13 Signs Of Bosses Who Lie And Manipulate (And How To Handle) (2023)

There are currently more than 7.8 billion people worldwide, and many have manipulative personalities. Thus, you can’t avoid running into such individuals in different scenarios. This piece will discussbosses who lie and manipulateyou and what to do if you get stuck working for a person like that.

Table of Contents

Do You Work for a Manipulative Boss?

The chances are high that you are correct if you feel like something is off with the dynamics between you and your boss. The individual could very well be one of thebosses who lie and manipulate.

These are some of the feelings and experiences you might have if you work for amanipulativeperson:

You Feel Like You Can Never Do Enough

Bosses who lie and manipulatetend to downplay their workers. It’s a behavior that people typically use to fool others into working harder and striving for something unattainable.

In a work setting, a manipulative boss might tell a worker that his or her performance is subpar, not quite enough, or at the very bottom of the list of employees.

You might be dealing with such a personality if you give the job everything you have and receive negative feedback or a yawnish response to your efforts. That type of behavior can strip your self-esteem over time and demotivate you, so it’s important to get a handle on it quickly.

Read More: 5 Things To Do When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

Nothing You Do Is Ever Good Enough

A manipulative boss will find something wrong witheverythingyou do, even if you do it more efficiently. Most of the decisions you make will be wrong, and if you change your mind, the new decision will also be wrong.

If you go through this at your job, you can feel confident that you’re dealing with a manipulator.

(Video) 13 Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics You Need To Know About

You Feel Like Your Boss Competes With You

Do you feel like your boss races you to tend to customers, overtalks you when someone else is speaking to you, or outright knocks you out of the way? If so, you could be working for a manipulator.

Manipulators generally have low self-esteem and feel threatened by their subordinates. That could be ahorriblesituation to deal with if you have your own confidence issues.

Your Boss Ignores You and Talks Over You

You could have a manipulative boss if she goes out of her way to make you feel invisible. Don’t discount your gut feeling if you sense something negative like that. You could be right, even if you can’t put your finger on what’s happening.

You Feel Like Your Boss Is Setting You Up to Fail

Sabotage is a very real thing in the workplace today, and much of it comes from manipulative managers. You could be a manipulation victim if you receive incomplete or incorrect instructions and then get reprimanded for not doing the job correctly.

Signs of a Manipulative Boss

A toxic and manipulative boss will exhibit certain behaviors that you can evaluate, along with some of your suspicions. These are 13 signs of bosses who manipulate:

1. Gaslighting

Gaslightingis one of the most vastly used tactics of manipulative people.

This method of psychological warfare is used to challenge the target’s sense of reality. Thus, a gaslighting boss will deny doing anything cruel, damaging, or underhanded and try to convince the victims that they “have it all wrong.”

Nothing ever happens the way a manipulation victim says it did. Instead, the gaslighter accuses the victim of having a bad memory or mental disorder, or worse yet, he paints the individual as a manipulative person.

People call them manipulators because they lie well enough to fool the masses.

2. Narrative Changing

Narrative changing is a cousin to the gaslighting process. Manipulative bosses like to change events to save their jobs and throw their workers under the bus.

Thus, a manipulative boss might lie on a performance review, incident report, or disciplinary action to make a worker look bad to the higher-ups.

3. Blame Shifting

Bosses who lie and manipulatequickly shift the blame to their targets. The people they hurt with their behavior are the same ones they blame for it.

(Video) Darkest Manipulation Tactics Women Use To Control You ❌

4. Extreme Criticism

No one except for a select few workers will be good enough for a manipulative boss. They will put their employees down constantly and humiliate them in public if they get the chance.

5. Not Practicing What They Preach

Manipulative bosses have a habit of not practicing what they preach and being inconsistent with disciplinary actions. For example, your boss might tell you it’s okay to do something against company policy one day and then reprimand you for not doing it the next.

