How to Deal with a Difficult Boss.

  | 4 min read

I once worked at a supermarket during a time when it was changing ownership and management. The old owner was an affable old man who much preferred to flirt and joke than to actually manage the place (explains why they were selling anyway). The new owner was, on the other hand, overly zealous, probably trying to get back the money invested. He talked too fast, smoked like a chimney and barely said a kind word (except when he was drunk).  The head of the department I worked in, Zahara (not real name) was caught between these two worlds. She was used to slacking because of Mr. Affable and Flirty, but Mr. Over Zealous demanded that she do more, and supervise us more closely. One day, Zahara found a fellow cashier closing up her till for the day at about 4:30 pm. Her shift was ending at 5, but in “Mr. Affable’s” reign, nobody cared what time you closed up, as long as it was close enough to the ending time. Zahara and Lazy Cashier got into a fight, right in front of the customers. Of course pre-new owner Zahara had been a friend and suffice to say Lazy Cashier had enough information ammunition to embarrass Zahara. (I heard something about Zahara’s boyfriend leaving her for a younger woman) Predictably, Zahara became a difficult boss from that day, exacting and irritable, probably to show Mr. Zealous that she could handle employees like Lazy Cashier. You know what they say about every experience teaching you something new. So, you can call the following the Zahara Tips on Dealing with a Difficult Boss:


  1. Be Above Board

The best way to stay out of trouble with that difficult boss is to follow the primary school motto: do the right thing at the right time in the right way in the right place with the right people. Of course you cannot be perfect, but anybody would find it difficult to pick a fight with you if you turned in your work a day or two before the deadline. It is possible to be above reproach, and that way your work can speak for you even if that “Difficult Boss” tries to accuse you falsely.


  1. Maintain Your Cool

Difficult Boss may rouse you to anger with a snide remark, a false accusation, or even irritate you with her high heeled shoes or his lecherous tone, but you have to stay calm. Lazy Cashier got fired after her shouting match with the boss and so will you if you are exchanging angry emails with your boss or yelling at them in the corridors for everyone to hear. Your own words can be used against you, quite literally.  Also, it alienates the person and strains your relationship even further.


  1. Keep Track

It is imperative that you have a record of all dealings with Difficult Boss. Carry a notebook with you and write things down when they give instructions verbally, so that you do not forget something and give them an excuse to start a quarrel. Follow up with e-mails (where possible) and have everything on record so that nobody accuses you falsely. Have an organized desk so that no documents go missing and cause trouble. In short, be alert.


  1. Assert Yourself

Having a difficult boss does not mean you should cower and become part of the furniture out of fear. Remember that you were hired because someone thought you would be a valuable asset to the organization/company. Be sure to say what you think in a respectful and clear manner especially if there is a disagreement. It does no good to grumble and gossip about Difficult Boss with your workmates.

To sum all this up, when you become the boss, don’t be like those bosses you complained about. Be the kind of boss you wished your difficult boss could be.




    • We would advise to keep you calm and be patient in handling the issue. Choose to have the upper hand and respect them as well make it clear that you are not to be undermined (remember to do this in a respectful and professional manner as well. Look out as well for the reasons why they could be doing this and how you can avoid it. If the situation gets out of hard seek help from your HR.

    • Scovia, It is very wrong for people you supervise to treat you the way you have explained however old they may be. You’ve behaved well by minding your business and I think with time they will learn from their mistakes and some shall come back to start gossiping to you about the others. Again do not give an ear, just stick within the rules of the game. Should they continue to insult you (be taking record of every such insults) take the matter to your immediate supervisor.

    • I were hired coz u were the best and the company expects alot from u keep positive, keep minding your own business do what your supposed to do. Remember they are doing everything to fail u. Note that in all the decisions u make u shd consider the best course of action, eveluate options based on logic, fact & present solutions

    • Leaving that place is not the way of solving problems. I still believe when you leave that place you will still get another job which may be having more challenging people than the one you have left. Those people are only meant to let you grow and mature in the way of handling human resource.
      Be patient with them and always avoid talks that causes quarrel, better be quiet when things are going out off hands.

      Thank you.

    • Acan. The catch phrase in your statement above is that you “strictly mind your business”. I advise you to continue doing that and focusing on your job. Stick to issues that matter – seeing that the job is done. When they tease you or abuse you about your village, simply smile back. Do not reply. Just say thank you. Stick to your job and with time they will give up.

