You feel like you’re in a situation where you can’t win: If you do a good job, you know that your boss will just take credit for it and if you try to call him out or ignore his bad ideas, he’ll find some way to punish you. Luckily, there are ways that you can interact with your difficult boss to ease the pain and possibly even get him to change his ways.
Be positive. When dealing with bullying or abusive bosses, few things throw them off their game more than when people don’t cow before them and seem to be unfazed by their behavior. So instead of hanging your head down during the next meeting tirade or getting angry or defensive, smile and remain confident and poised.
Encourage good behavior. Your boss isn’t always a jerk, right? When he or she does something well or treats people nicely, make sure that you go out of your way to be thankful and appreciative; when your boss acts poorly, don’t attack him for it. Do your best to ignore it and remain unfazed. Hopefully, he’ll eventually get the message that certain things he does are appropriate and certain things aren’t, and modify his behavior on his own.
Make them think it’s their idea. Some bosses just think they know everything and they hate it when one of their employees comes up with something that’s better than their idea. In fact, they hate it so much that often they’ll purposefully kill plans and projects that they didn’t create themselves or punish workers who “beat” them. If you want to get out of situations like this without suffering or seeing your project beaten into the ground, sometimes you need to give them credit and tell them how much they helped—even if they had nothing to do with it!
Stay calm and professional. You’re not doing yourself any good if you let your boss get you so riled up that you start playing their game by arguing or fighting. All that this will do is make you seem unprofessional, and people looking on from the outside are more likely to believe that you are the problem rather than your boss. If you decide to confront your boss, don’t yell, blame, or use derogatory names, just call him out for his actions and say that you don’t feel it’s very professional.
Document everything. Of course, confronting your difficult boss can be a dangerous proposition since there is always the chance that they will decide to take it out on you by treating you worse (extra work, more hours, sanctions, or even firing you). Before you opt for trying this route, make sure that you spend some time documenting any and every instance of your boss’s bad behavior that you can remember, and be as specific as possible. Include things like dates, times, what they said, how you responded, and how many times the behavior has occurred. Then, after your confrontation, make sure that you document that, too, as well as any fallout you face once you’ve had the conversation.