He will also pick and choose who to discipline and who not to for the same violation. Furthermore, manipulative personalities have a “Do as I say but not what I do” mindset. They’ll break all the rules in the book but treat you like a scumbag if you follow suit.

6. Unfair Treatment

Unfair treatment is at the core of every manipulative person’s heart. They do what benefits them and nothing more.

Thus, your boss may ask you to fill in for other people and come in on your days off, but you won’t get the same favor if you have to make it to an important meeting one day.

Read More: Reasons Your Coworker Gets Away With Everything (And Tips To Deal With It)

7. Two-Faced Actions

Most manipulative personalities are two-faced because they have to keep others open to their manipulations. They’re notorious for smiling in a worker’s face and then trashing that person behind his or her back.

One of the biggestsigns your boss is two-facedis when other people repeat things the boss has said about you, and none of them are good.

8. Goal-Post Moving

Moving the goal post is an old-time tactic manipulators use. It occurs when they set goals for their workers to strive for and continuously raise the bar when they get close to them.

9. Interfering

Manipulative bosses tend to interfere with everything from work tasks to personal life. For example, this type of individual will jump in as you’re trying to help a customer or close a deal to outshine you or make you look bad.

Don’t put it past a manipulative boss to interrupt a conversation with a loved one while you’re on break, either. Hemightsay something inappropriate.

10. Bullying and Intimidation

You’re most likely under the rulership of a manipulative person if you and your coworkers are subjected to abuse, such as bullying and intimidation.

(Video) 12 Gaslighting Phrases Abusive People Use To Control You

A manipulator will do her best to keep you on pins and needles, wondering if you’ll still have a job tomorrow. This individual will use sales goals, metrics, and other requirements to cause stress and fear throughout the organization.

You’ll also experience bullying tactics like ridicule, humiliation, belittling, demeaning, and more. Your boss might even raise her voice to you in front of your coworkers, making you feel small and insignificant.

11. Guilting and Shaming

Guilting and shaming are some additional go-tomanipulative boss tactics. You may experience guilting when you decline overtime or tasks that are not a part of your job description.

Shaming might also occur if you don’t meet the sales quotas or membership quantities.

The goal is to make you feel as inadequate as possible so that you’ll be grateful to have your job and work under such a “superior” human being. This behavior can weigh you down if you don’t know how to cope with authority figures who act this way.

12. Undermining Confidence

Manipulative bosses will always aim to strip the confidence of those who work for them. Many of them lack confidence and do it to level the energy within the establishment.

13. Roller-Coaster Operations

Another sign that you work forbosses who lie and manipulateis a constant feeling of walking on eggshells. You’ll never know when your manager will be nasty or nice because the design is to have you off balance and always aiming to please him.

How To Deal With a Manipulative Boss

There are only a few good ways you can deal with a manipulative boss effectively. You can choose one of these methods according to whether you want to fight to keep the job.

Schedule a meeting to talk with him or her.

It’s always more professional to follow the chain of command when dealing with a manipulative person. That way, you can document your interaction and show HR and the higher-ups that you tried to resolve the conflict with the manager before doing anything else. Therefore, you should schedule an open-door meeting if your organization has those.

Be sure to invite a neutral member of management to the meeting as a witness. Bring up your concerns to your manager and give him a chance to tell his side of the interaction story and make an effort to fix the problem.

Don’t get your hopes up too high about this person acting like a professional. You’re likely to experience blame-shifting or gaslighting, especially if the other member of management isn’t neutral.

Outsmart her.

You can use a “bees and honey” technique if you knowhow to outsmart a manipulative boss, and you don’t mind playing nice while he acts like a complete jerk.

(Video) Is My Boss Manipulating Me? 12 Signs Of A Manipulative Boss | Workplace Issues & Psychology

For this strategy, you’ll need to be super-friendly and compliment your boss to boost his ego.

Manipulative personalities are narcissists sometimes, so feeding their egos might cause them to lay off on the abuse. If anything, it can get you through the day with less stress.

Expose him.

