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The Manipulative Boss

The Manipulative Boss

You are lucky if you have never come across a manipulative boss. However, there is a fine line between being “bossy” and being manipulative. A boss that is bossy wants things done on time and in order but knows that they don’t need to bring an employee down for it. A manipulative boss finds pleasure in bringing someone down because they feel it’s the only way to get to them. They don’t know how to communicate with their employees without hurting them. Knowing how to handle a manipulative boss can give you the power to decide on your next move. 


Glassdoor interviewed Stephanie Sarkis, a clinical specialist on how to deal with a manipulative boss. Her book, “Gaslighting-Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People- and Break Free” gives insight on how to deal with emotionally abusive people in a healthy way.

She states that a boss that is truly toxic can be soul-crushing and uses “gaslighting” as a way to manipulate you and even question your competence. One example is that they lie even when they are being called out in their lies.

So, how do you deal with toxic boss? Well, there is not much you can do in regards to them. For yourself, you can find another job or seek advice from an attorney. But, what if you can’t? What if you have a contract with your company and you can’t leave? It’s unfortunate but you have to accept their demeaning behavior and learn to detach from it. This could come to an emotional cost to you but seeking emotional support and help from others is essential.

So, how do you know when it’s enough? Stephanie states that it depends on how invested you are in your job. If you dread going to work every day, then maybe that’s a sign to let it go. I had a client who took her problems home with her every day and was emotionally drained. She was so exhausted and had anxiety every time before she went into work. 

The biggest mistake you can make is reacting to your boss attack towards you. I know it’s easier said than done but reacting to their toxic behaviors enables them to continue on with their abusive behavior. They can even report your to HR without having it be any of their fault. The point is to not stoop to their level and to be the bigger person. 

Additionally, Stephanie suggests finding more about gaslighting and ways to cope with toxic behaviors before going into your next job. This means reading reviews and asking around about the job, position or manager. 

Employee Turnovers

The disadvantage part of manipulative bosses is that they don’t often change or think they are the problem. Due to their attitude, they often experience what is called an employee turnover. Employee turnover is the number of employees that leave a company and are replaced by new employees. Measuring this helps a company break down the reasons behind an employers decision for leaving. 


Jimmy Smith, from Peoria Magazine, enlisted different reasons why a company experiences employee turnovers. Out of many, I have found two to be the most common ones. He has stated that “good people don’t leave good organizations-they leave poor managers!” 


Rude behavior is the first reason why employees quit. This can go many ways including assigning blame, playing favorites and retaliation from their employers. Employees end up feeling resentful and mistreated by their managers. 


Many managers that are good at their jobs aren’t good leaders. Smith states, “Leaders aren’t born-they are made.” They should lead by example. Therefore, people skills can be learned and developed over time. 


Basically, manipulative managers may not change for the better. They may receive backlash or employee turnovers that could worsen their reputation or the company’s reputation. Despite their behavior, you can always change how you look at the situation and respond differently. Either remove yourself from the situation, change the situation if you can or accept the situation. The power is in your control. 


I am the Founder and CEO of Counseling On Demand with a Master's Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy with over 25 years of experience in helping Individuals, Couples, Adolescents, and Families who struggle with a wide variety of Life's Challenges. I thus have developed an Array of Effective Counseling Tools and Evidenced-Based Interventions to help you towards Your Road to Better Mental Health and Wellness. You are Never Alone...I look forward to meeting with you or your family member soon!