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Toxic Boss: Signs, How To Deal & Prevention

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Having a toxic boss can make the work environment unbearable.

However, there’s always a way to deal with him without affecting your career or current job.

There’s a fine line between strict and toxic bosses, and knowing who you’re dealing with is critical for a better work experience.

If you’re having problems with your boss but are not sure whether he’s toxic or not, don’t worry.

In this article, we’ll help you know if your boss is toxic, and we’ll provide you with some tips on how to deal with him.

What Is a Toxic Boss?

There’s no one description of a toxic boss.

In short, a toxic boss is someone destructive and harmful to their employees.

He creates a toxic relationship with his employees by using his power to abuse, manipulate or constantly criticize his employees no matter how hard they work.

Your boss can also be toxic if he takes credit for other people’s work.

He constantly turns down any ideas from his employees, which cripples their creativity.

Lastly, he never recognizes the hard work and accomplishments of his employees, instead, he demands more.

How a Toxic Boss Can Impact You

If you’re unfortunate enough to have a toxic boss, you may feel like walking on eggshells around them.

Besides, you’re probably getting anxiety before work every day.

  • Affect Your Work Motivation: The toxic work environment can make you feel stressed and anxious which negatively affects your life outside of work. For instance, if your toxic supervisor is always demeaning you and your work, you’ll be unmotivated and exhausted, which sabotages your work performance.
  • Make You Uncomfortable: Dealing with a toxic boss is hard, it’s not only your career that’s on the line—your mental and physical health is also at stake.
  • Affect the Quality of Your Work: Undermotivated employees usually don’t care about delivering high-quality work. Working under a toxic manager, they know they don’t get the appreciation they deserve.

How Do You Know Your Boss Is Toxic?

Now that we covered the basics of what a toxic boss is and how he impacts his employees, how can you tell if you have one?

It can be tricky since most want to believe the best about their bosses.

But there are some key signs to watch out for.

  • They Bad-mouth Employees: Toxic bosses usually bad-mouth other employees in front of you, if that’s the case, be 100% sure they also negatively talk about you behind your back.
  • They Only Praise Themself: Bad bosses are obsessed with praising themselves, even for others’ good work. That’s why most employees develop resentment toward a boss.
  • They Ignore You: They ignore your ideas and suggestions. Furthermore, they may alter your ideas and use them without telling you, and if they fail, they blame it on you.
  • They Don’t Give Feedback: They don’t give feedback to employees about their performance. Feedback is critical for a healthy work environment, ignoring constructive feedback discourages employees and as a result, the team morale suffers.
  • They Show Favoritism: Bad bosses always show favoritism to a specific employee or group. Favoritism involves undeserved promotions for certain employees and giving them extra privileges.
  • They Put You on the Edge: Your toxic manager will always put you on the edge. Whether by overloading you with extra tasks or constantly gaslighting you and undermining your effort.
  • They Set Unrealistic Expectations: Toxic managers always make unreasonable demands and have unrealistic expectations, no matter how hard you work, they always demand more.
  • They’re Overly Critical: Meaning they always exaggerate minor mistakes and never praise your achievements and efforts.
  • They Abuse Their Authority: Bad bosses constantly abuse their authority and threaten to fire or replace employees even for the slightest mistakes.
  • They Make Decisions Reactively: Toxic managers are usually incompetent too. They might take strict actions based on minor slips or mistakes.

Is It Worth It Working for a Toxic Boss?

Now you know how to identify a toxic boss, it’s time to decide if it’s worth working for him.

There are some pros and cons of working for a toxic boss.

Despite all the unpleasant actions of toxic bosses, dealing with them can help you develop your career.

If that’s not enough, it can also help you become a better person overall.

Pros of Working With a Toxic Boss

First, you’ll make an excellent boss in the future.


When you look at all the negative actions and decisions of your ex-toxic manager, you’ll avoid poor leadership when you become a manager or a team leader.

You’ll know what pisses off your employees and what gets the best out of them.

That way, you’re not only acting as a manager but a mentor and a role model.

You also become more self-dependent, as you don’t bear the pain of asking your toxic manager for help, you always try and figure out how to do things by yourself.

Why is that important?

Because you learn more skills and become more creative which improves your work experience.

Finally, working in a toxic environment teaches you how to deal with unpleasant people.

Unfortunately, you’ll meet toxic co-workers in almost every job you get.

That’s why you need the experience of dealing with them so you can adapt to similar situations in the future.

If you learn how to cope with an unpleasant co-worker or manager, your life will be much easier.

In addition, you won’t let the toxic work environment negatively affect your personal life.

Cons of Working With a Toxic Boss

Let’s face it, hating your job isn’t normal, and dealing with a toxic manager is one of the most common reasons people quit their jobs, a toxic work environment has many negative consequences.