Exposing your boss may be the way to go if you’re not too keen on being nice to someone who spends her time trying to cause you pain and aggravation. Of course, you’ll need to knowhow to expose a manipulative bossto do that.

You can take a passive approach to achieve it. First, notify someone with authority of how your boss treats the staff. Allow that person to plan an anonymous store visit and then conduct business as usual. Your boss will likely hang herself by exhibiting dictatorial behavior while the investigator is there.

Try to ignore the antics.

You can also try to ignore and block out the behavior your boss thrusts upon you. This tactic is usually much easier said than done, but you can try it if you want to extend your workplace stay.


It might be time for you to learnhow to leave a manipulative bossif you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. These are some tips onhow to quit a manipulative boss:

Put in Your Two Weeks’ Notice

The best tip for leaving a manipulative boss is to do it tactfully. Give the boss your two weeks’ notice and write it in letter form so that HR will have it documented. Keep the resignation short and sweet, and thank the organization for giving you the experience.

Work Hard for the Whole Two Weeks

You’ll need to avoid stooping to yourtoxic manipulative boss’s level or coming out of character before leaving. Instead, do your best tomaintain your composureuntil your last day. Ask one of your other supervisors if he or she will provide you with a positive reference in the future.

Leave on a Good Note and Enjoy Life

There’s no need to be hostile after you leave. It might take a while to heal from the abuse you endured, but you can be happy that you no longer have to involve yourself in it. Smile, polish your resume, and find a job that doesn’t employ manipulative bosses.

Read More:

  • What Does It Mean When My Employer Is Not Putting Me On Schedule?
  • How To Explain Leaving a Job Due To Bullying


How do you outsmart a manipulative boss? ›

For those situations, there are techniques you can employ to disarm the manipulators in your life.
  1. Take a step back. Literally. ...
  2. Make eye contact. ...
  3. Call them out. ...
  4. Stay emotionally neutral when dealing with them. ...
  5. Set boundaries. ...
  6. Don't give them a motive. ...
  7. Make them be specific. ...
  8. Don't give them what they want.
Sep 16, 2022

How do you tell your boss is manipulating you? ›

Focussing on your weaknesses

They may use bonuses, verbal praise, encouragement, or even empowering activities to help you grow your skills. However, a manipulative boss will focus on what you are not good at or not doing up to their unattainable standards while completely ignoring your strengths.

What is emotional manipulation by boss? ›

A manipulative boss will always put the blame on you and use that to control your behaviour and emotions. Sometimes, when multiple parties are involved in a certain task, it can be difficult to know whose fault it is when something goes wrong.

How do you react to a manipulative boss? ›

To deal with a manipulative boss, set boundaries, speak up, document everything, stay professional, seek support, and if needed, find another job. A manipulative boss is likely to be deceptive when dealing with their employees. They may lie or omit information in order to get what they want.

How do you outsmart a toxic boss? ›

There are a few approaches you can take:
  1. Give them feedback. Some managers might not be aware of just how toxic their actions are, Casciaro says. ...
  2. Try understanding (not excusing) their behavior. ...
  3. 3. Make other connections. ...
  4. Cultivate self-care. ...
  5. Ask for help. ...
  6. Join forces with others. ...
  7. Get TF out.
Apr 18, 2023

Is your boss gaslighting you? ›

If you are feeling confused about your job, a loss of self-esteem or confidence about your ability to do your job, or uncertainty about your mental health, you might be experiencing gaslighting. The gaslighting experience may also include questioning your memories and even your perception of reality.

What is boss gaslighting? ›

Gaslighting at work involves manipulation by your manager or supervisor, usually to undermine your performance and overall ability to function. The individual could make your day-to-day experience a living hell and, according to BetterUp, cause you to dread going to the office.

