How to Deal With a Mean Boss

by Robert Lee; Updated September 26, 2017

The best way to deal with a mean boss? Focus on doing your job extremely well. CNN offers that advice for employees struggling to cope with mean, hyper-critical bosses. Some bosses will never change their personalities or their way of interacting with people, so its best to focus more on becoming a great employee than fretting about your boss's personality. Some bosses are chronic critics who find flaws in everything. Bending over backwards to end the criticism and meanness often leads to more frustration for the employee.

Step 1

Study your boss to learn more about the boss's personality. Watch how he interacts with others. Some mean bosses are mean to just about everyone—and the boss is also likely hyper critical of himself. Spending time learning your boss's personality may help you understand that you are not the problem—and you may even develop some compassion for your boss. At a minimum, understanding your boss's personality and how he treats himself and the rest of the staff will allow you to compartmentalize the boss' meanness as you go about your daily tasks.

Step 2

Stand up to your boss. No, this doesn't mean engaging in shouting matches. Let the boss act like a jerk, if he must, while you maintain a strong degree of professionalism. MSNBC recommends that you should "carry yourself with best posture and wear attire that imparts your professional stature, abilities and success." You should also challenge your boss when you know you are right or have an important point to raise. A mean boss may recognize employees who are easily intimidated—and that can lead to more meanness. Show your boss you're no pushover by coming the work prepared to do a great job each day—and challenging the boss when appropriate.

Step 3

Show your boss that your work ethic is as strong as hers. Consider working the same hours that your boss does—late hours, weekends—whatever it takes. Not everyone can do that, especially working parents. However even the toughest, meanest bosses may develop respect for their hardest workers.

Step 4

Find another job if you have done everything possible to do a great job and bond with your boss—but it just isn't happening. Seek a transfer to another department in the company or leave for an entirely new opportunity.

About the Author

Robert Lee has been an entrepreneur and writer with a background in starting small businesses since 1974. He has written for various websites and for several daily and community newspapers on a wide variety of topics, including business, the Internet economy and more. He studied English in college and earned a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Governor's State University.