3 Strategies for Surviving an Evil Boss

Jeff Cuellar



“Just leave!” is the answer everyone shouts when it comes to the question of dealing with a Hitler-esque boss. However, not everyone has the luxury of leaving – especially military personnel, bonded employees, and those with pressing family and financial obligations. In situations like these, you only have one option – survival. Here are three strategies on how you can endure the reign of an evil boss:


1. Never Walk Alone

Many survivors triumph over difficult and even life-threatening situations because they develop deep bonds with the people around them. This method of overcoming adversity has helped war veterans, cancer patients, disaster victims, prison inmates… and yes, even demoralised employees. That’s because this strategy relies on the proven idea that there is “strength in unity.”

Knowing you’re not alone when dealing with a boss that’s Satan incarnate creates a common cause that makes it easier for co-workers to bond and mutually support each other. Of course, this only works if you have colleagues who are not the Kiasu/Machiavellian-type (stay away from them!). So how can you nurture good relationships with your fellow chain-gangers? Here are a few tips to follow:

  • A victory for one is a victory for all: Celebrate the victories/deeds of your colleagues both in and out of the office and make it a point to find out more about their accomplishments. Take an interest in seeing them succeed – this positive karma will find its way back to you.
  • Connect inside/outside of the office: Regular social interaction is scientifically proven to help you cope with stressful situations – whether through face-to-face interaction, phone, email or text. So make the most of your “social time” with co-workers/friends/family so you can handle that boss-induced stress.  
  • Appreciate the unappreciated: Mark Twain said it best with “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Showing our gratitude by genuinely thanking colleagues not only boosts their morale, but fosters an atmosphere where workplace positivity dramatically improves.

Of course, not every workplace offers the opportunity for regular social interaction. In that case, one way to forge a morale-boosting bond is to get a pet. Dogs for example have been used in numerous scientific studies to improve the lives of individuals suffering from traumatic experiences.


2. Defy the Workplace Gods


I’d rather be doing this than working on my boss’ regional tracking report.


Sometimes, you’re in a situation where you can’t strike up close workplace bonds because of a segregated office layout, unpleasant co-workers, or an office atmosphere as lonely as a solitary confinement cell. In these circumstances, surviving a demonic boss is difficult, but not impossible. This is when you’ve got to dig deep within yourself to bring out these traits:

  • Pride: Take pride in becoming an expert at your job while learning painful, but necessary lessons from your boss – such as how not to lead and manage a company.
  • Determination: Make it your long-term goal to endure and overcome any obstacle or failure that you come across at your job. Don’t quit when things get hard – elevate your “game” to meet challenges.
  • Defiance: Defy your boss through your actions – by working hard and accomplishing his/her tasks with a sly smile. Even better, if your boss is stagnant and isn’t improving his/her skills, supersede him/her by improving your own with professional development courses or self-learning. Follow us on Facebook as we talk about ways to upgrade your career with relevant skill courses.

Sisyphus is an excellent example of what I mean by “defying the workplace gods”. In Greek mythology, he was a fallen king condemned by the gods to forever roll a massive rock up a hill, let it roll back down, and roll it back up again. But Sisyphus didn’t despair at enduring this torturous task from a punishing boss – he saw every instance of rolling the rock up the hill as a triumph over the gods.

Albert Camus sums it up best in the essay The Myth of Sisyphus:

“The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.” 

In other words, “Screw you boss, I’ll accomplish ANY task you throw at me!”


3. Find Your Boss’ Humanity


And with Instagram, you can even take photos of yourself and post it online. It gets you popular real fast!


Could it be that inside every monstrous supervisor lies the tiny flicker of what appears to be humanity? Yes, even bloodthirsty dictators have a human side (Did you know Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco loved painting?). So it’s no surprise that your boss may actually just be misunderstood. Your boss may either be oblivious to the fact that he/she’s a horrible boss, or has an idea, but is afraid to ask how to improve.

While it’s sometimes hard to tell if your boss is completely evil or not, here are some simple tips that can help you answer that question:

  • I believe there’s good in you: Sometimes, all it takes is just a simple, honest talk to make your situation better. Try speaking to your boss in an honest, but respectful fashion about what behaviour disturbs you, and how he/she can improve.
  • Give valid reasons for change: If you give your boss the simple logical equation that his/her behaviour (A) makes you underperform, (B) equating to a bad end result, (C) he/she will be more inclined to change.
  • Hail to the King: Believe it or not, bosses have emotions too. So try praising your boss next time he/she does a good dead for the company/workplace. If you can get a few co-workers to join you in thanking your boss, you might find your boss transforming from a tyrant to a benevolent ruler instead.

Not all bosses will take kindly to even the most well-intentioned of critiques. If your boss is about as receptive to feedback as North Korea is to the idea of nuclear disarmament, then stick to the first two strategies instead.


Image Credits:
Perry Gerenday PhotographyJoshBassett|PHOTOGRAPHYMa_Co2013chriskk

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.