How do you prove your boss is sabotaging you? ›

9 Signs Your Boss is Sabotaging You
  1. You are asked to perform tasks with improper training. ...
  2. They try to set you up. ...
  3. They don't provide you with feedback or reviews. ...
  4. They micromanage you. ...
  5. They take complete control of your work. ...
  6. You are humiliated in front of coworkers and managers. ...
  7. They are excluding you from social outings.
Dec 28, 2022

How do you outsmart emotional manipulation? ›

6 ways to disarm a manipulator
  1. Postpone your answer. Don't give them an answer on the spot. ...
  2. Question their motivations. Manipulators often hide their real motivations because they don't like to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviors. ...
  3. Show disinterest. ...
  4. Impose boundaries. ...
  5. Keep your self-respect. ...
  6. Apply fogging.
Jun 23, 2021

Why do bosses Gaslight you? ›

Gaslighting Defined

The goal of the person who uses gaslighting as a management tool is to sow self-doubt and confusion. Doing so allows them to control the employee.

How do you deal with a sneaky lying boss? ›

How to Deal With a Sneaky Boss
  1. Get to Know Your Boss. It's not likely that a toxic boss has gone without leadership training. ...
  2. Be a Stellar Employee Anyway. ...
  3. Be Sure to Document Everything. ...
  4. File a Complaint. ...
  5. Take Care of Yourself.

How do you outsmart a Gaslighting boss? ›

How to deal with gaslighting at work
  1. Confirm that it truly is gaslighting.
  2. Document the gaslighter's behavior.
  3. Get support and focus on self-care.
  4. Meet with your gaslighter.
  5. If all else fails, escalate the issue.
Dec 22, 2021

How do you play with a manipulative boss? ›

You can't change other people, but you can develop skills to protect yourself from being manipulated by others.
  1. Know Your Basic, Human Rights. You have the right to be treated with respect. ...
  2. Keep Your Distance. ...
  3. Have a Backbone. ...
  4. Ask Probing Questions. ...
  5. Do Not Blame Yourself.
Jun 10, 2014

How do you tell if your boss wants you to quit? ›

Here are five signs an employer wants you to quit or that you're in danger of getting fired:
  1. You're being micromanaged. ...
  2. Your workload has been reduced. ...
  3. You're excluded from important meetings. ...
  4. You're being ignored. ...
  5. Your efforts aren't recognized.
Nov 21, 2022

How do you prove a toxic boss? ›

Signs of a toxic boss
  • Jealous of their team's success.
  • Constantly concerned about competition or workplace “enemies”
  • Often take credit for other people's work.
  • Constantly compare themselves to others.
  • Consider their self-worth to be solely driven by their latest results.
Mar 22, 2023

How do you tell if your boss is testing you? ›

13 signs your boss is testing you
  • You observe an increase in your workload. ...
  • Your boss expects you to work more hours per week. ...
  • You receive unusual tasks. ...
  • Your manager doesn't respond to your messages. ...
  • They often recommend you to other colleagues seeking advice. ...
  • You no longer receive questions regarding your activity.
Mar 14, 2023

What managers should not say to employees? ›

10 things great leaders never say to their employees
  • “Do what I tell you to do. ...
  • “Don't waste my time; we've already tried that before.” ...
  • “I'm disappointed in you.” ...
  • “I've noticed that some of you are consistently arriving late for work. ...
  • “You don't need to understand why we're doing it this way.

What is it called when your boss talks down to you? ›

First off, it's important to recognize that “condescension” is usually a tone of voice more than anything. Often, the person's words aren't even the problem. It's just an overall sense that you're being spoken down to—like you're a child or a brand new employee who has no idea what she's doing.

What is it called when your boss picks on you? ›

manipulation. But, let's not over-think it. A bully is just a person who tries to repeatedly humiliate and intimidate you. Your bully might be obvious with his intimidation: he will ridicule you, shout at you, or nitpick your work to death.

What is a ghost boss? ›

A “ghost boss” is a boss who haunts your office, though you never see them, never hear from them, and sometimes, you don't even remember that they're there. Like a bad Tinder date, your boss ghosts you when you try to reach out to them, no matter why you're touching base.

