33 tell-tale signs your boss is threatened by you
“I think my supervisor is jealous of me. Now what?” Have you ever been in a position like this? If you are a capable and driven professional with leadership skills, then this is an actual possibility.
You are dealing with a person who has some degree of control over you at work. Yet they are actively trying to sabotage you. Essentially, you are dealing with a tyrant.
Unfortunately, this situation can negatively affect your productivity and hinder your career progression. Not to mention the toll it might have on your mental health and personal life.
In this post, I will share with you several signs to look out for if you are suspicious that your boss feels threatened by you and is doing everything that they can to control you and not let you progress in your career.
Also, I will give you the best advice that I have on dealing with your jealous boss effectively.
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Signs your boss feels threatened by you
Here are some classic signs your boss is afraid of you professionally. However, remember that when we are dealing with manipulation and deception at work, we are always looking for multiple signs, not just one.
1. They criticize you a lot
You know you are doing a good job. Yet, try as you may, you will never do anything right. Your boss is always on to you, and it feels like they are never satisfied with your work.
Even the smallest of things can make them go ballistic on you.
2. They undermine you
They try to undermine you and ruin your authority in front of your colleagues and even other executive staff members. They might yell at you in front of other coworkers in an attempt to make you look incompetent.
Remember that this is an insecure person who believes that you are more intelligent than them and able to outperform them eventually. As they say, all anger comes from a place of fear.
3. They micromanage you
Your boss will monitor your every move and try to control you in everything you do.
This is a sign that they always want to be in control of your work so they can keep track of you and block you in case you are about to show some impressive results.
You can take a look at our guide on how to deal with a micromanager at work to gain some additional insights.
4. They are jealous of you
How to know if your boss is jealous of you? This one is tricky. We have a whole guide on dealing with jealous people at work.
But keep in mind that if your boss is jealous of you, this means that your professional capabilities are truly impressive. It is likely that they’d want to use you in some way.
Perhaps when they ask you for advice, they do it in person, with nobody else around. This way…
5. They take credit for your work
Essentially, they are able to present your ideas as their own. They might try to take credit for your work. You see, even though you did all the work, it was all thanks to their brilliant directions and management.
6. They give you low-profile assignments and tight deadlines
Low-profile assignments and impossible deadlines are other signs that your boss might feel threatened by you.
This is a straightforward way for them to try and prove that you are not an essential asset to the team and that the company can ultimately survive just as well without you being a part of it.
7. They discredit your input and achievements
Because they believe you are better than you, your jealous boss will ignore your input and achievements in your daily work.
Regardless of how brilliant your ideas might be, they will not get the light of day. No matter how hard you try to prove yourself worthy, you will not succeed.
If you are beginning to doubt yourself, consider the possibility that your boss is trying to make you feel incompetent on purpose in order to sabotage your professional growth.
8. They hinder your development at work
They will not allow you the opportunity to grow in the company. After all, they view any potential growth opportunities for you as immediate threats to their position in the hierarchy.
9. They gaslight you
Here are a few lines that you may often hear from a manipulative boss or a manager.
- “I never said anything like that.”
- “You are just imagining things.”
- “You are being too sensitive about it.”
- “Why are you overreacting like this?”
Sounds familiar? These are classic lines used by people who want to make you doubt yourself and your own judgment.
10. You experience a work network withdrawal
At a certain point, you might notice that some of the colleagues and even other executives with whom you worked well in the past no longer communicate with you.
At least not in the same way. This is one of the signs that your jealous boss has managed to poison their opinion of you.
11. They try to get you fired
In many cases, the end goal of a boss who feels threatened by you is to get you fired or get you to leave on your own.
Expectedly, they want to eliminate any risks related to you staying in the company. You might want to check our guide on how to deal with somebody who is trying to get you fired.
12. They steal your ideas
You might notice that your boss is dismissive of your ideas at first. But later on, they do exactly what you suggested without giving you any credit.
In other words, they are blatantly stealing your brilliant ideas for themselves.
13. You are restricted from communicating with upper management
It seems that you are never able to discuss matters with other company superiors. Your boss might be limiting your contacts with other key figures in your company to suppress your career growth.
14. Your concerns are never discussed
When you share something that worries you with your boss, they tell you that they will address the matter later. But later never comes. Your problems and concerns at work don't matter to them.
15. Your input is being shut down
It seems that your suggestions are never good enough, especially the ones you offer during team meetings.
Your boss makes sure to explain to everyone why your ideas are not good and why they wouldn't work.
16. They get angry when they interact with you
You can see that your boss gets visibly angry when they have to interact with you. Their facial expression and voice change.
You did nothing to provoke them, but they are being aggressive toward you.
