Stress Relief Tool – Dealing With A Bad Boss

A bad boss can have devastating effects on your overall health. Learn a few ideas that can help reduce your stress.

It is likely that sometime in your working career you will report to someone who really shouldn’t be managing people, and maybe some of you reading this have been unlucky to experience more than one bad boss.

When I was co-writing my second book, Money Isn’t All That Matters – Strategies For Attracting And Retaining Technical Professionals, I interviewed dozens of small, medium, and large organizations. What I found out from these organizations was that money was important, of course, but there were a whole host of other reasons (both tangible and intangible) that influence a technical professional’s decision to work for an organization – and at the top of that list was his or her relationship with their manager. This was reinforced in a Gallup poll of 7,272 adults, where 50% of respondents said that they left their companies because of their bosses.

A bad boss can have devastating effects on your overall health. I dealt with this firsthand as I ended up in the emergency room and an extended stay in ICU with a severe case of diabetic ketoacidosis (in simple terms my body was eating itself alive) because of how I was reacting to my micro-manager boss.

Sadly, I’m not alone. A study performed by found that 77% of employees had experienced physical systems of stress due to a bad boss, with those who had an inconsiderate or uncommunicative manager 60% more likely to suffer heart trauma. The problem is so bad that three out of every four employees report that their boss is the worst part of their job, with 65% saying they would take a new boss over a pay raise.

So, what can you do if you are unlucky enough to report to a bad boss? Here are a few ideas that can help reduce your stress:

  • Set proper boundaries. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time, which allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do or really need to do.
  • Clarify expectations. If you have any doubt about a deliverable that you are responsible for, don’t assume you have it right. Clarify expectations (preferably in writing) with your boss to ensure you deliver as expected.
  • Stay one step ahead. Especially with a micro-manager, anticipate the tasks that your manager expects and get them done well ahead of time. That way when your boss reminds you of a particular task, you can confirm its already done. Do this enough times and your micro-manager boss may realize they don’t need to watch your every move.
  • Bonus tip: if you are interviewing for a new job, do everything you can to find out the management tendencies of your potential new boss. You can look on LinkedIn for others who report to that person and connect with them for coffee to learn more about the culture of their organization while also finding out more about what they like and what are the challenges with reporting to that particular individual.

A bad boss is not worth negatively affecting your health. Find at least one idea that helps you reduce your stress, and take it from me – don’t trade your health for your career because that is a very bad trade.

Please note that there is no guarantee a particular stress relief tool will work for you. Thus you must take complete responsibility for using them and for your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Further, Professor Pete Alexander is not a licensed health professional. Please consult qualified health practitioners regarding your use of any stress relief technique. Medical advice must only be obtained from a physician or qualified health practitioner.


Professor Pete Alexander
Professor Pete Alexander
An accomplished business professional with over 35 years of sales, marketing, educational and entrepreneurial experience, Professor Pete Alexander hosts the popular Winning at Business and Life 7-minute leadership podcast focused on successful business leaders and their insights. He is also the President of the greatest interior landscaping company in the San Francisco Bay Area - Office Plants by Everything Grows. In addition, he helps people more effectively deal with their stress because, without your health, nothing else matters. This was a very hard lesson for Professor Pete to learn, and he is proud to have successfully battled the negative effects of stress head-on and developed the LIGHTEN™ stress management model that motivates you and/or your team to take action in only a few minutes per day. After learning the stress management techniques he facilitates, participants can better protect their health and handle challenging situations with grace and success.

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