In this Harvard Business review, it was found that toxic workplaces have about 60% more errors in their work and 18% lower productivity.

Honestly, this is bad for everyone, you, your boss, and the whole company.

On top of that, dealing with toxic bosses can also affect your health and well-being.

Conclusion: Should You Work for a Toxic Boss?

To cut a long story short, it might seem obvious that it’s not worth working with a terrible boss.

However, some might not have the opportunity to easily change their job or become underemployed.

You might consider talking to a trusted friend or mentor for honest career advice.

We think it would be best to try and get the max out of your current job before moving on.

To do that, you need to understand how to deal with a toxic manager.

How to Deal With a Toxic Boss

Sometimes you can’t change people, a toxic manager will stay the same no matter what.

This is why you need to decide whether you’re quitting your job or staying and trying to deal with him.

1. Quit

Quitting is a valid option, especially if the toxic workplace culture is affecting your mental health or relationships outside work.

2. Deliver Results

A toxic manager only cares about results. If you deliver high-quality results, you’ll avoid all his negative comments.

3. Seek Clarity and Clear Communication

If your boss crosses the line, don’t fear to speak up.

Communicate with your boss so that they’re aware of how you feel and can make changes accordingly.

4. Do Your Job and Let the Rest Go

Whether you decided to stay or leave the job, as long as you’re still working, try your best.

Don’t stress yourself waiting for appreciation or rewards, think about yourself and what you need to achieve in your current job to develop your career.

5. Try to Have a Conversation

If your manager is constantly overloading you with tasks or changing your work hours, it’s best to schedule a meeting with him and discuss your concerns.

6. Learn and Adapt

Don’t let your bad manager’s actions affect your performance. Instead, work harder and learn to cope with him.

You should always remember you don’t need him to succeed in your career, your work and accomplishments define who you’re and how hard you work.

7. Don’t Take It Personally

Your boss doesn’t have personal issues with you. He doesn’t hate or envy you, he’s acting toxic because that’s probably his personality.

Take everything he does with a grain of salt and improve your emotional intelligence.

8. Set Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries with your boss so that you’re not constantly feeling overwhelmed or taken advantage of.

If your boss is the type who is always asking for more work, be clear about what your limits are.

Not setting boundaries is one of the most common signs of a toxic workplace.

9. Document Everything

If your boss is constantly putting you down or making you feel uncomfortable, it’s essential to document everything.

This way, if you ever need to take further action, you have a record of what has happened.

How Do You Set Boundaries with a Toxic Boss?

One of the most important things you can do when you have a toxic leader is to set boundaries.

This means setting limits on what you will and won’t tolerate from them.

  • Interact Only When Necessary: Always keep it professional when at work, especially with your boss. Keep the interaction minimal and only talk to him when necessary to avoid any unexpected drama.
  • Manage Your Expectations: As we mentioned, you shouldn’t expect appreciation or rewards from a toxic boss. It’s always better to expect nothing so that you’re less anxious about your job.
  • Keep the Relationship Professional: One of the best ways to deal with a toxic boss is to stay professional and positive. It’s critical to do this not only with your boss but with your co-workers too. It creates a healthier workspace with little to no conflicts.

How to Get Rid of a Toxic Boss

In some scenarios, you might not have the chance to leave your job.

You decide to stay and cope with your toxic manager but he’s taking things too far, so what should you do?

  • Bring up Issues With HR: It’s crucial to be clear about your boundaries from the start. Otherwise, your toxic boss will continue to take advantage of you. If you think your boss crossed the line, it might be time to consider speaking to an HR representative.
  • Keep Detailed Records: It will also be helpful to keep a record of their toxic behavior like workplace bullying. This way, you can refer back to it if necessary and show it to the human resources department if things get to that point.
  • Leave: Life is too short to waste time with a toxic boss who makes your life miserable. If all else fails, maybe you should consider resigning and looking for a new job.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you outsmart a toxic boss?

Outsmarting your boss is an effective coping technique.

You can do this by communicating with your colleagues to turn their attention to your boss’s bad side.

If you can, speak to people in senior management and explain how negatively your toxic boss affects the company.

What is a gaslighting boss?

In short, a gaslighting boss is a manager who manipulates his employees to the point that they start questioning their sanity, memory, or perception.

You can identify a toxic manager if he’s constantly lying, making false promises, or making bad comments then denying them later.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is that a toxic boss can have a severe impact on your life and your work.

If you suspect you’re working for a toxic boss, it’s important to be aware of the signs and know how to protect yourself.

Once you’re sure your boss is toxic, take your time to decide whether you’re quitting or not.

If you decide to stay, remember to follow our tips for dealing with toxic managers, and if you have any questions, please leave us a comment.

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