Your monthly dose of insightful Project Management articles

Your monthly dose of Project Management articles.

OLD but GOLD | Advantages of working for a “Toxic boss” and coping with him/her

Author: Asad Naveed

Originaly published on (Jan 2021 Edition)

A large project usually has a diverse team consisting of people from different backgrounds, cultures, religions, countries, etc. While diversity has a number of advantages like creativity, innovation, etc, but it also increases possibilities of having a manager who is not easy to work for. Even in smaller teams, such a possibility does exist and most of the people have worked for such a “toxic person” at least once in the life.

So what is a toxic environment and a toxic boss? This term is typically used for a person who is not easy to work with and deals with his team in a despicable manner. As per “the ladders”, a toxic person has at least some of the following traits:

  1. Yelling and Swearing on office floor and behaving rudely
  2. As soon as he enters, stress level on the floor rises
  3. The reportees don’t feel like going to office in the morning
  4. When a reportee asks a question, the manager shouts back
  5. Incapable of admitting his own mistakes
  6. They keep a serious look and don’t accept friendly advances
  7. They have no respect for “work-life balance” and tend to sit in office long beyond the closing time
  8. Setting unrealistic expectations.

A 2017 survey ( revealed that the most common reason why employees leave the workplace is because they don’t like their boss. The survey also found that:

  • 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct at work 
  • 65% resort to quitting their jobs to end the bullying
  • 71% of employer reactions were found harmful (emotionally, physically) to recipients

Dealing with toxic bosses is a common workplace phenomenon, making its prevalence seemingly characteristic of a broken working culture.


A vast amount of research exists which highlights that people have left their bad bosses at least once in their lives.  While nobody wants to work for a toxic boss, here are a few advantages and quotes in case one is stuck in such a situation:

  1. It teaches you self-endurance
  2. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. Thich Nhat Hanh
  3. Hardship is a blessing when it spurs effort and development; ease is a curse when it increases complacency and self-indulgence. Muso Kokushi
  4. Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. C.S. Lewis
  5. Never waste a good opportunity to learn from a bad boss. Anonymous.
  6. After you finally stop being bullied at work, you will grow strong enough to be able to look back to see how far you have come in your healing. Anonymous.
  7. You get a taste of business politics and can do better in the next job
  8. It teaches you how not to behave with your team
  9. It teaches self-control, patience and tolerance.


I don’t mean to say that if you are stuck with a toxic boss, you should stay there.

Having a bad boss is not your fault. Staying with one is. Nora Denzel

However, leaving your current position without having a better one in your hand, is not a judicious move. So until you find the job you love, “love your job”. I know it is not easy, but it is better than staying at home as jobless and searching for opportunities.

“Workplace bullies don't bully simply because they don't know what they're doing, or worse—just 'doing their job'. What needs to be understood, is that bullying is behaviour. and behaviour. is choice. It's no different to the molester who chooses to molest, the abuser who chooses to abuse, or the rapist who chooses to rape. Bullies 'bully'—because they choose to bully”. Anonymous.


Coping with a bad boss:

  1. Keep your mental healt: A toxic boss is a bully, and at worst, an abuser. Learn how to protect yourself.
  2. Keep copies of emails and important documents: Document everything. If your boss promises you a few days leave, a promotion, a short break, or anything else, get it on record.
  3. Enjoy in your free time: When work is a place of stress and anxiety, your non-work time needs to help balance it out before you go insane. Learn to relax as soon as you get off work.
  4. Accept their behavior: One of the easiest traps you can fall for when working under a toxic boss is believing that it might change. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can plan strategies to move forward under the acknowledgement that you have a bad boss.
  5. But don’t blame them: Toxic bosses are just toxic people, and toxic people want one thing: they want their anger and their frustration to be real. Deep down, none of us are bad people, even those who actively act as negative influences in the lives of those around them. 




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