How to handle working with a toxic manager in-person as we return to offices

Put up boundaries

Think tactically

Top tips on communicating with a toxic boss, from the experts

  • Record a meeting: Evelyn says this could be a good tool ‘to find clues of where we can assert ourselves more and hold our space more fully’ and ‘can help keep agreements clear and trackable, preventing any gaslighting or goal posts from moving.’
  • Figure out if there’s a difference in style: Corinne says ‘a difficult relationship can be more about a clash of styles than anything else. For instance if your manager has a direct style then they might get frustrated with what they perceive as long-winded answers. Try to match how they think and their priorities. Rehearse what you are going to say to them and do so confidently and succinctly.’
  • Saying ‘no’: Karen advises that if you’re asked to take on more than you can, to not be afraid of saying no. ‘You could reframe the ‘no’ into a phrase like “Thank you for thinking of me, but I am actually at capacity at the moment so I don’t think I could give this the attention it deserves.”’

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