Signs of a Toxic Boss and How To Handle Them

Signs of a Toxic Boss and How To Handle Them

We’re coming into an age where more and more employees are prioritizing their peace and refusing to put up with negative or harmful behavior from their employers or coworkers. Unfortunately, we all still have to deal with rude people, and even when that person is our boss, we don’t always have the means to simply jump ship.

However, there’s a line between rude and toxic. Once behavior crosses that line, it can affect your sense of work-life balance and even your mental health. If you’re struggling with feeling undervalued, unappreciated, or mistreated at work, take a look at some signs you’re working with a toxic boss and how to handle them.

Their Feedback Feels Rude, Unwarranted, or Passive-Aggressive

Everybody is bound to receive criticism at work that makes them feel a little insecure. However, your employer should always deliver this feedback in a respectful manner that aims to help you improve. If your employer gives you criticism that feels unhelpful, unwarranted, passive-aggressive, or just plain aggressive, you may be dealing with a toxic boss.

The best thing you can do is ask for clarification. There’s a chance they didn’t mean to come off rude or aggressive, and if you ask them to clarify, they’ll have to reevaluate their own words. If what they said hurt your feelings, having a private conversation with them may be best. In these scenarios, it’s best to use “I feel” phrases so that you don’t point blame and put them on the defensive.

They Have Unrealistic Expectations

Does your boss expect all your work to be perfect and criticizes every small mistake? Do they demand that you stay after hours or contact you outside of work or at odd hours? Dealing with a boss who has unrealistic expectations can put you under extreme stress and directly affect your ability to separate work from your personal life.

In these cases, the first thing to do is to reread your employee contract and review exactly what your position’s expectations are. Then, take some time to speak with your boss in private about what their expectations are, and be sure to write them down. This way, when they ask you to do things that push your boundaries, you can point to your employee handbook or their own words. However, if your employer continuously demands that you do work outside your contract and won’t pay you for it, this is a sign it’s time to talk with an employment lawyer.

They Penalize or Criticize Employees in Front of Others

Any criticism given to you or another employee should always be done privately to avoid making someone feel embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated. If your employer doles out criticism or punishes employees in front of others to shame that person, this is unacceptable. This is true even if criticism or penalization is warranted.

If this happens to you, don’t lash out immediately—regardless of whether you’re in the right, you won’t get your point across and will put your job at risk. Instead, immediately write down the who, what, when, where, and why of what occurred in case you need to take the situation to HR. You should then speak with your employer privately to discuss what happened and how they made you feel. If they double down or don’t apologize, take the information to a higher-up. Doing so may not directly benefit you, but it will stop your boss from putting another employee in a similar situation.

Now that you know the signs of a toxic boss and how to handle them, don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself when necessary. Remember that you’re an equal regardless of their position, and you don’t have to apologize for respectfully protecting yourself.

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Article Author Details

Shea Rumoro