For most of us, work presents enough challenges and obstacles without having a disrespectful boss breathing down our necks.
It doesn’t matter why your boss is being rude or hostile towards you, nothing excuses this behavior – especially if it’s in front of your coworkers.
How you handle the situation is going to have a huge impact on the outcome, and whether or not it happens again.
To help you be better prepared next time you find yourself in a situation, here is what to do when your boss disrespects you at work:
What to Do When Your Boss Disrespects You – 10 Tips to Diffuse and Overcome!
1. Don’t Rise to It
When your boss says or does something to disrespect you, especially if it’s in front of other people and embarrasses you, it’s natural to feel angry.
But the worst thing you can do is rise to the incident and lash out back as it’s only going to escalate the issue.
You need to maintain a sense of calm, so you can have a more constructive conversation about the issue with your boss later.
Plus, it’s hard to ‘win’ an argument with your boss as they’re in charge, even if their behavior is out of line.
Related – Signs to look for if your boss has changed their attitude towards you.
2. Never Take It Personally
In most cases, when your boss is being disrespectful towards you it has nothing to do with you as a person, and everything to do with their own insecurities, stress levels, or problems.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule but in general, try not to take it personally otherwise it will only make you feel worse about yourself.
You need to explore what’s triggering them so you can get a better understanding of their actions before blaming yourself.
3. You Can Still Stand up For Yourself
It’s important that you stand up for yourself, but you have to do it in the right way so as to not escalate the issue.
If you don’t say something you risk showing your boss that you’re weak, or that you’re guilty of whatever they’re accusing you of.
You need to be assertive, but not aggressive.
The key is to stay calm and use ‘I’ statements rather than ‘you’ statements.
For example, instead of saying “You’re wrong,” try “I disagree.”
This way you’re not putting them on the defensive and you’re giving them a message that you’re not going to be walked all over.
4. Arrange to Speak with Them 1-On-1
You should never speak about an issue like being disrespected in front of your coworkers, even if your boss disrespected you in front of them.
This will only make the situation worse and further damage your relationship with your boss.
Instead, you should arrange to speak with them in private so you can discuss the issue without being interrupted.
This way you can both have a calm and constructive conversation about what happened.
Plus, I think you’ll find their attitude – and yours – will have changed a lot once some time has passed.
5. Practice Self-Care Outside of Work
The last thing you want to do is take work stresses and negative situations home with you.
This is often easier said than done as we spend a lot of time at work and are emotionally invested in what we do.
However, if you find yourself being wound up or stressed at home about incidents that happened at work, you should practice some self-care techniques.
This could be anything from going for a run to taking a relaxing bath or even just meditating for 10 minutes a day.
Anything that helps you relax and take your mind off work is going to be good for your mental health.
6. Don’t Hold a Grudge
If you’ve been disrespected by your boss it’s natural to want to hold a grudge against them.
But this is only going to make the situation worse as holding a grudge means you’re holding on to negative emotions.
This subjects your body to stress and can have a number of negative health effects both physically and mentally.
I’m saying you should forgive them right away, but the sooner you can put it behind you the better.
That’s what a lot of the steps in this list are also designed to help you do.
7. Ask Trusted Coworkers What They Think of The Situation
If you’re not sure how to handle the situation, or if you want another opinion on what’s going on, you can always ask your coworkers what they think.
However, you should be careful about who you speak to as some people will just gossip and make the situation worse.
It does help to get another opinion on the situation though, just in case you’re blowing it out of proportion or misinterpreting the interaction.
8. Make a Note of What Happened
When you’re disrespected by your boss you should always make a note of what happened, when it happened, and any other relevant details.
This is important for two reasons.
Firstly, it will help you to track any patterns that emerge and possibly identify things that are setting them off.
Secondly, if the situation escalates to their manager or HR you will have evidence to back up your claims.
9. Escalate the Issue to HR if It’s Affecting You
If you’ve tried to resolve the issue with your boss and it’s still not working, or if their behavior is starting to affect your work, then it might be time to escalate the issue to HR.
This is usually a last resort as it can damage your relationship with your boss even further.
But if their behavior is having a negative impact on your work or mental health then you don’t really have a choice.
Related – Signs to look for that your boss would promote you and how to ask for that promotion!
10. Consider Looking for A New Job if Your Boss Will Not Change
If your boss’s behavior is really impacting your work or mental health and nothing else has worked, then you might need to consider looking for a new job.
I know this isn’t an ideal solution, but sometimes it’s the only one.
On the downside, you may have to leave a job you otherwise enjoyed and you’ll miss your colleagues.
But on a plus side, you (should) end up working somewhere with a more productive environment where you’re not disrespected.
I’m sure like most people you dedicate a lot of your time and emotional energy to your work, at the very least you deserve to be happy.
I hope this list of tips explaining what to do when your boss disrespects you will help you deal with a toxic boss and find happiness!
Image credits – Photo by Adnan Elezovic on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.