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How to Deal With a Hypocritical Boss

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Working with a hypocritical boss can decrease your work satisfaction and, consequently, your job performance. Therefore, finding a solution to this problem is essential to ensuring that you are a happy and productive employee. You must recognize that you cannot control your boss’s behavior. However, you can control your own. No matter what inconsistencies your boss throws your way, maintain a consistent response that is mature and conciliatory.

Ask a different supervisor for a clear explanation of the rules. You may think your boss is hypocritical because he makes up rules or applies the rules unevenly. It may be that he is, in fact, exempt from these rules. For example, if you are only allowed a 30-minute break for lunch and you see your boss routinely going out for hours of martini lunches, it may be that he is schmoozing with clients. Tactfully ask for a clarification of the rules as they apply to both you and your boss. Knowing what the company rules actually are will help your work performance and give you recourse if a dispute between you and your boss ever goes before both your and your boss' superiors.

Repeat instructions back to your boss to make sure you both understand what is expected of you. If your boss asks you to write a 10-page report by the next day, say “Just so I’m clear, I’m to write a 10-page finance report and leave it on your desk tomorrow by 9 a.m.?” This is a simple communication technique that is surprisingly effective. Hearing his own instructions repeated may make your boss see a possible inconsistency in them. This will also help ensure that you are fulfilling your work duties as expected.

Arrange a sit-down meeting. No matter what your relationship is with your boss, both of you should be able to have a mature, professional discussion and work on some of your issues. Be polite and professional during this meeting and in all communications with your boss. Though you may be very frustrated with the situation, expressing your frustration in an emotional and unprofessional way will not help the problem, and may put your job in jeopardy.

Analyze your own behavior. You may be sensitive to criticism and decide that your boss is a hypocrite because he expects different standards from you than from himself. In reality, you may not be fully aware of the work your boss puts in because he or she does not answer to you. It is possible that your boss does an excellent job and that his or her criticisms of you may derive from a desire to help you grow. He may genuinely want you to improve your performance for the good of the company.


Based in the Washington, D.C. metro area, Sarah Nyako has been writing professionally since 2008. Her area of expertise is health, fitness and the pharmaceutical industry. She is currently working towards a master's degree in medical writing.