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November 2, 2022

How To Deal With A Toxic Boss (Without Losing Your Sanity)

It’s no secret that managers can make or break your experience at work. A good boss can open doors for you and help you accelerate your career, while a toxic boss can make you dread getting out of bed every single morning. If you find yourself currently experiencing the latter, here are some suggestions to […]

It’s no secret that managers can make or break your experience at work. A good boss can open doors for you and help you accelerate your career, while a toxic boss can make you dread getting out of bed every single morning.

If you find yourself currently experiencing the latter, here are some suggestions to help you deal with a toxic boss while still maintaining your sanity:

Evaluate their expectations

It can be hard to know what’s expected of you when you’re dealing with a toxic boss. But, there are two ways to combat this. The first recommendation is to ask for clarity. Set up a time to have a conversation with your boss. Check-in on their top priorities. Ask about their biggest challenges and how you can alleviate them. You can even get clarity on their preferred communication style, particularly if you’re working remotely.

If having a conversation isn’t an option, or if you’ve already exhausted this option, try observing your boss instead. Pay attention to how they interact with others. Take note of the things you do that spark their interest. Observe when they’re the most stressed. Surveying your boss from this perspective can help you better understand how to interact with your manager based on their actions rather than their words.

If you’re already aware of your manager’s expectations, take inventory of how well you’re meeting them. If there are areas of improvement, be vigilant about those areas. However, if you are confidently killing it at work, it’s best to move on to the other suggestions.

Filter the feedback

Once you’re certain you’re doing your job and meeting expectations, it’s safe to assume it’s not you; it’s them. If you have a condescending, overly critical, or insecure boss, recognize that they probably behave this way in other relationships too. Once you acknowledge this, you might even notice that they treat other colleagues the same way they treat you.

So, commit to not taking their behavior personally. Practice filtering their remarks, holding on to the feedback that will help you do your job better and discarding the digs and other comments that won’t add any value to your work or performance. Another thing you can do is to source your feedback elsewhere, which leads us to the next step.

Build your tribe

Because working with a toxic boss can be frustrating and mentally draining, it’s critical to build a tribe at work that can affirm and support your work and your day-to-day experiences. When creating your tribe, you want to find allies, mentors, and sponsors. Your allies might be your team members who work closely with you and your boss. Your mentor should be someone who can help you navigate your workplace woes with wisdom. Your sponsors are those who can speak of your work in rooms you haven’t been able to enter yet and who can vouch for your performance and track record.

While it might take time and intention to establish these relationships, they are worth it, especially the relationships you create with senior leaders and executives who can offer objective feedback, raise your visibility and create new opportunities for you at work.

Fortify your confidence

Having coached many top-performing high-achievers who’ve worked at toxic workplaces, I’ve seen first-hand how those experiences can chip away at one’s confidence. Without much care, it can cause you to second-guess your skills and question your capabilities. This is why it’s essential to protect your confidence so that you don’t wake up one day wondering why you no longer believe in yourself and the skills you’ve worked so hard to master.

One way to do that is to separate your identity from your career by creating a life you enjoy outside the office. Pick up a new hobby. Spend more time with your loved ones. Get in the habit of doing something fun or relaxing after work, even if it’s just once a week. While this might be tough to do when your career is negatively bleeding into your life, it’s essential if you want to maintain your peace of mind and self-worth.

Prepare your exit

While you might be able to survive dealing with a toxic boss, if you find that it’s holding you back from thriving in your career, then it might be time to map out your next career move. If you still enjoy your current company, then this might look like exploring internal opportunities that will allow you to work with a better manager. If you don’t see any value in staying where you are, this might be a chance to start fresh elsewhere.

Sure, it might be easier to stick with the devil you know than the devil you don’t know, as the saying goes. But, giving yourself a chance to find a better working environment can positively impact your career in the long run.

It’s certainly not easy dealing with a toxic boss. Without the right perspective and boundaries in place, it can take a toll on you. But taking the time to implement these steps, whether you choose to quit or not, can help you maintain your sanity and peace of mind even on the tough days.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.

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