Can I sue my boss for gaslighting me? ›

Gaslighting is illegal assuming a victim can prove to the court that such behavior is harassment and/or discrimination. There can and should be legal repercussions for someone who gaslights an employee or colleague.

What is a gaslighter personality at work? ›

These behaviors or characteristics are common among gaslighters, Kilmer says: They regularly avoid taking responsibility and are quick to blame others for their mistakes. They easily criticize others, but when they're criticized, they quickly show rage. They lack empathy for others.

When should you stand up to your boss? ›

You should stand up to your boss in a one-on-one meeting with them – not in front of others. Ideally, you should schedule this meeting during a relative down time in the office, when the boss isn't dealing with some kind of crisis, Dewett said.

How do you know if your boss is emotionally abusive? ›

Signs You Work For An Abusive Boss
  • Micromanages and monitors your work while refusing to delegate.
  • Pressures you to the point that you feel undue stress and burnout.
  • Makes unreasonable demands in terms of work hours, workloads and deadlines.
  • Shows unpredictable, erratic moods so you never know what to expect.
Oct 8, 2022

What does an abusive boss look like? ›

An abusive boss may be condescending, competitive, or downright disrespectful to their employees. In some cases, they may act like bullies, and they might lose their temper (or sense of control) in the workplace.

How do you know if you're being watched at work? ›

Monitoring Notifications

If you receive notifications from your employer that they are monitoring your computer activity, this is a definite sign that they are watching what you're doing. Employers may send these messages via email or pop-up notifications on the computer.

How do I protect myself from a vindictive boss? ›

How to deal with a toxic boss: 7 tips
  1. Make the decision to stay or go. The first step in dealing with a toxic boss is to make a realistic decision about whether to stay or go. ...
  2. Do the work: Don't be a target. ...
  3. Don't get drawn in. ...
  4. Don't gossip. ...
  5. Keep detailed records. ...
  6. Don't derail your career. ...
  7. Remember, it's not forever.
Sep 7, 2020

How do you tell if you are being set up at work? ›

What to Look For If You Are Being Set Up For Termination
  1. Your boss starts expressing unhappiness with you. ...
  2. You get written up. ...
  3. The write ups escalate. ...
  4. You get excluded. ...
  5. You get demoted. ...
  6. Meetings are canceled. ...
  7. You get set up for failure. ...
  8. It all works together.

What are the 4 stages of manipulation? ›

The 4 stages of manipulation
  • Flattery. The first stage is when the person who manipulates puts on a facade of being kind, caring, and helpful. ...
  • Isolation. This is when the person who manipulates may start to isolate you from your friends and family. ...
  • Devaluing and gaslighting. ...
  • Fear or violence.
Apr 15, 2022

What are the 8 signs of emotional manipulation? ›

9 Signs of Emotional Manipulation
  • They undermine your faith in your grasp of reality.
  • Their actions don't match their words.
  • They are experts at doling out guilt.
  • They claim the role of the victim.
  • They are too much, too soon.
  • They are an emotional black hole.

What do manipulators fear? ›

The manipulator may feel stress and anxiety from having to constantly “cover” themselves, for fear of being found out and exposed. The manipulator may experience quiet but persistent moral crises and ethical conflicts, and may have a difficult time living with themselves.

Why do bosses try to control you? ›

Controlling management often stems from insecurity, distrust or inexperience. For example, they may be feeling pressured by their supervisors or it might be their first job in management. Understanding what causes them to act can help you predict their actions.

How do I confront my boss about unfairness? ›

Reporting an Employer for Unfair Treatment
  1. Keep it focused. Don't list every problem you've ever had with the company; focus on the illegal conduct. ...
  2. No legal buzzwords. Don't use legal terminology you don't fully understand. ...
  3. Be constructive. Identify what you would like to see changed. ...
  4. Avoid threats.
Dec 28, 2020

What to do when your boss treats you differently? ›

You can approach your manager and express your feelings. It is possible that your manager needs to be made aware of what's happening. He may not see how his actions are affecting you. If your manager has a superior, you can approach that person and express what's happening to them.

