Being stuck in a toxic job sucks, and it can – like a bad relationship – knock your confidence and make you feel like you’re going to be there forever. “Work is a breeding ground for bad behaviour because any situation with more than one person involved has potential for conflict,” says careers coach Karen Kwong. “Add egos and pride, and that dynamic is amped up.” So how should you handle these stomach-churning, anxiety-inducing situations? We asked the experts.
How to handle a mean boss
The situation: You’re not going to get praise from your manager all the time – they are meant to guide you with constructive criticism, after all. But if you feel as though they have a personal axe to grind and you can’t seem to do anything right, this can be crushing.
What to do about it: Take a deep breath, as this won’t go away on its own. But how you handle it depends on the situation. “There’s no hard and fast rule,” says Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR. “If an incident is at the lower end of that scale, some people may want to raise it directly. If you feel you’re being bullied, you may want to make it more formal.”
Dealing with it by yourself? Try to be as non-confrontational as possible. Say something like, “I want to have a good working relationship with you and I’ve got the sense that you might not be happy with my work. Can you let me know where I’m going wrong?” Then, together, put a plan in place as to how you can improve. If you think it borders on bullying, you could ask an HR representative or another manager to have a quiet word. HR raising the issue could be enough. While you may never be best friends, it’s your boss’s duty to stay professional. Take comfort in the fact that your HR department or another manager will be trained in dealing with this kind of situation.