5 Steps To Deal With A Manipulative Boss – 12 Signs

Written By Shahzaib Arshad

Workplace peace has become more important in the 21st century than ever before. But still, there are people who won’t stay refrained from creating manipulation at the workplace.

Dealing with a manipulative boss is harder than a manipulative coworker because you’re directly reporting to the former one.

Dealing With A Manipulative Boss – 12 Signs Of A Manipulative Boss

Manipulative bosses undermine your long-term career objectives. Because that’s what is necessary to satisfy their ego.

Before you roll up your sleeves to deal with your boss, first learn the signs of manipulation he is causing.

So let’s just dig into these signs of a manipulative boss to know how to deal with a manipulative boss.

1. She Won’t Let You Be Bold:

Often, manipulation comes as small innocent jokes on your personality or the way you talk.

Manipulative comments might sound innocent, but if your boss says, it diminishes confidence. You won’t feel bold or self-assured for yourself.

How To Deal With A Manipulative Boss
He Won’t Let You Be Bold

Notice how your boss or coworkers pass comments on you and see if you’re uncomfortable. If it is so, then manipulation has crossed the line to become harassment.

2. There’s A Nought On Your Manipulative Boss’s Lips:

A manipulative boss will always maintain his dominance by using silent treatment. No, your boss isn’t too busy to ignore your calls or emails; he is intentionally doing so.

It might be frustrating if you have to report to your boss about the projects and plans directly.

A study shows that this is a quiet way to get someone forced to yield to their demands.

3. He Has A Permanent Microscope To Look At You:

Manipulative bosses always watch you closely, and they will do it until they get the desired results.

Manipulators Are Always Micromanagers
He Has A Permanent Microscope To Look At You

It can be a bit weird that he is watching your every move during office hours, including which desk you use, because he wants to sit right next to you.

But this boss won’t stop putting his nose into your business.

4. It’s All About The Twisted Truths:

Most of the time, a manipulative boss is also an uncontrollable liar. They engage in lies or holds important information to get leverage over you.

Lying is the basis of manipulation. So manipulative bosses have to lie to cover their hidden agendas.

5. He Prefers You To Fall In Line Instead Of Raising Questions:

You might be very careful about your words when you talk to your boss, but it’s still normal for people to ask questions in an office.

But a manipulative boss will always prefer falling inline rather than asking questions.

In fact, he wants to maintain the status of his dominance.

Though there’s never a wrong time to ask questions, it doesn’t always go well with a manipulative boss. He will prefer you not ask him anything to have the upper hand in office politics and management strategy.

6. Manipulative Boss Makes You Feel Guilty For Taking Time Off Work:

Manipulative bosses are very smart at manipulating. They will use every small comment or gesture to make you feel guilty for taking leaves and time off work.

You might even be told about all the other employees who show up on time, but then your boss never turns up before 11 am.

They want unhappy employees because they can be easily manipulated or coerced to give in to their demands.

7. You’d Never Hear A Round Of Applause In The Office:

Despite your efforts for the work, you never get an appreciation for what you do. You helped a client by going out of your way, but your boss doesn’t acknowledge it.

Your Boss Is Manipulating You By Never Appreciating You
You’d Never Hear A Round Of Applause In The Office

If he says you get paid for whatever you do, this is a classic sign you’re working for a manipulative boss.

He is trying to make you feel inadequate and as if you don’t deserve any praise.

8. The Manipulative Boss Is Always On The Take:

Your boss insists that he shared information, but neither you nor your coworker heard it before. Yes, it can be due to his forgetfulness.

But if it happens on a regular basis, then remember that they are trying to gaslight you.

The effects of gaslighting are dangerous for the victim because he feels depressed and loses self-worth.

9. You All Are Suspicious Of One Another:

Workplace trust is about collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking. But this is all something that a manipulative boss can’t handle.

They have a goal to control every person who works under them. So it’s favorable for them if the team doesn’t collaborate and refuses to work together.

The Boss Creates An Air Of Mistrust
You All Are Suspicious Of One Another

To achieve this state, the boss creates an air of mistrust in the office.

Controlling a group when they get divided is easier for a manipulative boss.

10. Uses The Pressure Game – Frightens You:

Companies do have an employee handbook with the enlisted rights of employees. But it doesn’t stop manipulative bosses from using pressure and coercion on their employees.

Did you make a mistake, and your boss raises his voice to show that he’s unhappy? Or he often threatens you to do better; he’s manipulating you by instilling fear.