What to do with a vindictive boss? ›

Try one or more of these tips to find some common ground with your boss—or at least stay sane until you find a new gig.
  1. Make Sure You're Dealing With a “Bad Boss” ...
  2. Identify Your Boss' Motivation. ...
  3. Don't Let it Affect Your Work. ...
  4. Stay One Step Ahead. ...
  5. Set Boundaries. ...
  6. Stop Assuming They Know Everything. ...
  7. Act as the Leader.
Jan 24, 2022

How to deal with a psychopath boss? ›

7 tips for dealing with a psycho boss
  1. Determine what you're dealing with. Is your boss just having a bad day, or is he like this all the time? ...
  2. Get everything in writing. ...
  3. Stop and take a breath. ...
  4. Know and avoid the triggers. ...
  5. Use communication strategies. ...
  6. Don't let it derail you. ...
  7. Escalate if necessary.
Aug 2, 2017

How do you turn the table on a gaslighter at work? ›

How To Turn The Tables On A Gaslighter?
  1. Confront them. Most abusers will stop once they know you're aware of what they're doing. ...
  2. Don't Let Them Change The Topic. ...
  3. Collect Proof. ...
  4. Understand Their Perspective. ...
  5. Validate Their Experience. ...
  6. Show No Reaction. ...
  7. Set Firm Boundaries. ...
  8. Walk Away.
Dec 20, 2022

How do you take power from a manipulator? ›

8 Ways To Deal With Manipulators
  1. Ignore everything they do and say. ...
  2. Hit their center of gravity. ...
  3. Trust your judgment. ...
  4. Try not to fit in. ...
  5. Stop compromising. ...
  6. Never ask for permission. ...
  7. Create a greater sense of purpose. ...
  8. Take responsibility for yourself.
Mar 15, 2015

How do you know if your boss doesn't value you? ›

15 Surefire Signs Your Employer Doesn't Care About You
  • They don't respect your PTO. ...
  • They don't ask for your input. ...
  • They don't give constructive feedback. ...
  • They don't give you the resources or support to be successful. ...
  • They don't pay you fairly. ...
  • They don't respect your work-life balance. ...
  • They don't share project outcomes.
Mar 21, 2022

What does quiet quitting work mean? ›

Quiet quitting doesn't actually refer to quitting a job—it means completing one's minimum work requirements without going above and beyond or bringing work home after hours. Jeremy Salvucci. Updated: Feb 28, 2023 2:34 PM EST.

How do you tell if your boss is unhappy with you? ›

Here are seven revealing signs that your boss just isn't that into you and what to do about it.
  1. You're Being Micromanaged. ...
  2. You Never Get Feedback. ...
  3. You Get Turned Down for a Raise Without Much Explanation. ...
  4. You Can't Get Your Manager's Attention. ...
  5. You're Left Out of Important Meetings.

How do you outsmart a gaslighting boss? ›

How to deal with gaslighting at work
  1. Confirm that it truly is gaslighting.
  2. Document the gaslighter's behavior.
  3. Get support and focus on self-care.
  4. Meet with your gaslighter.
  5. If all else fails, escalate the issue.
Dec 22, 2021

How do you expose a manipulator at work? ›

Here are tips for resolving a conflict involving a manipulative coworker:
  1. Show respect by conducting the meeting in a private place.
  2. Address the problem clearly and directly.
  3. Explain how the other person's behavior is affecting your work or wellbeing.
  4. Describe how you would like your interactions to be.
Mar 10, 2023

What to do when your boss is gaslighting you? ›

How to Handle a Gaslighting Boss
  1. Make a record of conversations.
  2. Take notes when they instruct you to do a task.
  3. Copy emails to team members when appropriate.
  4. Don't confront your boss directly. ...
  5. Minimize direct contact.
  6. Seek a position in another department.
Mar 8, 2023


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