What to Do if Your Boss Has Bad Manners

boss demeaning employee
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Have you ever had a boss who embarrasses you and makes you want to crawl under your desk? The supervisor who does this can make life miserable for everyone in the department.

Most companies have high etiquette expectations when they consider promotions, but some people slip through the cracks and move up in spite of their behavior. You may have become the victim of this oversight.

Just remember that you don't have to follow in your supervisor's footsteps. You're more likely to be recognized for your accomplishments and considered for promotions if you have good manners.


Remember that good manners and proper etiquette have to be taught. When your boss hollers an obscenity, chews with her mouth open during a business lunch, or becomes a chatterbox and spills company secrets during a one-on-one meeting with you, you're probably looking at someone who wasn't corrected at a very early age.

You might wonder how this person reached her position with the company. After all, most top-level managers are studied and scrutinized before they earn their titles. However, some people slip through unnoticed until after they're promoted, and that's probably the case with your boss.

Put yourself in her position when she makes an etiquette faux pas. She doesn't need a public reprimand that will embarrass her, or she might turn things around on you and humiliate you even more.

If you choose to correct her with others around, you'll likely be met with some scathing words that will make you want to hide, or worse, a chilly response. Instead, be gentle and show her how you can accomplish a task with grace while being mannerly.

Stand Firm

A boss's bad manners can turn a professional workplace into an arena of awkwardness and misery. In a perfect world, a boss sets an example for the workers. However, that doesn't always happen, so you may have to rise to the occasion and be the one for others to watch. Never feel like you have to stoop to a lower level and act like a clod just because your boss is a boor.

Ways to show your boss good manners:

  • When she speaks, you need to listen. If she interrupts you during your presentation, stop, let her say what's on her mind, thank her for her thoughts, and then return to your topic. Although this may seem like encouragement for her bad behavior, it's more of a way to deal with something you can't do anything about. Some bosses like to say what's on their minds, even if it's not their turn to speak. Try to find an opportunity later to gently tell her that you'd like to finish your presentation and then open the floor to questions and answers.
  • If your boss is one who enjoys having too much to drink at the office party, offer to drive her home. She may not realize how she is coming across, so perhaps this will open her eyes to the fact that others know she's had too much to drink. This may or may not change her behavior, but at least you can save her life.
  • Some bosses lie and expect you to back them up. If you have one of those supervisors, let him know that you've made it a policy to always be truthful because you'll never have to remember what you lied about. Document the conversation in case your boss decides to punish you for not backing up his deceit.
  • Avoid gossiping about your coworkers. Your boss may call you into his office to discuss someone else. This is inappropriate for him to do, and it would be just as bad for you to chime in. Unless you are having a problem with that coworker, let your boss know that your main focus is your own job, and you trust that others are doing the same.
  • If your boss tries to engage you in a romantic situation, let him know that you never mix business with pleasure. He should take the hint, but if he doesn't, you may have to discuss this with someone in human resources. This reaches beyond bad manners and puts you in a terrible position with your career.
  • Some bosses have a very low threshold for bad news or imperfection, so if you have one who throws a temper tantrum every time things don't go the way he thinks they should, take a step back and get out of the way. There's probably nothing you can do to stop him unless he resorts to bullying. If you ever feel threatened, go straight to human resources and let them know your concerns.

Protect Your Career

Whether you plan to stay with your company until retirement or you're hoping to advance with another firm, you have to protect the career you've taken the time to build. Maintaining your personal and professional dignity may be difficult at times when you have a difficult boss, but it's something you need to do.