How to deal with a passive aggressive boss

If you have ever felt like you’re constantly being shut out at your workplace because of your boss’s indifferent behavior towards you, then you have a passive-aggressive boss for sure. The entire feeling of being ignored and cold-shouldered is extremely nerve-wracking from your immediate superior also commonly known as the Terrible Office Tyrant or TOT. Managing such a boss who displays childish behavior is a skill that must be learned in your career. Here are some tips that will help you deal with a passive aggressive boss.

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes to see things the way he does

In order to understand how your boss thinks and works, it would be best if you could put yourself in his position and rethink the entire situation. Try thinking why he is alienating you or running away from you from his perspective. Try to think of various issues – personal or professional – that might be influencing the way he is behaving with you. Your boss might be overloaded with work commitments and priorities which have led him to isolate himself. Try to think of a ‘misbehaving’ boss as a spoiled child who is in grown-up clothes in a grown-up setting. You would have to make do with your helplessness as you’re not in a position to hit back or give him ‘time out’ either. Try to think of how to tackle an immature grown-up in an extremely mature way so that you can modify his behavior successfully. You would need to remain very calm and positive in order to look past such a boss’s childish acts and tantrums.

Level with your boss

If your boss is ignoring you to the extent that it has started affecting your mental well-being and your work, then try meeting up with your boss to discuss about it. The best and direct way to bring an end to certain things, would be to level up with your boss and express what all is causing you stress and frustration. Do not be extremely forthright and emotional when asking him about his cold-shouldering behavior, as he might simply be under a lot of pressure. If you boss expresses his dissatisfaction of your work performance, then do ask him to point out the faults honestly so that you can work hard on them. A casual and one-on-one conversation with your boss, will most certainly help in sorting out the problems.

Present your ideas differently

Never give up trying to change your boss, or TOT’s attitude towards you. Keep trying to grab his attention by doing all the work assigned to you with perfection and not giving him a reason to complain. If brevity in communication is what perks up your boss then try to send him shorter, well-structured and concise e-mails instead of long, winding ones. Try giving your presentations and meetings a different approach by making them interactive, visually interesting and engaging. Rather than belting out figures and statistics in a monotonous presentation, do something different and interesting to catch your boss’s attention. If you try to make your work do the talking, then may be your boss will hold no grudges against you at all!


Do not bully the bully

A poor way to address a boss displaying a passive aggressive behavior would be to retaliate in a similar fashion. Self defense is important and it is absolutely incorrect to continue suffering in a work environment where your boss treats you like the plague. However, an aggressive approach to indifferent behavior from your boss would most likely worsen the situation than ameliorate it. It would be like fire working against fire, which would just lead to a heightening in aggression from either ends. It is important for you to stay calm and try to figure out whether the attitude of your boss is justified or not. If not, then he/she might be suffering from some psychological condition, or perhaps they might be simply over-stressed with the work load. Try to remain positive and continue to work in a calm frame of mind. If your boss is just temporarily stressed out, then things will definitely brighten up for you!



Schedule regular meetings with your boss

Try to remain in constant touch with your boss and do this by scheduling meetings with him frequently. Try to be positive in your communication with him and while discussing projects, do glorify his/her contribution to their success to help them feel better. Make sure that you do not drag the meetings for a longer period by keeping them short and crisp. Shorter meetings will help you to give all the relevant details to your boss on time. This way, you won’t be chasing your boss throughout the week, which might just annoy him when he’s preoccupied with serious work. Make a list of all the important points to discuss before going in for the short meeting with your boss. Your preparation in advance would definitely create a good impression. Frequent meetings and open communications help to forge a bond of trust between you and your boss. Eventually the outcome would most definitely change his approach to you and your work.

Dr Prem Jagyasi and Team

Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.

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