emotional turmoil, and communication strain with your boss can wreak havoc on your learning and progression at work. 

This is not and cannot be acceptable when you have much more to lose than your temper when dealing with your boss.

Keep your eye on the prize and know that all things are temporary.

Learn How to Convert Your Pain to Gain

If you can find your way to achieve your goals despite your terrible boss, you may find this skill to be even more impactful than the ones you set out to learn.

Permit your bigger picture to become more important than your uncomfortable moment.

There are many soft skills that you can obtain by working through tough situations with a difficult boss. 

Today it is your boss.  At your next job, it could be your co-worker.

After that, it could be the leader of your department, division, or company that makes life at work more than a little bit miserable.

See these challenges as opportunities to fine-tune your skills and to prepare you for dealing with any situation you walk into. 

Which ones are you well-practiced in already by dealing with your boss now:

  • Conflict Management
  • Dealing with Difficult People
  • Managing Emotions
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • How to Lead Up

After a year with your boss, you may feel like you are ready to teach a class or are prepped for your own promotion.

While you may not want to be subjected to learning these skills against your will, they can still serve you in and outside of work. 

Find your way to let the burdens with your boss become your blessings and you may become better for it in more ways than you know.

Capture Your Boss‘s Good Side

Your boss may seem all bad, but maybe there are a few positive features that you can find if you change your focus.

This is not an invitation to fool yourself about the realities of your boss’s bad behavior.

But it is an opportunity to soften the hate that you feel for your boss if only for your own benefit.

Carrying regular negativity toward your boss can slant your vision and cause you to start to see everything wrong, even when it’s not there.

This preoccupation can start to make the scope of your problem bigger and bigger and consume your focus on anything else.  

Seeing your boss in balance can provide you relief in-between times when you truly have a negative interaction. 

Softening your gaze can relieve your own tension and stress and pause your negative disposition.  This break from your negative reality can be just what’s needed when you start to feel that you cannot go on like this.

It is important to remember that your boss is just a person.

In their imperfection as a human being, they will make mistakes, act out of turn, and may project out their negativity onto others without thought.

This alone, however, does not mean they have no other attributes to share.

Your boss may be an excellent team member but a terrible leader. 

They may possess strong expertise in writing but have no clue how to speak to people.

It is possible that they can be great with numbers but lack people skills.

You may be surprised to learn that they are an exceptional parent, friend, or teammate out of work but become a whole different person when facing the pressure of work.

Look for the humanity in your boss as a way to understand them better.  You may not accept the treatment you receive but you may at least become aware of the different parts that make them up.

This may help you to remove the personal emotional attachment of their negative behavior towards you.  It may also help to create different emotional pathways when focusing on the better parts about them.

You may also stumble across common interests, passions, or ideas that can help with developing a different type of connection with your boss.

Freeing yourself from the negative focus of your boss may open up a channel for positive experiences to come in.

One Final Thought

While there can be a purpose in making the best out of a bad situation, there are times when poor leadership relationships should not be tolerated.

You have to be clear and honest with yourself about your relationship with your boss. 

Are you dealing with an annoying situation that you feel is putting stress on your focus and emotions?

Or are you in a toxic environment that requires formal reporting, legal action, or even leaving your job?

When you are in the midst of discomfort, sometimes these two roads can seem one and the same.

But they are very different.

Take time to assess the difference between your personal sensitivity to someone’s jerky disposition versus a much more serious matter.

While uncomfortable and emotionally taxing, a bad boss may simply be a bad boss and nothing more. But if it is more, you do not want to subject yourself or anyone else to an intolerable and unacceptable situation.

Take the best direction for what serves you in the best way.  


Dealing with a boss that you hate can make coming to work every day a job in itself.

Find your way to take control of your work experience and place your focus on what serves you best. 

Your boss is not the only person who has an impact on you and your work experience.  Take control of what you can to direct your attention and engagement with your work and with others.  See opportunity in creating meaning and enjoyment in your job.

Your boss may be easy to hate but making your job easy to love can make the total experience worth having.

If you have tried all the tricks and still can’t take another day, it may be time to find another job.  Here are some resources to help you along the way.

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And if you need a little help refreshing your resume, download our free guide Tools for the Best Resume Rebuild Ever.

When all else fails a planned exit may be your most effective solution.

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