11 Abusive Boss Signs And 6 Steps To Confront Such A Boss

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

No one could ever have a perfect boss. There might be good qualities in your boss, but that doesn’t make him 100% flawless.

Just like when you pick a mate, you decide what you’ll not be putting up at work. You’ll be spending as much time with your boss as you spend with your family.

11 Abusive Boss Signs In The Workplace

No one deserves an abusive boss, so make sure to work with the right one. Here are some abusive boss signs enlisted that tell about your boss. If this is the case, you should leave as soon as you can.

Avoid staying for too long as it will just worsen the situation and damage your peace.

1. He Disregards You Whenever Gets A Chance:

Showing such kind of behavior is unacceptable in any way. One of the abusive boss signs is they demean you in front of everyone else.

Yet, he has no right to yell at you before other people or behind closed doors.

Abusive Bosses Show Disgust Towards You
He Disregards You Whenever Gets A Chance

But this is how it is. It’s the most obvious sign you are working for an abusive boss.

Your boss might be degrading you just because it gives him a sense of superiority. And that’s because he has deep-rooted insecurities.

2. He Grins His Teeth When You’re Around:

Everything you do feels to be wrong. And your abusive boss will always criticize you for the work you do. 

Abusive bosses do this often, treat you with disdain, yet keeps you around. He’ll be tapping his desk or snapping his fingers.

And he can’t handle anger. So being cold, using non-verbal or hostile sarcasm is his way of getting frustration out.

Soon you’ll realize that your boss is trying to make you doubt yourself.

3. Abusive Boss Signs – You’re The Villain In This Story:

You must be thinking that talking to your boss in a one-on-one meeting can be helpful. And it might solve the problem. But it isn’t going to happen.

When you do so, your abusive boss doesn’t respond positively. And he might put all the blame for his mistakes and feelings on you.

Abusive Boss Signs
Abusive Boss Signs – You’re The Villain In This Story

An abusive boss tries his best to put you or others in the place of a villain. Creating miscommunication and frustration is their favorite thing to do.

So he blames others yet portrays that he is the one getting blamed. And if your conversation with your boss didn’t go well, then it’s time to look for a new one.

4. There’s A Question Mark On Your Efforts:

An abusive boss will belittle your opinions and makes you think that you aren’t enough.

And your ideas get questioned to the extent that you begin to doubt your worth. They might do it in person or in front of your coworkers.

So blaming you for all the problems at work is also an abusive boss sign. Meanwhile, he credits himself for every good thing happening at the workplace.

If you aren’t working for long hours, your abusive boss will question your commitment to the job.

However, if you don’t put in much effort, you must be fearful of getting fired.

5. Abusive Boss Signs – Hides It Behind A Cunning Smile:

Abusive bosses hide their toxic nature behind the curtain of a calm, pleasant nature.

They Will Deceive You With Their Friendly Nature
Abusive Boss Signs – Hides It Behind A Cunning Smile

And they use friendliness to troll other people at the workplace. So you might find your boss friendly and charming while smoking with you.

But the reality behind it is something else. And the purpose is to manipulate other people as they lack empathy and wellness.

6. Sheilds Himself As If It’s A War:

When you talk to your abusive boss, he will avoid looking directly into your eyes. He’ll focus on his computer or shuffle through the papers.

Well, it’s a good sign that tells your boss gets threatened by you. And he feels insecure because of his capabilities.

When a boss feels that you are better than them, you end up in a power struggle.

7. Threatens You Every Now And Then:

Is your boss intimidating you? Does he often threaten to fire you? If yes, then he is being abusive and using power to have control.

Abusive Boss Signs
Threatens You Every Now And Then

And the worse he can do is threaten to harm you physically.

Other than threatening gestures, intimidating can be in the form of towering over you. So he may even try to invade your personal space and give you stern looks.

8. Abusive Boss Signs – Initiates A Falsehood About You:

Abusive people can go to any lengths to make others look bad. And you might find your boss gossiping with others about your work, health, or even personal life.

Abusive Boss Loves To Spread Around A False Word
Abusive Boss Signs – Initiates A Falsehood About You

Your abusive boss can go to the extent of lying about you to destroy your reputation.

And they do this to justify the unfair treatment they are giving you.

9. Abusive Boss Signs – You Don’t Have A Personal Space:

Some bosses even spy on their employees and try to stalk them. Your boss might be doing the same. If your boss is abusive, he might try to listen to your private conversations.

You can expect an abusive person to go to any extent. And your boss might tamper with your personal belongings and work equipment.

So look out for your boss when you are out of your office. He will try to poke around your office.

And he is trying to find something for ammunition to use against you.

10. Undermining Your Work Is A Sign:

Abusive bosses set deadlines that are impossible to meet. And the purpose is to put you towards a failure.

So he keeps on changing the project guidelines regularly. As it increases the workload as well as the chances of failure.

They Set Unrealistic Deadlines And Then Undermine The Work
Undermining Your Work Is A Sign

Your boss won’t give you the necessary information related to the project. So this withholding of information causes your projects to be incomplete and late.

