Bad Bosses

7 Ways to Outshine a Tyrannical Boss

Sure, you could look for another job but how much sweeter would it be to work you way up until you can fire that miserable person?
7 Ways to Outshine a Tyrannical Boss
Image credit: Warner Bros.
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Psychologist, Author, Speaker
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There is little worse than working under a self-righteous boss who refuses to help make us or anyone else more successful. These types of bosses make life miserable, sometimes so miserable that we forget that we're even passionate about what we do.

Bosses should act and perform like leaders. When our boss is inconsistent, unprofessional, placing us in no-win situations, who backstabs, sarcastically puts us and others down, and who put obstacles in our way to make our success nearly impossible, we must do all we can to outshine this person, and give them as little of our time, power and attention as possible.

Related: 4 Signs of a Terrible, Toxic Boss

1. Strategize

We become frustrated with difficult bosses because they consistently display unprofessional behavior. However, the one thing we can count on is the consistency of who they are and how they treat us.

Whatever behaviors are consistent in our boss allows us to create solid strategies to fend against them. We must put a plan of action and expectation in place by anticipating what is coming. Being proactive gives us the edge. If our boss is in a "good mood" toward us, we should mirror that mood back. When our boss is acting tyrannical toward us, we must force ourselves to act as if we're hearing them out, when really we'll be turning our ears off. This helps us take their ranting with a grain of salt.

The more of a quiet confidence we can demonstrate, the more the spotlight lands on our boss in a negative light. Most importantly, we must display confidence and an unshakable demeanor toward him/her regardless of what we're feeling inside.

Related: 9 Ways to Show More Confidence in Business

2. Be prepared.

Wherever we are well-prepared, we are more likely to come out on top. Before engaging with our boss, we must take some time to formulate our responses, behaviors and reactions. It is helpful to write our actions or responses down, or to envision and practice conversations in our mind before delivering them to our boss. Rehearsing helps us to have the guts to confront our boss by saying, "when I am treated in this way, it makes it difficult for me to feel motivated, in fact it does just the opposite."

It is also appropriate to say "This type of treatment is not effective." The other thing that is powerful is to "okay" them but to continue behaving just as we are and doing what we know works for us. The best way to prepare is to predict our boss's comeback and our desired response. Its also important to prepare for threats and a possible fall-out by entertaining recruiters and/or seeking other employment opportunities.

Related: 4 Ways to Love the Job You Hate

4. Remain composed.

As hard as it is to keep our composure, this is critically important. Remain professional. As hard as our boss may sarcastically provoke, ignore, humiliate or cut us down, we must train ourselves to always take the high road. If necessary, follow the proper procedures with HR and file the necessary complaints.

Whenever possible, talk to executives with higher-level superiority and maintain a calm and professional demeaner when doing so. Be straightforward, assertive and patient. When others talk about our boss, as much as we want to trash them, stay out of the gossip. We must be mindful to vent our frustrations to anyone other than other abused coworkers who may throw us and what us said under the bus as a way to avoid having the spotlight on them.

Related: 11 Rebellious and Fun Songs For When You Hate Your Job

5. Remain consistent.

Because our boss is inconsistent, our dogged consistency will win in the end. It isn't likely the situation with our difficult boss will change overnight, so if we want to stay with our organization, we must be ready for the long haul.

We must commit to being rock solid in our work effort, and in communicating with our boss about what we will and won't tolerate in terms of how we're treated. If we show we can do this, it is likely our coworkers will have more courage to follow suit. Moreover, we must be persistent in calling out our boss's bad behavior, and putting a plan into action. The key is to not let our boss get away with continuing his/her bad behavior.

Related: 4 Ways to Handle a Boss Who Steals Credit for Your Ideas

5. Grit

Regardless of our boss, we need to have the grit to continue doing our very best work. We must show up on time, be mindful not to overstay on lunches, do exactly what we're asked without complaint or argument and demonstrate that our success is under our control, not that of our boss.

When our boss cannot complain about our work, our effort or our attitude we give our boss nothing to go on. Succeeding in spite of this person is key. We do this by having the grit to follow through regardless of obstacles placed in our way.

Related: Why 'Grit' May Be Everything for Success

6. Be visible.

There are many other higher-level executives in each organization we can seek to aim to impress outside of our boss. We must do all we can to make ourselves visible to these other people.

How do we do this? We make our results known, we begin conversations with them, offer to help them in any way we can, be great to customers so there is no evidence that we are performing below standard, and express interest in our own growth. We must make sure that our name is on everything we do, from every email, every invoice and that we are mentioned in every meeting. We must take initiative to introduce ourselves on conference calls by stating who we are, what our position is, along with showcasing our positive outcomes and results when asked.

Related: 5 Ways to Work Remotely Without Being Overlooked

7. Move up.

There are two ways to get out from under a horrible boss; change jobs or work hard to get promoted. To create a chance at promotion, we must keep our focus on our own personal plan, goals and objectives. We must do all we can not to take the bullying coming from our boss personally. We must not, at all cost, allow our work performance to suffer under these types of people. Over time if we can stick to this program, we have the best option to move up and beyond this person, maybe even into a position where we can fire him/her.

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