How to Stand Up to Your Boss

If you’re looking for advice on how to stand up to your boss without getting fired, then this introduction is for you. This article will briefly go over the different methods of standing up to your boss, and what might happen if you decide not too.

It is important to stand up for yourself and your beliefs. If you don’t, you will be bullied by your boss. This article discusses how to stand up to your bully boss.

How to Stand Up to Your Boss

There aren’t many areas in society where obvious hierarchies remain – at least not overtly. However, the workplace is one among them. The boss is in command, and he or she has the authority to direct their staff what to do.

In an ideal world, and most of the time, there isn’t a lot of friction in this power dynamic. Managers and supervisors typically don’t need to do much “telling” in the first place; their subordinates understand what’s expected of them, know what they’re supposed to do, and just do it. When supervisors must issue “orders,” they are justified in light of the workers’ positions and obligations.

However, sometimes supervisors overstep their bounds, “asking” their staff to perform things that seem unjust or irrational, or to carry out ideas that they strongly oppose.

Perhaps your boss asks you to work late or on weekends too often, gives you duties that are outside of your job description, fails to follow through on a commitment, or assigns you to undertake a project that you believe will fail.

What should you do if you find yourself in a scenario like this?

Try challenging your supervisor.

Many people will be terrified by the prospect of participating in such resistance, since they fear they may be fired. However, you may defy your boss’s demands in a manner that not only won’t get you fired, but also has a strong possibility of improving your relationship’s respect and communication.

Here’s how to do it.

Determine if a request is actually unreasonable. Before you decide to refuse to do anything you’ve been requested to do, consider if it’s reasonable and/or worthwhile. Here are a few things to think about before making that decision:

  • Is the request considerably different from your job description, the company’s norm, customary procedures, or real workplace norms and laws? Are you being exploited in any way? Is the problem a pet peeve, a personality clash, or just an aspect of the job? You should acquire the lay of the land before taking the job to create proper expectations for what is feasible in your area of work. When a potential employer gives you a job, find out how frequently you’ll be asked to work weekends or evenings, and make sure you understand your duties.
  • Do you intend to remain in this position for a long time? If you believe you’ll be in and out soon, it’s probably best to simply put your head down and wait. If, on the other hand, you like your work and want to continue with the firm for a long time, it’s probably worth resolving the problem.
  • Do you have any credibility? The more time you spend on the job, the more value you provide, and the more power you wield, the more your opinion will be taken into account. If you’re the sort of indispensable employee your employer doesn’t want to lose, your supervisor is more likely to listen to you.

If your employer asks you to do something outrageous at a job you’d want to maintain for the long haul and you’re feeling up to it, go ahead and refuse the request.


Set the bar high from the start. For the reasons stated above, if you’re asked to perform anything less-than-desirable early in your career, you don’t want to make a fuss since you haven’t yet earned the authority to do so; others will just wonder, “Who does this uppity novice think he is?”

Even so, it’s a good idea to start by hedging your answer and introducing the possibility of restrictions. If your supervisor asks you to work on the weekend, you may answer, “I won’t be able to work other weekends due to family responsibilities, but I can work this weekend.” “Even though I don’t believe my skill set is best suited to this kind of project, I can surely handle it this time,” or “Even though I don’t think my skill set is best suited to this type of project, I can definitely handle it this time.”

Then conduct the type of high-quality, dedicated work that will raise your profile and worth, allowing you to create the limits you’ve previously mentioned afterwards.

Make an appointment to discuss your problem. Let’s imagine your supervisor didn’t receive the memo and continues to make excessive demands. It’s time to speak to him or her after you’ve reached your own “breaking point.” However, don’t attempt to corner them in the hallway, and don’t bring up the subject during a team meeting; if there’s one thing bosses despise, it’s when someone questions their authority in front of others. You may be tempted to bring up the matter through email in this time of rising social anxiety; if at all possible, avoid it. It consumes more time, demonstrates a lack of confidence, and exacerbates misconceptions.

Instead, request a face-to-face meeting with your boss to discuss your concerns. A one-on-one encounter will be less intimidating and enable your supervisor to focus entirely on you. “I was wondering if you had time today/this week for a brief meeting; I just had a few questions concerning your recent request/the new project,” you may remark.

Proceed with caution. Having an angry attitude, even if you’re trying to disguise it, can trigger your boss’s flight-or-fight response and make him defensive. Act cool and collected; strive for assertiveness, which is the middle ground between aggression and passivity.

Inquire for further details. The idea that each individual knows everything about the other person’s side of things is at the root of many disagreements between managers and workers (and everyone else!) (and that their own side is objectively right). However, there are always gaps in one’s comprehension of others. Instead of rushing into your boss’s office to dispute or prove a point, opt to “examine each other’s experiences,” as the writers of Difficult Conversations put it. Make it a two-way conversation in which you can both express your concerns and explain where you’re coming from.

Determine any gaps in your comprehension of your manager’s point of view. “I’ve been wondering why I’ve been asked to work so much overtime recently,” you could remark, only to be told, “Well, the fact is that a hiring freeze has been placed in place until the new budget is worked out, which has left us short staffed.” I apologize for the inconvenience, but I hope you will bear with me for a little longer.” You may also say something like, “I’ve been startled by the amount of drafts you’ve requested on this paper; it seems that you don’t trust my work,” and get a response like, “I can understand that.” My own manager, on the other hand, was taken aback by the final proposal presented to this customer the previous time, and wants to know where we are at every stage of the project. We won’t generate a profit in Q4 until we secure this account.”