17. You are no longer given important tasks
It seems that your coworkers are being given critical duties. You are never offered a chance to shine, even though, in the beginning, you were doing a pretty good job and achieving great results.
18. They never give you credit for your contribution
During meetings and team calls, your name never pops up when projects and contributions are being discussed.
You did so much work, yet you are barely mentioned – you don't even get as much as a simple “thank you.”
19. Your request for pay raise is denied
You've been working really hard lately and achieving great results, yet your request for salary raise was shut down. This can be one of the most devastating and demoralizing moves that an evil boss could make.
20. Your boss never asks you what you think
Good managers often ask their subordinates for feedback or if they need some kind of help and support.
However, your boss is never concerned about your opinion and needs. In fact, they never ask you anything at all.
21. They avoid you
If your boss feels particularly threatened by you, they might start to avoid you altogether.
They never say hello when they see you at the office, they only speak to you if they have to, and they never message you directly.
22. They throw you under the bus
Your boss blames you for a certain failure at work in front of everybody. And they imply that the responsibility for sad failure is (almost) entirely yours.
You messed up, and now everybody has to suffer because of you.
Whereas you know for a fact that the responsibility is not entirely yours. Here you can take a look at our guide on what to do when you are being thrown under the bus at work.
23. They downright insult you
Your boss makes fun of you in a mean way. Sometimes, they downright insult you in front of other workers. What did you do to deserve such terrible treatment other than work really hard?
24. They try to destroy your confidence
All these insults, mockery, and accusations of incompetence are an attempt to destroy your confidence in yourself. Your boss is trying to make you doubt yourself.
Their goal is to make you believe that you are not a smart and capable professional.
25. Your work is being sabotaged
Your boss is actively trying to sabotage you at work. They give you more work, random tasks and requests, and chaotic deadlines.
There is no logic in their “management” approach. In the end, you are unable to do a good job. And you are the one to blame, according to your boss.
26. Interactions are short and limited
Remember the time when your boss had time for you so they could answer your questions or offer you some advice?
But now your boss simply gives a brief answer or simple instructions. There is no chance for a meaningful conversation.
27. Your boss gets nervous around you
If your boss feels particularly threatened by you, then it won't be surprising if they get somewhat nervous around you. They might start to sweat and stutter a bit when they speak around you.
28. They avoid eye contact with you
No matter what happens, your boss is unable to look you in the eyes. This is a sign that your boss definitely feels some strong emotions toward you.
29. They treat others more respectfully
It seems that none of your coworkers is getting this terrible treatment. Your boss is perfectly capable of speaking to other people in the office without being angry and rude.
This strongly suggests that you are the one who is being treated differently.
30. They talk behind your back
If you have a good relationship with some of your coworkers, then they might inform your that your boss speaks negatively about you behind your back.
You might learn that your boss often criticizes you and your work when you are not present.
31. You are not invited to important meetings
It seems that all the important team meetings where the key decisions are being made take place without you.
You are left at your desk, doing your work, and you learn about a meeting taking place only after it has concluded.
32. They are being passive-aggressive
Your boss might decide to take a more covert approach in order to attack you.
Passive aggressiveness at work is a common tactic to cause psychological distress to others in order to avoid negative consequences.
Your boss might resort to snarky commentary, frowning, eye-rolling, and other gestures that reveal their opinion about you. You can check out our guide on dealing with passive aggressiveness at work.
33. They give you a bad performance review
You've been working hard, and you've achieved good or at least decent results. Yet, your boss gives you a bad performance review and demands more of you. How come?
By giving you a bad performance review, your boss may be able to further stunt your professional growth at the company.
What are some common reasons why you may intimidate your boss?
Let’s consider what circumstances led to this situation. How come your boss sees you as a threat to them? Most likely, it is a combination of several factors. Here are a few examples.
- You are good at your job
- You show leadership skills
- Your boss sees your potential
- Your boss is an insecure person
- Your boss is a bit paranoid
- Your boss is a narcissist
In all cases, you have shown that you are a skilled and capable professional. Your boss may think that if other decision-makers in the company saw what you were capable of, they’d replace them with you.
How to deal with a boss who is intimidated by you
Dealing with a boss who is intimidated by you will not be easy. The instinct of self-preservation is very strong in these people, and they will hardly give up on trying to get rid of you in one way or another.
Still, there are a few things that you can do to “fight back”.
1. Don’t doubt yourself and your professional abilities
Your boss is doing their best to make you think that you are incompetent. In reality, you are probably a lot better than them. That is why they feel threatened by you.
2. Don’t confront them directly
It is possible that they are trying to provoke you by testing your limits. Perhaps they are trying to cause a workplace conflict, and they are confident that they have better odds of winning.
Nothing good will come from a direct confrontation. They will deny everything and try to gaslight you once again.
