How to Effectively Handle a Mean Boss

How to Effectively Handle a Mean Boss



You’re not always going to get a nice boss.

Just because your friends have one does not mean that you will.


That’s what stings the most.

When you see others enjoying their workspace and you are terrified.


Your boss lacks social intelligence, emotional intelligence, and is an overall mean guy.

Plus, he’s bringing his personal problems to work with him.


The problem?

He’s high up there in status.


For you to get your promotion, you need to get through him.

How should you deal with a mean boss?


Some Fields Attract Mean People


The first thing to understand is that some fields are going to have very mean guys.

It’s hard to get around that.


2 places that typically attract mean managers are startup companies and fast-food franchises.

With startup companies, everyone is on edge.


Since people are so close, they are used to raising their voices and demeaning each other’s ideas.

After fighting, they can still get a beer together.

That’s just what happens when you are a small company that is struggling to survive.


Fast food franchises are similar.

When I used to work in Dunkin Donuts, 7-11, and Subway, I noticed something…

All these places had mean Desi managers.


They were mean-mean.

They would rarely give breaks, would always yell “faster!!!”, and critique you in front of the customers.




It’s because they were in a fast-paced environment.

Nothing brings out your dark sides like a rush hour in a fast-food restaurant.


Some fields naturally attract mean people.

These managers don’t believe in active listening, working with their employees, and emotional understanding.


Their philosophy is:

‘Obey my commands, or you’re fired.’


How to Deal with a Mean Manager in the Corporate Space


Within the corporate space, you will have more leeway to change your manager’s behavior towards you.


What kind of worker are you?

Incompetent or competent?

Be honest.


If you’re an incompetent worker, then the manager is rightfully upset with you.

Your lack of drive is making it harder on the team and him.


In this situation, the fix is to do a better job!

The more you do a great job in your role, and make your manager aware of your performance, the more their behavior toward you will change.

Soon, they will treat you nicer.


‘What If I’m not incompetent, Armani? I’m a competent guy who is dealing with a mean manager.’

Then you need to pull them aside and talk to them.


Don’t spaz out on them in public.


Just book a 1-on-1 meeting and say:

‘Thus far, I’ve been doing everything that has been expected. However, your communication style towards me is too brash and abrasive. It’s creating an awkward work dynamic. Could you please soften up your approach so it’s easier to handle my deliverables?’


If that doesn’t work, threaten them.

‘I’ll have to CC your manager the next time this happens.’


Why threaten your manager?

Because this guy has a boss too!


How do you think managers are weighed for their performance?

  • A large part of their job performance is measured on if they are creating a constructive team or a destructive team.


If their behavior is salty towards you, that’s leading to destructive behavior.

I see nothing wrong with snitching in this scenario.

If he can’t respect you, don’t respect him either.


Its best that it doesn’t come to that though.

Hopefully, they are able to fix their behaviors after your initial 1-on-1.


Are They Just Busting Your Balls?


Some managers aren’t really mean.

They are just giving you a hard time in a playful sort of way.


I had a manager like this a few years ago.

He was this army guy from Brazil.

Super annoying guy, monotoned, and would criticize in public.


One day, we had a group outing, and he was in a good mood.

He said:

‘Who has been to a strip club before?’


Before giving anyone time to respond, he said:

‘Armani, if I were you, I would be going to a lot of strip clubs at your age. The strippers will love you.’


He was joking around like that.

I thought:

‘What the heck? This guy seems like a different person during work vs when he’s off.’


After, we talked some more and he said he saw a bright future for me.

He was testing me at work so he could see me shine.

Whenever he was talking to Ed, our senior manager, he was hyping me up a lot.


Overall, the mean treatment he was giving was just a form of busting my balls.

Joking around to see my strengths.


Navigating The Seasons


The work atmosphere changes.

One moment, you have the perfect setup.

The next moment, your setup gets a shakeup from upper management.


I believe it’s good to have at least 1 mean manager in your career.

It builds a lot of character.


People hated to work for Steve Jobs when they were working for him.

But after they stopped working for him, they were happy with their time working for him.

They though Steve bought out their untapped potential for future jobs.


A lot of times, you will hate working for a mean manager as it’s happening.

But once you leave, you will feel more battle-tested and capable of handling challenges.


I’m sorry to hear that you have a tough manager right now.

It’s going to be bumpy.

It’s tough waking up knowing that you are going to be a few feet away from this mean guy.


Just know that your story isn’t over.

This is just one of many chapters in your career.



  • Some fields naturally attract mean people because everyone is on edge.
  • Other times, the manager is mean because you are incompetent in your role.
  • If you’re competent, and the manager is being mean, either talk to them 1-on-1 or snitch on them to their manager.
  • And other times, the manager is not mean at all, they are just joking to test your grit.


For more insights into office politics, check out the ArmaniTalks Free Daily Newsletter


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