  2. to me i think everyone knowing his/her roles en’ responsibilities on a job, is so much better. otherwize there is no difficult boss if u can as wel understand wht is needed of you!!!

    • We agree as well. However, we cannot deny that there are situations like these and it is to our benefit we all know how to rightly handle them.

  3. Difficult bosses are a menace!! I have one, she thinks she is God on Earth. Above all, she always picks the excellent work I have done presents to her bosses as her original work to get credit and then creates a picture that I’m not performing. These kind of people can be very difficult to handle!!!

  4. Indeed mi boss was one she is totally difficult and unpreditable and i have been using the same methods to handle her

  5. All that is Above is very important especially the primary primary school motto, but we have also to bear in mind that a difficult person will always find a reason whatsoever to implicate you, no matter the cost. My thinking is that before even we go to the primary school Motto Lets Pray to God to silence any weapon that would come from such a boss and to guides us through doing the right thing at the right time, place and with the right people. Also we must know that it is not only the bosses that are hard sometimes even us and our fellow employees at the same level can be a problem to each other, so we need to check that.

  6. Thank you very much, I had started experiencing the same situation but I have learn t something good.

  7. Thank very much with the above guidelines about difficult boss, I really like it.
    it gonna help me in my daily work.

  8. Very true, those values and tips saved me from similar situation.
    Maybe besides the suggested is the OF PRAYERS

  9. Didas thank you for your input but,for my case i do my work well and i know my job description well but still when it comes sometimes to making reports my boss wants to interfere with what i should report,how i should organize my work even if shes wrong she wants me to do the wrong thing and if i refuse and do whats right she takes it very bad.she wants to dominate and win every argument whether work related or no? what can a person like me do?.

    • We advise that you be patient and calm in handling this. She is your boss so try to always follow her lead and give opinions when she asks. This will make it easier to communicate with her.

  10. This article reminds me of one of my bosses some years back, the best he could say when angered was; Don’t talk to me, Don’t look at me, Don’t call me and Don’t send me any mail. I could ignore all and still do what he did not want. My approach was tactful and in a remorseful way such as ‘much as we are not supposed to communicate to each other….. this is urgent and important’ This helped me break thruogh and managed his to tough words with a little neutral tone. Finally I became the star of calming his difficult moods. Difficult bosses truly exist!

  11. hv a problem with ma male boss, he z harassing me sexually, am 20yrs,hv just finished campus still waiting fr ma results. hv worked with him fr only 2 months, l feel like l don’t want to leave this small job cz l hv no option, wat can l do? Advise me. tanx

    • We would advise that you seek help from the HR officer. If things are not handled or the situation gets worse. Leave the job and try to find another one. It is much better putting your reputation and health at risk.

  12. don’t be like those bosses you complained about. Be the kind of boss you wished your difficult boss could be.This statement has touched me greatly.Some bosses don’t care at all ,they all only come in to blame others when they are also accused of messing up with certain things.For organizations and projects to thrive and attain their objectives every one ought to do right things at right place ,at right time and with right people.

  13. Counter Attacks And Fights With My Officer In Charge Recently Nearly Costed Me My Job For Sure.
    I Even Had To Write An Apology.
    I Think This Message Has Come In Time.

  14. I have a problem, I’m working in uganda police as a driver and I have longed to change and work in other organizations, I always send my applications but I don’t appear anywhere yet I have all required standards. so, how can I come out, how should i write my CV.

  15. What if u have two bosses n both on same level n each give a different instructions everyday. one is so difficult n the other is a bit simple.
    how can u handle such situation coz I once was in that tragity?

    • Communication is very key. Send them a joint email or ask for a meeting with both of them and ask them for a more clear direction. This should be handled in a professional and clear manner.

  16. Wooow, this is splendid!! I am in the same pool but glad
    that I have learnt how to deal with such spiteful bosses.
    Big ups to brighter Monday.

  17. I had a boss I was more educated than and he was aware about this difference and he always made life difficult for me and I did not know what was he source but later when i discovered that the differences in the levels of education was the cause, I chose to be humble and move to his levels, i stopped asking hard questions that needed a lot of logic and thinking …….then I was able to contain the situation. Otherwise this is a good article

  18. I think the problem here is,there is a lot of under mining and people who are found doing that are not ethical,no respect. Bosses assume there are always right which is 100% wrong. In God we are equal.

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