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How to Deal With a Horrible Boss


Remember that movie Horrible Bosses? When you actually have one, it seems a whole lot less funny than the movie. Having a boss who yells at you and makes you feel bad every day is hard to deal with. It can be hard to deal with a job where your boss is awful, but you can do it! Here’s how to deal with having a boss who is truly terrible.

1. If you’re nice, he or she may be nice back

It’s really difficult to be nice to someone when he or she is the reason you dread going to work, but it can pay off in making your job a little better. “My boss was actually the rudest woman I've ever met. I didn't quit, but instead reminded myself it was nothing personal and kept my patience with her by being overly nice,” says Sydney, a collegiette at Washington University in St. Louis who dealt with a bad boss. “That way, she couldn't help but be nice.”

Just by putting on a smile and having a positive attitude, you can make your job a bit more bearable and make your boss a little less terrible.

2. Have a one-on-one conversation with your boss

Sometimes your boss is unaware of his or her behavior, so it’s best to bring it up to him or her in a private meeting.

“Power can corrupt, and many people in positions of power don’t realize they are treating their employees badly until it is brought to their attention,” says Colleen, a human resources representative.

Ask your boss if you can have a meeting with him or her and bring up that you feel that you are being treated unfairly. Explain how you feel and that you hope he or she understands that you still want the job, but you would like to be treated a certain way. Be sure to word it gently and respectfully: “I love working here, but I don’t feel I’m being treated nicely. I would love to feel a little more comfortable in this environment.” Most likely, your boss will work towards treating you better.

3. Talk with your boss’s boss

If your talk with your boss doesn’t work out, there’s another option to hopefully changing his or her behavior—talk to your boss’s boss.

“It is a boss’s job to keep their employees happy so they do good work,” Colleen says. “If one employee is unhappy, there are probably several more. If you are having a problem, go to the overall manager and explain your problem. They want what is best for the company and will take action to correct the problem.”

Hopefully after your talk, your boss will act a little nicer, as it now weighs on his or her job!

4. Remember that it’s only temporary

If you’re an intern, a summer can feel like a lifetime when you have to deal with rude bosses. However, it’s only a few short months, and you can make it!

“I stuck it out by just telling myself that I have to do things I don't like in life and that it is just temporary,” says Gabrielle, a sophomore at Georgia State University.

While it may be hard to stick through with it, just remind yourself that you’ll only be at your internship for a little while, and then you can move onto bigger and better things!

5. Keep in mind that you’re there to make money

We all know the point of a job is to make money, and no rude boss is going to make the importance of paying rent go away. Sticking through with a horrible boss can be incredibly difficult, but if you focus on the fact you’ll be able to buy a cute dress at the end of the week with your paycheck, the weeks will go by a bit faster.

“I remember telling myself that the commission was awesome,” says Tiffany, a University of Alabama student, of her own horrible work experience. Just keep imagining all those cute tops you can buy before you quit!

6. Think of the experience

You might need this job on your resume so you can land a better job in the future. Sometimes to get a job you want, you have to deal with the terrible jobs for the experience.

“After a year at a small newspaper making photocopies with my mean boss, I was able to use that experience to get a job at a magazine. It’s the best job ever!” says Savannah, a senior at Syracuse University.

By focusing on the great job you could get after this job, your boss’s attitude won’t seem quite as bad.

7. Reach out to human resources

A strict boss is one thing, but an abusive one is another. If your boss is bullying you, harassing you or making you feel seriously uncomfortable, reach out to human resources at your company and file a complaint. No amount of experience or money is worth dealing with an abusive supervisor.

What if you want to quit?

You don’t deserve to be treated badly, and sometimes quitting may be the best move for you. Your manager bullying you, berating you, harassing you or making you perform tasks that make you uncomfortable are all adequate reasons for leaving. So, if quitting is the only option for you, here’s how to do it:

1. Put in your two weeks notice

Before you can be treated any worse, put in your two weeks; giving time for your employer to find a replacement for you shows that you’re mature and responsible.

2. End on a positive note

“No matter what happens, always try to end on a positive note, because you'll want that employer as a reference!” Tiffany says. Even if you won’t be working at that company anymore, ending on a positive noteis important if you want a reference in the future, which you definitely will!


Having a rude boss is never easy. After reading these tips, though, you should be able to make it through with your head held high! And if you need to quit, don’t be afraid to do it. Either way, have an awesome summer—don’t let anyone (not even a horrible boss) get you down.

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