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What to do when your boss disrespects you

What to Do When Your Boss Disrespects You [10 Warning Signs]

Let’s face it, everyone wants to work for someone that values us, our time, and our ideas. You work hard. You say “yes” far more than you say “no.” Yet, you still feel disrespected at the office. 

Most likely, it’s your fault! OK, I know those words are hard to hear. But we set the tone for how we’re treated. There is a payoff of some kind – and the payoff is usually mutual. For example, your boss always takes credit for your ideas. The payoff for your boss is that he looks better to his boss. The payoff for you is that you’ve averted a confrontation by allowing him to steal your ideas. 

The good news is you can change! 

But before you can know what to do when your boss disrespects you, you need to recognize the signs you’re being disrespected. Here are 10 signs your boss doesn’t respect you: 

  1. Your time means nothing. Have you ever been given a task but no instructions? It’s like making dinner without a recipe. You spin your wheels trying to get the job done only to be told you’ve done it wrong and to start over. 
  2. Your boss overlooks or “forgets” prior commitments. Your request for time off was granted only to be “forgotten” when things didn’t go the way your boss wanted. And somehow, it’s your responsibility to fix things. 
  3. You’re on a need-to-know basis. Simple things that would help you do your job better are never communicated. You are constantly wondering “why?”
  4. Your boss steals your ideas for personal gain. A client of mine constantly told me she was asked for her opinion only to learn her boss stole it as their own. She thought her opinion really mattered only to learn she was feeding her boss’s ego. 
  5. Your boss doesn’t acknowledge your contribution. This happens when your boss is fearful that you’re better at your job than they are. Instead of patting you on the back for a job well done, you don’t get acknowledged at all.
  6. Your boss disrupts your life without hesitation. You get a phone call late Friday afternoon asking you to complete a report for Monday morning’s 8 AM meeting. This is the weekend you’re planning a ski trip and the whole office knows how much you’re looking forward to going. 
  7. Your boss micromanages everything you do. A good boss will trust that you are capable of doing the job you were hired to do. Yet your boss watches over you like a hawk, constantly checking for any mistake you might make. 
  8. Your boss makes sure you know you’re replaceable. Words like “any monkey can do it” are common. You’re not consulted in your area of expertise. You’re constantly being told you’re replaceable. 
  9. You get the grunt work. You have an MBA, yet your office responsibility is unjamming the copier and fetching afternoon lattes. 
  10. Your boss constantly changes their mind about what they want you to do. Every day your job description seems to change. You can’t keep up with what you’re supposed to be doing. You get urgent messages that need to be addressed ASAP only to receive contradictory instructions later. 

Chances are your boss is more fearful of you than disrespects you. His disrespect is how he deals with his fears. Here is what to do when your boss disrespects you

Learn to communicate effectively with your boss. 

Perhaps early in the employee-employer relationship you failed to effectively communicate with your boss. Understand what your boss expects from you and deliver on your promises. Establish trust. Take tips from couple’s therapy. Repeat what was said to you and ask, “do I understand this correctly?”

Don’t be afraid to speak up. When you ignore disrespectful behavior, in a subtle way, you’re accepting it. Instead ask why. Ask if there is a way you can be more effective, complete the tasks more efficiently, or another way to ask for your boss’s guidance on a project.

Take ownership in the role you play. 

What’s your payout been? Are trying to climb the corporate ladder and feel you deserve to “pay your dues?” Maybe you really need this job and cannot afford to lose it, so you grin and bear it. 

Identify your payout. Do some soul searching to determine whether the way you’re being treated is worth what you’re getting. 

If your boss is taking credit for the work you do, it’s likely you will not be climbing that corporate ladder. And if you do, do you really want to work for a company that fosters disrespectful behavior?

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