3 Ways to Protect Your Energy When Dealing With a Bad Boss

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 25, 2024 at 7:48AM UTC

Most of us will encounter a bad boss at some point in our career. It can wear on us and even affect our day-to-day and personal lives. We may feel drained and fatigued, upset and dejected.

You probably know the traditional steps to take — perhaps speak with HR, even take strides to find a new job — but how do you cope in the present? Here are three things you can do to protect your energy and your mental health when you’re dealing with a difficult boss.

1. Commiserate.

Having a confidante to talk to when you’re coping with a difficult manager can help you get through a less than optimal situation. A colleague who knows firsthand what you’re dealing with gives you a chance to commiserate — but be cautious when over-airing grievances (in other words, don’t cross the line from professional to catty). 

If you don’t have a colleague you trust, who can offer you a sounding board, then turn to a friend outside of work.

2. Plan after-work activities.

When work is feeling unbearable, give yourself something to look forward to AFTER work. That will take the edge off of a difficult day. Plan ahead, so you always have activities to turn to during the roughest workdays.

It could be as low-key as happy hours with some colleagues or friends — or even reading a great book. Or, have dinner with someone close to you. Take your dog to the park. Sit in a relaxing bubble bath — whatever helps you unwind and get some distance from a draining work situation. Consider volunteering, too. When you’re helping other people, you’ll feel better about yourself, and it will allow you to take your mind off of your problems.

3. Temper your expectations.

Easier said than done, I know. But if you’ve been working with your boss for a long time and have seen no change (perhaps you’ve even attempted to address it with them), you need to stop expecting them to in the future.

Try to protect yourself. Leave your ego out of it. Sure, it’s not ideal, but if you want or feel like you need to stay with your employer, then you need to understand that they’re not going to change. Recognize that this is not about you. Think of it as wearing a form of armor at work — armor that will help you deal with this toxic individual and their demands.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for protecting your energy when dealing with a bad boss? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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