3. Remain polite and professional
Being aggressive will do you no good. On the contrary, the distribution of power and authority will probably make the situation even worse for you.
So do your best to act in a subservient way around your boss. At least for now.
4. Do things by the book
Do your best to follow best practices in your day-to-day work. This should give your jealous boss fewer opportunities to criticize you.
At the same time, don’t go above and beyond to please your boss. In fact, you can practice a more of a quiet quitting job philosophy so as to reduce your work-related stress.
5. Don’t give them your ideas
Stop sharing your brilliant ideas with this person who doesn’t appreciate you. They are only using you and taking credit for wins that were entirely yours.
6. Use email, group chats, and project management systems to your advantage
Use the shared digital channels to communicate your ideas about work. This way, your colleagues and other middle and upper management staff members will know who deserves all the credit.
7. Shine in team meetings
Use every chance you have to speak up in meetings. You are not voiceless. You are a capable professional. So don’t be afraid to put your thoughts out there.
The reasonable people in the room would want to hear you out and give you the opportunity to speak. Even if your boss is there, they won’t be able to do anything about it.
8. Form workplace alliances
Consider the other professionals that you work with. The people that parallel your position. Your colleagues. With time, you will be able to form workplace friendships.
Such alliances have a strength of their own. Together, you will be able to push back against deceptive, jealous, manipulative superiors.
9. Expose your evil, jealous boss to HR
As a last resort, you can go speak to HR about your incompetent boss. Yes, they are incompetent if they are actively sabotaging their subordinates because of their insecurities.
Make sure to bring forth any evidence that you might have acquired with time, such as emails and DMs.
It would be best if you do this together with one or several team members who have noticed the unethical behavior of your boss.
On another note, all this attention you receive from your superior might mean something else entirely – for example, your boss may actually be attracted to you.
10. Unwind after work
Dealing with a jealous and manipulative boss at work can be quite stressful. You might find yourself overwhelmed with rumination after work.
That is why it is important to leave your worries in the office. Take a look at our comprehensive guide on how to avoid rumination and unwind after work properly.
11. Leave your toxic workplace
If all else fails, you might want to quietly start looking for other job opportunities. If you are a capable professional, then surely there is something much better for you out there.
In the meantime, you can check our guide on how to leave a toxic workplace without drama.
My advice on dealing with a boss who feels threatened by you
Remember that you should always look for a cluster of behaviors and signs that confirm your suspicions when it comes to a boss who may feel threatened by you.
Also, a direct confrontation would be pretty much pointless. If your boss has the foresight to see that you could replace them, then they have probably considered how to respond if you decide to confront them directly.
The most important thing for you is to move past self-doubt. Your boss might be trying to brainwash you, so you might think you are the problem. But if you are confident in your professional abilities and you see the obvious signs, then you shouldn't doubt yourself.
With regard to the fact that you are dealing with your own set of circumstances, revisit the “how to deal with” section above and carefully craft an action plan. But in all cases, don't tolerate this situation for too long – you are not voiceless! Take action!
Frequently asked questions about dealing with a boss who feels threatened
Can I address the issue directly with my boss if I feel they are threatened by me?
Absolutely! It's essential to have open communication, especially in tricky situations like this. Schedule a private meeting with your boss and approach the topic gently. Focus on expressing your concerns and understanding their perspective. Remember to stay calm and professional, and be open to finding ways to work together more effectively.
How can I continue to perform well without making my boss feel threatened?
It's a bit of a balancing act, but you can definitely do it! Keep up your good work, but also make an effort to involve your boss in your successes. Share credit when appropriate and show that you value their guidance and expertise. Foster a collaborative environment by seeking their input and opinions, and make sure you maintain open lines of communication.
Should I involve HR if my boss's behavior becomes problematic due to their feeling threatened?
If your boss's behavior is negatively affecting your work environment or career growth, it may be necessary to involve HR. Before taking that step, try to address the issue directly with your boss and give them a chance to improve the situation. If things don't improve, document any problematic behavior and bring your concerns to HR, focusing on the impact on your work and well-being.
Can I ask for a transfer or a different supervisor if my boss feels threatened by me?
It's certainly an option if the situation becomes unbearable and other attempts to resolve the issue haven't worked. However, consider the potential impact on your career and relationships within the company before making this decision. If you do decide to request a transfer or change of supervisor, approach the conversation professionally and focus on your desire for a more conducive work environment.
Is it common for bosses to feel threatened by their employees?
While it's not ideal, it can happen. Some bosses may feel insecure or threatened by employees who excel or possess skills they don't have. In these situations, it's crucial to maintain open communication, find ways to collaborate effectively, and seek support from colleagues or HR if necessary. Remember that your goal is to foster a positive work environment where everyone can thrive.
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