And he sabotages your success and undermines your work to satisfy their ego.

Another tactic used by your boss is a refusal to provide any feedback.

11. Doesn’t Know The True Meaning Of Leadership:

A thing that drives the employees crazy is a boss who doesn’t lead by example.

It’s pretty troubling to feel inspired by a person who doesn’t walk the talk. And you can’t take the job seriously unless the person setting standards not follows.

So if your boss is doing the same, it’s time to leave this job.

Why Abuse At Workplace Is Harmful

Many people bear the poor treatment and abuse of their boss in fear of losing their job. Because they don’t want to create drama or a tense situation in the office.

But letting an abusive boss get away with his bad behavior is not a good idea too.

His abusive behavior is bad for your mental health. And if you do nothing to stop it, it will continue.

Workplace Abuse Damages Your Mental Health
Why Abuse At Workplace Is Harmful

So if you feel frightened when your boss is around, then it’s time to stand up against his abuse.

And it can be good for you. Studies show that confronting an abusive boss helps you to hold onto your sanity.

So you’ll also feel better about yourself because you didn’t sit back and took a stand. And people who stand up to abuse also earn the respect of their coworkers.

Confronting an abusive boss makes you more committed to your job. And you feel that nothing can keep you from doing your work.

6 Steps For How To Confront An Abusive Boss

Although it’s not easy to stand up to your boss. But if you think that your boss is taking advantage of you, you should consider doing so.

But don’t ignore the possible consequences. And you might get disciplined or lose your job for doing so.

Some people prioritize confronting the abuse than maintain their position at the workplace.

While some people cope with the situations and hunt for a new job. So whatever your decision is, get yourself prepared to deal with the possible results.

And if you really want to confront your boss, here are six steps to do it effectively.

1. Stay Confident

Abusive bosses know how to control and manipulate someone who tries to confront them. So you must not look confused, nervous, or defeated.

Abusive Boss Signs
Stay Confident

And no matter where the discussion is heading towards, keep yourself solid and professional.

So remember not to give it to the pressure and keep your spirits high.

2. Be Specific

When you confront your boss, keep concrete examples of how he offended you. Because it’s pretty evident that he will demand proof.

And if you try to tackle this situation without examples, you’ll seem to be overreacting.

Abusive bosses won’t ever take responsibility for their mean behavior. And he might try to put the blame back on you or brush it off.

But don’t let him blame you for his actions and recognize this for what it is.

3. Keep Your Hard Work Going On

Don’t let your boss’s abusive behavior de-track you from your work. And instead of gossiping around with your coworkers about what’s happening. You can choose to produce good quality work.

Stay Focused To Your Job
Keep Your Hard Work Going On

The mess your boss is creating will come into the way of your projects. But don’t allow your projects to fall behind because of it.

And document all of your successes to have proofs.

4. Get Outside Help

If nothing works and your boss continues to abuse you, contact human resources.

Yet, it’s better to contact the supervisor of your boss. So have a record of all the abusive incidents with dates, times, and witnesses.

Also, keep the electronic proofs ready. And if you feel that you’re emotionally drained, seek help from a mentor.

It’s never advisable to let abuse affect your mental health and productivity.

5. Remember What You Can Control And What Not

You can’t control what other people say or do, but you can control your response.

Not Everything Is Under Your Control So Be Relax
Remember What You Can Control And What Not

So you should avoid letting your emotions get in while confronting your boss. However, if you can’t calmly confront your boss, then postpone this plan.

And get yourself prepared for your boss’s retaliation. Keep a plan designed in case your boss fires you for addressing his behavior.

6. Take A Stand

An abusive boss will like you for being passive about his behavior. Let him know that he was wrong to count you in.

Be calm and assertively confront your boss. The purpose is to defend yourself without being aggressive.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Abusive?

It's common to have a demanding boss who holds you to high standards. But if your boss continuously treats you with disdain, then he is emotionally abusive. A boss should never make you feel shame for your work and be guilty.

What Constitutes An Abusive Boss?

A workplace where there's a high turnover of staff is a sign of an abusive boss or toxicity. So an abusive boss constitutes a toxic work environment where there is abuse and disgust.

How Do You Deal With A Boss That Belittles You?

You need to address this issue quickly if your boss is belittling you. Talk to your boss and convey clearly what you find disrespectful or hurtful. No one deserves to get treated with disrespect at work. So confront your boss and tell him what is unbearable.

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Trying To Get Rid Of You?

Not getting to work on challenging assignments is a clear sign that your boss wants you to go. You do not receive enough support for your professional growth, your boss avoids you.


If you learn to identify the abusive boss signs, you won’t blame yourself.

Not taking responsibility for something that wasn’t your fault lets you live in peace.

The presence of an abusive boss doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. Instead, it’s the fault of your boss that he is choosing abuse to drive things.

Keep this perspective in mind, don’t let this situation affect your self-esteem.

Remember that you’re doing your best, and keep going on!

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Last Updated on 2 years by Assma Riaz

Shahzaib Arshad
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