How to Deal With a Toxic Boss (Part 2)

They’re the reason you dread Monday mornings and are the face on your imaginary voodoo doll. It’s unlikely you will be able to change them, but thanks to The Public Speaker, you can definitely improve your work life. Here's the second installment of how to handle a difficult boss.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #148

He was big and loud. He was never satisfied with anyone’s work and criticized anyone and everyone in front of peers, in front of senior management, and even in front of prospects. I left my job because of him. But most of us don’t have that option, especially in today’s economy.  .

Today I’ll pick up where I left off last week, with part 2 of how to deal with a toxic boss. Last week, my suggestion was to resist the urge to fight back and instead respond with professionalism. This week we’ll cover 3 more ways to manage the monster.

Engineer Your Environment

Whether in the elevator or in a meeting, face time with Mr. or Mrs. Toxic can be daunting, if not ulcer-inducing. How can you be prepared?

The trick is to disarm the aggressiveness and stay positive. While a Pollyanna attitude may be annoying in other situations, it is an excellent antidote for the toxic boss. By responding with an excessively positive attitude, you will either disarm the toxicity over time, or maybe even knock him or her off-balance.

Update Mr. or Mrs. T with regular short emails, text messages, and regular status reports. This way, he or she won’t feel the need to ask you what is going on. Be as organized as possible so that meeting times are short. Be sure to plan and document all conversations. 

Often the best way to confront someone is to use his or her own words. For example, “Last week in our meeting you stated XYZ. Now you are suggesting ABC. Which is correct?” Follow up with an email. “As per our discussion today, we are implementing ABC, instead of XYZ. Please confirm.”

Be careful not to challenge the toxic boss in public. Also, don’t bad-mouth to your co-workers or at industry meeting. It will come back to bite you.


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.