People often ask ‘how to work with a bad boss or manager’. The short answer is that you don’t! There is no how. A bad boss is simply someone you should not tolerate. For, do you really deserve to be subjected to pain by someone who can hold arbitrary power over you? Power that is vested in hierarchy.

Authority is not the problem

People often talk about having ‘problems with authority’, but the truth is most people are fine with authority. What they have a problem with is incompetent and/or malicious individuals being in authority. And, things can become very difficult if such a person is your direct boss or manager.  

The impact of your boss on your life is probably only second to that of a spouse or best friend. And, in the same way that people can become trapped in toxic relationships, you can feel trapped with a bad boss. 

Not negotiable

The real question is not then ‘how to work with a bad boss’, rather, WHY do you tolerate working with a bad boss? What makes you stay in such a place? And, there may be all sorts of reasons — from the fear of losing your livelihood, to not having the confidence to confront their bad behaviour. Some stay for the money or status, some stay because they fear change. And, still some have not even realised the extent of the problem, usually because they are secretly in denial about it.

Ultimately, there are some things in life that are just not negotiable no matter what the other positives may be. The same goes for your boss’s behaviour. In the end, you have to decide if putting-up with a bad boss is something YOU are willing to accept. Does it fall into the category of not negotiable? How bad is bad? 

Forget how to work with a bad boss, ask how to break free

Asking ‘how to work with a bad boss’, if anything, is only a last resort. A question you ask when ALL other means of escape are unavailable. Much more life-enhancing questions to ask are: ‘What keeps me in such a place?’ and ‘How can I break free?’

And, breaking free begins with really noticing the extent of the problem. Really waking up to the pain it is causing you and asking if you deserve it? Does anyone deserve it, really? Only by opening your eyes to the truth of things do you give yourself a chance to choose differently.

The rest is about finding the courage to act. 


Harsha PereraHarsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.

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