Toxic boss pointing

Tips on Dealing with a Toxic Boss

Giving feedback to your boss can be difficult. Unfortunately, it’s always been that way and likely always will. 

Still, I was surprised by the response to a recent Fast Company article on the topic. It was clear from the reaction that many people have difficult bosses who are not interested in criticism (constructive or not). 

In reading through the article’s comments, there are two main elements most employees focus on with feedback.

The first is the day-to-day job interactions between an employee and their manager – their bosses’ annoying behaviors and personality traits that drive them crazy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a survey from found that 76% of American workers believe their boss is toxic.  

This is the element I will focus on – that feedback is much harder to give because it can be personal. 

While I think that number is exaggerated, it reflects how bad bosses can create a poor working environment. To name a few, some of those bosses include the Bully, the Micromanager, the Workaholic, the By the Numbers Boss, and the Divisive Boss.

Are you an Accidental Diminisher?

Liz Wiseman’s book Multipliers talks about the Accidental Diminisher – the boss who means well but does not positively impact the team. This leader thinks they are doing what’s best for their crew, regularly stepping in to solve problems for employees. But this limits and ultimately hurts the team. Liz says: 

“The Accidental Diminisher is the well-intended leader, often following popular management practices, who subtly and, completely unaware, shuts down the intelligence of others.”


Seven Tips

If you find yourself navigating any of these toxic manager relationships, here are some tips that can help:

  • Regardless of your circumstances, perform at a high level. What you do is noted by everybody, not just your boss – and the people watching your mediocre performance might be future employers or even business partners. 
  • Work on your social intelligence skills. Social Intelligence training helps individuals and organizations communicate more effectively. Several areas fall under this umbrella, but I want to focus on social styles & emotional intelligence:
  • Check out the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, a former hostage negotiator. There are many techniques in that book that work. But, most importantly, remember that you do not need to win every engagement, just more than everyone else.  
  • Social styles – I have found that identifying the best way to communicate with someone reduces conflict and increases productivity.
  • Emotional intelligence, or “the ability to perceive, manage, and regulate emotions,” is helpful in many ways. For instance, emotionally intelligent people are better at thinking before reacting and empathizing with others. 
  • Have an exit strategyNo one wants to work in an organization where they are mistreated. 
  • In any current role, continue to work on your network. Tools like LinkedIn can be valuable on this front: always keep your profile updated, whether you’re just starting a new job or starting to explore new opportunities.

You still have control

And don’t forget – even during the ongoing pandemic, you can schedule 15-minute virtual coffee meetings. Whether with people you know or new connections, it’s crucial to continue building your relationships. If you don’t currently belong to a networking group, now is the time to join!

Hopefully, you never have to deal with a toxic boss. However, if you do, the tactics above can help turn a terrible situation into a tolerable one. Do you need help in dealing with a Toxic Boss? Do you have leaders that are accidental diminishers? Call Core Management Training, we can help. Contact us at or call at 484.272.5138.