Career Advice

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

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 discuss bosses who lie and manipulate you and what to do if you get stuck working for a person like that.

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 the bosses who lie and manipulate.

These are some of the feelings and experiences you might have if you work for a manipulative person:

You Feel Like You Can Never Do Enough

Bosses who lie and manipulate tend 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 with everything you 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.

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 a horrible situation 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.

Read More: 10 Signs Your Boss Is Two-Faced and How to Deal With Them

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

Gaslighting is 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 manipulate quickly shift the blame to their targets. The people they hurt with their behavior are the same ones they blame for it.

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. In short, he is treating you differently than others.

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 biggest signs your boss is two-faced is 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. He might say 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.

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-to manipulative 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 for bosses who lie and manipulate is 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 know how to outsmart a manipulative boss, and you don’t mind playing nice while he acts like a complete jerk.

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 know how to expose a manipulative boss to 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 learn how to leave a manipulative boss if you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. These are some tips on how 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 your toxic manipulative boss’s level or coming out of character before leaving. Instead, do your best to maintain your composure until 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.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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