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How To Deal With a Toxic Boss


Workplace toxicity is one of the major reasons why people switch jobs. One of the primary reasons that lead to workplace toxicity is a toxic boss. Let’s face it – dealing with a toxic boss is difficult. You meet or interact with them on an everyday basis, and your growth and sustainability in the organization largely depend upon their feedback. If your boss is toxic, he is most definitely a micro-manager too. Each of your moves would be noticed and even small mistakes would be highlighted.  However, with the right approach, mindset, and tools, you can maneuver the difficulties that arise when dealing with a toxic boss. So, if you are in a similar situation at your workplace, let’s note down a few actionable points of how to deal with a toxic boss and sustain in a toxic workplace.

Starting with the approach – the best approach to deal with this situation is to be as professional as possible. What does it mean? Simply put, it means talking and acting in a manner that does not hurt anyone’s feelings. Your statements and actions should not feel like a personal attack but they should reflect the professional issues you are facing and how it is degrading the quality of your work. Keep any personal grudges and preferences out of this equation.

When you are in a toxic environment, your natural response is to act aggressively, which can lead you to make irrational decisions. This eventually paves a path for your failure. People tend to capitalize on each other’s emotions and disregard emotionally-led opinions. You do not want to be among those people. So, ensuring that your mental state is clear and ready to handle things diplomatically is crucial. Try being aware of moments when you are emotionally charged like intense anger, wishing ill for a person, or talking negatively about a person with peers.

Next is the mindset–  this can make a huge difference. Do not run from the situation and prepare yourself to minimize the toxicity. Bring the issues to the upper management’s/HR department’s notice and plan a strategy to deal with them maturely. The intention is not to engage in arguments but to set solid boundaries for yourself. 

Having the right mindset for a situation is extremely important. If you are finding it difficult to enter the right state of mind, our advice would be to hold off from making any decision or taking any action. It is best to tackle the bull with a clear head than a mixed-up heart. A strategy that helps form a strong mindset is jotting down your thoughts on paper. Once you have your thoughts jotted down, it’s time to filter logical thoughts from emotional thoughts. Doing this will give you the confidence to be reasonable and logical.

Finally, the tools – these are your plan of action to deal with your toxic boss. Letting the situation play in your favor is challenging without the right strategy. The idea is to control the situation rather than be controlled by it. So, here is a five-step process to deal with your toxic boss at the workplace and be kind when doing so.


Step 1. Stop Paying Much Attention

Most toxic bosses are also absolute narcissists. Narcissists gain their importance when people give them attention. Now, attention can be both positive and negative. For instance, you can talk to your boss positively, which would boost their ego, and criticizing or calling them out on their toxicity will hurt their ego. Anything that hurts their ego equates to giving them some form of attention. You do not want to give any form of importance to a narcissist, so it’s best to ignore them for your well-being. 


Step 2. Take Charge to Change the Situation

It is easy to blame your surroundings for spoiling your mental health. It is easier to point out people and situations as the cause of deteriorating mental health. People often forget that they are fully responsible and accountable for their mental well-being. The lack of accountability will inevitably lead to an unhealthy mental state, and the danger of being stuck in a cycle of blame is imminent. So, when dealing with a toxic situation, it is critical to be aware of your mind directing blame on others for the instability of your mental health. 


Step 3. Confront Your Boss 

If you are able to, you should communicate with your boss and tell them their toxic attitude negatively impacts the workplace. If your boss is sensible, they would most likely consider your statement and self-evaluate their recent actions. They would also thank you for bringing their actions to their notice. However, a narcissist will be enraged when you similarly approach them. If your boss adopts a condescending attitude and refutes your observation, it is time to wave goodbye to the company.

Step 4. Intimate the Higher Authorities

Often, the higher management/HR department is unaware of how toxic the workplace has become. It generally starts with departmental bullying, abuse, or harassment, and the victim sharing the news with the team. Since the news seldom reaches the HR department, the boss’s toxic roots dig deeper and grow stronger. Therefore, when encountering a toxic situation in the office, it’s paramount to approach the HR department and raise the issue as soon as possible. 

5. Plan an Exit Strategy

When the effects of a toxic workplace start affecting your mental peace, it’s time to plan an exit strategy. Mostly, toxic workplaces are beyond repair. Suppose people in the upper management propagate toxicity. In that case, it generally involves a complete or partial overhaul of the management team to bring about a positive effect. Since changes in upper management rarely happen or at a snail’s pace, it is best to plan an exit strategy before the toxic environment takes a toll on your mental health. Start looking for a new opportunity, and if you manage to bag one, it’s time to leave your toxic boss and move on without making a sound.

Final Thoughts

A toxic workplace can significantly damage your mental, emotional, and physical health. A mentally-disturbed person’s mental health can negatively impact one’s personal life and relationships. People rarely pay attention to their mental needs until they are in dire need of help. You don’t want to be one of those people. Therefore Mennmore encourages you to take the necessary actions at the correct times.


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