This behavior is so dangerous that it can undermine mutual trust and cause a person stress.

11. Manipulators Grasp Onto Your Achievements:

If your boss is manipulative to you, he must be doing the same to others. Manipulators can turn any situation in their favour, and they won’t feel ashamed of it.

Even if they have to take credit for other people’s work, they won’t stop.

Stealing The Credit Of Your Work Is What They Do
Manipulators Grasp Onto Your Achievements

You discussed a new idea with your manager only to see an email later where they credited it to themselves.

It’s not alright to let such behavior going on. If you don’t strive to take credit for your work, it will negatively impact your career prospects.

12. Loves To Throw You Under The Bus:

A manipulative boss is never to get blamed when something goes wrong. It’s always the fault of others.

Such bosses blamed others, and through this blame, they control other’s emotions.

Specifically, where multiple parties are working, it’s harder to know whose fault it was when things go wrong

Manipulators take advantage here and make other people self-criticize themselves.

5 Steps To Deal With A Manipulative Boss

You change others, but you can develop some strategies to protect yourself from manipulation. These five steps will help you to avoid manipulators.

1. School Yourself About What You Deserve:

Everyone has the right to get treated with respect at the workplace. It includes a person’s right to protect himself from any emotional or physical harm.

A manipulative boss might use the threat of harm to make you do what they want. The situation can be different for different people.

How To Deal With A Manipulative Boss
School Yourself About What You Deserve

But everyone should be able to go to work without getting threats for demotion or job loss.

If you aren’t harming anyone else, you can set your boundaries to enjoy a perfect work-life.

2. How To Deal With A Manipulative Boss – Stop Being Accessible To Them:

This step can be a bit difficult for the ones who are directly reporting to manipulative bosses.

But a close observation can be helpful here. Give a close look at how your boss interacts with other people.

If you think they have a specific personality for you and a different personality for others, they are manipulating only you.

Maintain a safe distance as much as possible. It’s a symptom of deep-rooted, psychological manipulation.

3. Being Strong Headed Is The Need Of Hour:

You should repeatedly revise the process in mind and remember how to deal with a manipulative boss. If your boss asks you to stay in the office until late at night, you might do it once and overwork.

But if it’s a constant demand, then you should put a full stop to it at soon as possible.

Stay Strong While Dealing With Your Manipulative Boss
Being Strong Headed Is The Need Of Hour

That’s because you’re dealing with a manipulative boss who is getting more work done for you.

So you should have a strong boundary to protect your own interests.

4. Trap Him Into His Own Plans To Deal With A Manipulative Boss:

You can retrace your steps and backtrack by asking probing questions. “Don’t you think it’s an unreasonable request? Does this seem fair to you?

Are you asking me or ordering me? Am I not allowed to say something?” These are some examples of the questions you can throw at your manipulative boss.

If your boss has a degree of self-awareness, he’ll recognize being unreasonable and step back.

However, if your boss doesn’t seem to step back, you should stay a bit polite while saying No.

5. Don’t Hold Yourself Accountable:

You should never blame yourself for the actions that belong to others because this is what a manipulative boss wants.

How To Deal With A Manipulative Boss
Don’t Hold Yourself Accountable

If you start questioning yourself, you’d be in trouble and feel demotivated to continue. Manipulators make us feel bad about ourselves and get what they want. Remember that the problem is not you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Outsmart A Manipulative Boss?

You should avoid contact with your manipulative boss and avoid getting manipulated. Set your goals and boundaries and stay firm about them. Assume responsibility for what you do.

How Do You Trick A Manipulator?

You need to get rid of the motive. Focus your attention on the manipulator and use people's names when talking to them. Look straight into their eye and don't let them generalize their conceptions. Distract yourself and keep a safe distance.

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Manipulating You?

A manipulative boss withholds communication and leaves you unsure where you stand. He encourages the employees to compete for his attention. Your manipulative boss uses guilt to convince you to put more effort into work.

How Do You Disarm A Manipulator?

See-through the smoke because manipulators are the kings of deception. Keep calm and trust your gut. Take your time to make a plan for fighting manipulation. Be sure about your boundaries; no means no.


Bosses have always been a problem for the world, but that doesn’t stop us from solving our issues.

A manipulative boss will do anything to win and dominate even if he’s hurting someone by doing so.

Manipulators convince you that they are helping you while they are controlling you.

The best way to deal with this is to handle the bosses with care and a professional manner.

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

Last Updated on 3 months by Aleena

Shahzaib Arshad
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