If you’re hesitant about a concept you’re supposed to adopt, Difficult Conversations advises stating something like:

I really hope that this project succeeds, but I am not yet sure in my capacity to accomplish so. It would be especially helpful if we could explain out how we would respond to a number of the concerns I can see coming our way. For instance…

Three things may happen if you start a line of discourse like this:

  • Your supervisor may uncover some flaws in the plan while attempting to communicate it to you.
  • You’ll have the chance to ask gentle follow-up inquiries such, “I understand X.” But it’s Y that I’m having difficulties grasping. “Could you elaborate on why you’ve chosen to…”
  • You, too, may alter your view about the idea’s practicality.

More information should be shared. Sections of your boss’s side of things may be hidden from you, and he may be unaware of parts of what’s going on on your end. Share those bits and pieces.

“My wife has been working the night shift recently, so we’ll have to find a sitter for the kids if I have to work nights as well.” “When I accepted this employment, I was under the impression that I would be working on X projects rather than Y.” “After the Z department was halved, I began receiving reports on Fridays rather than Tuesdays, making it difficult for me to provide my analysis to you by Monday morning.”

It’s easy to think that your boss understands why something is essential to you, but he may not; your problem looms large because it’s your only major concern, but he may be dealing with the concerns of a dozen other workers, in addition to his own.

Make your statements in such a manner that they reinforce your boss’s authority. Instead than fighting human psychology, work with it. Humans are viscerally protective of their social standing. So, instead of seeming to overrule your boss’s authority, bring up your concern with him in a manner that accepts it. This is an example from the writers of Difficult Conversations:

I understand there are several aspects to consider, and at the end of the day, I support whatever decision you choose. I simply want to make sure you’re aware of the following as you consider it…

Make a link between your problem and the boss’s advantage. To really persuade your supervisor to alter their opinion about anything, focus your worry on how their policy or request affects you personally, rather than how it affects their immediate or long-term bottom line. “Checking in on my work regularly makes it difficult for me to get into a creative flow, and the end output is less unified than it might be.” “I genuinely want to continue in this profession for a long time, but the long hours are beginning to wear me down.” “Due to the tight deadlines, I’m rushing to finish the graphics, making it more difficult to discover flaws before they’re published online.”


As a request, provide specific solutions. Prepare concrete remedies to your problem before speaking with your supervisor. Ascertain that these alternatives are likely to be mutually agreed, then submit them as a request. “I realize that more hours will be required to complete this assignment on schedule. But, instead of working in the office, might I work those additional hours from home?” “It would be easier for me to provide the reports to you on Tuesday rather than Monday.” Is it feasible for you to postpone the deadline?” “Tim has indicated that he is available to work for me on Saturday. Is it all OK if we switch shifts?”

Decide what you’ll do if you can’t come to an agreement. If you and your manager can’t come up with a mutually accepted solution, you’ll have to determine what to do next based on your options: HR is a good place to start. If the issue affects other workers, you may form a group and approach your manager as a whole. You may just soldier on if you need to maintain your job at any costs.

You may refuse to stand down and suffer the penalties if you don’t care about retaining your job. Even if you use this approach, the authors of Difficult Conversations recommend that you “explain why you are going away.” What are the interests and concerns that the solutions you’ve been discussing don’t address?” They provide a hypothetical situation in which an employee, Henry, is requested to work the weekend by his employer, Rosario, despite the fact that he has plans with friends and has given her early notice that he would not be available. Despite Rosario’s rejection of Henry’s offered solutions to the situation during a debate, Henry chooses to take the weekend off. Nonetheless:

Henry should express his views, interests, and choices rather than just storming away. ‘Rosario, I really apologize,’ he would say. I want to be an excellent employee who contributes whenever possible. I’m usually willing to work weekends and evenings – I’m sure you’ve seen that in the past. It’s only a question of taking attention. I’m sorry for keeping you in the dark; nevertheless, these plans are very important to me, and I gave you plenty of notice and worked hard all week to ensure that I could leave. So, even though I don’t like the option, I’m going to take it.

If you don’t have to, there’s no need to destroy bridges. “As frequently as not, he may return to discover Rosario is both dissatisfied and more respectful of him and his time,” Henry says.

When bosses realize they’ve crossed a boundary, they may apologize and modify their ways after you’ve spoken up to them properly.

If they don’t, you may want to consider how long you want to work for them and start looking for a new employment.


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  • How to Handle Your Friends and Peers Like a Boss
  • How to Resign from a Job (Without Burning Bridges)
  • 30+ Self-Assessment Questions to Ask Before Quitting Your Job
  • How to Deal with an Unfavorable Job

There are many ways to stand up to your boss, but the most effective way is telling off your boss. This will show them that you have a backbone and won’t let them walk all over you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to stand up to your boss?

A: It is not OK to stand up to your boss. You will have a difficult time getting away with this, so you should try and work around the problem by talking about it calmly. To be safe just dont do anything that could cause any problems in the office!

How do you stand up to your boss without getting fired?

A: That depends on the situation. In most cases, being a good employee without causing problems is a great way to not get fired.

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