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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jude Black

Secrets to Surviving a Toxic Boss

Whatever brought you here to read about Toxic Leadership, I believe we can all agree that the struggle is real. If you are working for one of these goons, then you probably already feel frustrated, angry, and discouraged. You may even feel hopeless. I am here to encourage you that there is hope. You will be able to breathe deeper and as all things do, this will pass. If you can, explore new opportunities- you have value. If you are stuck in your job and simply can't walk away, I just want to encourage you. The tides will change, trust me. I survived the toxicity of a narcissistic military commander and chose to walk away from my former boss (Oh Snap! I Fired my Start-Up Boss)

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

~Helen Keller


First of all, breathe. It may feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that toxic boss hates you and only you. The good new? You are not terminally unique. Rarely is one person the victim of a toxic boss. Toxic bosses leave bodies wherever they travel. Read "What the Heck is a Toxic Boss" for details.

Although there is “not a one size fits all” solution for handling toxic bosses, here are a few Secrets to Survival:

  1. If your toxic boss is the exploder, never let them see the whites of your eyes or sense fear. Remain calm. They thrive on power.

  2. Prioritize; know when to lay low and when to stand your ground.

  3. Monitor the toxic boss’s mood. Some may exhibit stronger toxic behaviors towards deadlines, projects etc.

  4. Analyze stressors trickling down from senior leadership that influence your toxic boss. Be aware of stressors.

  5. ALWAYS use the chain-of-command. Do not jump over senior leaders. You almost immediately become a whiner and not a team player.

  6. Do not gossip. That never ends well. Period. The “stealthy type” may resort to these tactics. As tempting as it may be, do not lower your standards.

  7. Again, remember that you are not terminally unique. This really isn’t about you. Your boss is toxic. You can’t own that.

  8. Flip this to a challenge. When the toxic boss criticizes you, find something (constructive criticism) that you can take hold of to better yourself.

  9. Use mindfulness techniques and exercises to help reduce stress. Mindfulness teaches people to live in the moment, as it unfolds. Think about Buddha on the mountain~ life happens, he reflects, and moves forward with purpose.

  10. Toxic bosses who resort to rumors are tricky. You can let your character stand for itself (keep notes!) or confront (cautiously) the toxic boss requesting they come to you directly if they have a problem or concern as opposed to colleagues.

  11. Try to find one positive thing to focus on when the breath is sucked right out of you. Do not let that toxic boss’s wretched behavior become a cancer in your life.

  12. Consciously identify someone that you can vent to OUTSIDE of your work. Preferable a very trusted, tightlipped friend who is wise and solid. Remember #6. Don’t do it.

  13. Use this experience as a blueprint for new jobs. Make sure you talk to current and past employees and check out the culture of the company. You better talk, creep, investigate, analyze, research- do your homework!! Now that you know how you got burned, don’t touch it again. Seriously, use this experience as a platform to grow, avoid, adjust, and thrive.

  14. Be grateful for great leadership and focus on not being “that person”. Ever.


“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

—Stephen Covey


About the Author: Dr. Jude Black is the CEO & Founder of E-Therapy Cafe. She is our Story Lover, Emotional Healer, Chaos Calmer, Change Catalyst, Resiliency Ninja, & Life Expert. To schedule a session with Dr. Black, click here.

E-Therapy Café™ is a people-focused, innovative online counseling and coaching platform for individuals, couples, families and corporations. The mission is to provide professional, convenient, and affordable, modern online therapy – anytime, anywhere for everyone. The Boutique Team of Licensed Therapists and Certified Life Coaches are passionate change catalyst, focused on realistic goals in today’s fast-paced world. The headquarters is in Northern VA with a nationwide and global reach.

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