Career Advice

5 Things To Do When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

If you’re in the job of your dreams, you should experience a high level of contentment every day. That’s difficult to do when your boss makes you feel incompetent, however.

According to the American Working Conditions Survey, more than one in five workers experience abuse on the job. The types of abuse they experience include verbal abuse, humiliation, and bullying. When a boss makes an employee feel incompetent, the employee can view the situation as any one of those types of abuse.

Subjecting yourself to negativity and abuse can harm your mental and physical health. Fortunately, you can do something about it. The following information will include details about when your boss tries to make you feel incompetent and what you can do if he or she does that to you.

Why Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

when your boss makes you feel incompetent

Knowing what to do when your boss makes you feel incompetent will require you to understand why your boss makes you feel incompetent. These are some of the top reasons that your boss may be engaging in that behavior:

Your Boss Is Incompetent

One reason your boss might be making you feel incompetent is that he or she feels incompetent. It’s not unusual for bosses to protect their feelings by lashing out at their workers. Alternatively, your boss might make you feel incompetent because he or she feels that you are incompetent.

Read More:

Your Boss Is Insecure

Your boss may also have insecurity issues. Oftentimes, such individuals engage in making their underlings feel insecure rather than dealing with the cause of the insecurity. You can’t do much if your boss chooses that strategy to overcome his or her uncomfortable feelings.

Your Boss Has an Abusive Personality

Unfortunately, you might have a boss who has an abusive personality. Those individuals enjoy humiliating people and making them feel like the entire world could crumble in a heartbeat.

when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme
when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme

A boss like that doesn’t want you to feel secure in your position. Therefore, he or she will continually make you feel like what you do or who you are is not enough.

Your Boss Wants to Motivate You

Your boss could also have genuinely positive reasons for making you feel incompetent but doesn’t know how to execute it properly. For example, maybe your boss wants you to perfect one of your skills so that you can use it to its full potential. He or she could make you feel incompetent to get you to learn more or work harder.

It’s the Company Culture

Your boss might be making you feel insecure because the company culture encourages it. The company may have an “only the strong will survive” outlook about the place. They may prefer that all their workers have incredibly thick skin as well.

As you embark on your journey, remember that you don’t have to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You can choose where to spend your hours working. A job is an agreement between you and a company for you to perform a task and the company to pay you money.

If you are discontent with your job, you have every right to take some actions to improve your situation. You should do that as soon as possible to preserve your mental health and wellness.

Read More: My Boss Treats Me Differently Than Others – Is It Just Me?

Signs Your Boss Thinks You’re Incompetent

Feeling “my boss makes me feel like i can’t do anything right” can deeply affect your self-esteem and job satisfaction. If you sense that your boss thinks you are incompetent, be aware of these common signs.

Your Boss Micromanages You

One of the clearest signs your boss thinks you’re incompetent is if he or she starts micromanaging your work. Your boss may begin checking in constantly, requiring excessive updates, or dictating exactly how you should do your tasks. This excessive oversight signals a lack of trust in your abilities.

when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme
when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme

Your Boss Doesn’t Give You Opportunities

Managers who believe an employee is incompetent often avoid giving them opportunities to take on new responsibilities or high-profile projects. If your boss suddenly stops offering you chances to showcase your skills, it could be a red flag.

Your Boss Communicates Negatively

If you notice “boss makes me feel bad about myself” through negative communication styles, he is certainly trying to make you feel incompetent.

You may notice more criticism, condescension, or disappointment from your boss. Comments that make you doubt yourself or convey an assumption of incompetence all indicate your boss thinks poorly of your abilities.

when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme
when your boss makes you feel incompetent meme

Your Boss Overexplains Things

When your boss thinks you’re incompetent, they often overexplain things as if you can’t understand. Overexplaining instructions, policies or background details you already know well can signal your boss thinks you lack competence.

Your Boss Takes Over Your Work

Managers who believe an employee performs poorly may start taking over that person’s work themselves. If your boss suddenly starts doing parts of your job without explanation, they likely think you are incompetent and can’t handle it.

You’re Left Out of Meetings

Being excluded from important meetings is another sign. If your boss stops inviting you to client meetings or strategy sessions, it may be because he or she doesn’t see you as capable of contributing meaningfully.

Five Things to Do When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent

These are some of the ways you can handle yourself if your boss makes you feel incompetent regularly:

1. Make Sure It’s What You Think It Is

You need to be 100 percent sure that your boss is the one making you feel incompetent. Many times, it’s people’s own insecurities that make them think someone else is putting them down.

Make sure that you analyze the situation one more time and then decide whether your boss did something hurtful or not. You can now advance to the following step if you’re sure that you’re not just engaging in perfectionism or trying to stretch yourself beyond your means.

2. Purge It From Your Mind

Try your best not to take the behavior personally, even if it is what you think it is. As mentioned before, sometimes bosses make their employees feel incompetent when they are insecure. Therefore, don’t internalize anything harsh that your boss says to you.

Try to think of your boss and look at that person with compassion and empathy. That person must be struggling a lot to go out of his or her way to chop you down. Perhaps you can muster some kindness, even though your boss is targeting you right now.

3. Request a Meeting With Your Boss

You can resolve the issue once you confirm that your boss is legitimately messing with your self-esteem and confidence. Try requesting a meeting between the two of you. You can address the issue if your boss agrees to the meeting.

You can meet with your boss alone, or you can request that a third party attend the meeting. Sometimes, meeting participants request additional people so that they can have an eyewitness. That might be a good thing for you to do if you worry that things may get out of hand.

You must explain what it is that your boss does to you precisely. For example, you can mention that your boss jumps in front of you and answers customers’ questions before you. Behavior like that can certainly be problematic if the customers specifically ask you for help or information.

Start your statement with words like, “I noticed that … ” and then end it by asking your boss to explain why. Your boss will react one of three ways. He or she may acknowledge the actions, apologize for them, and then do something to rectify the situation.

Your boss may also react as if he or she has no idea what you’re saying. You could witness that individual having a complete shutdown and denial of the situation. Some people do not want to be held accountable for their actions.

The last response you might see is an abrasive or abusive one. Your boss might try to blame the incident on you in some way, for example. It’s highly likely to happen if this person has a narcissistic or immature personality.

If the last thing happens, you won’t be able to go any further with your boss. You’ll need to take the incident up with another party or let it go.

4. Discuss the Issue With Human Resources

You may go to the human resources department if the problem doesn’t subside. HR sometimes serves as a middle point between workers and the company. They offer solutions to many of the issues that occur in the workplace.

However, you must understand that human resources works for the company, and therefore, they are there to protect the company’s best interests. That being said, your situation might be eligible for a report and reasonable action.

Documentation and evidence will make your case or complaint much more viable. You should gather the necessary documentation for the HR representative before you contact the department. Such documentation may include witness statements, pictures, recordings, and more.

The HR team may handle the situation in a number of ways. It may call a meeting between you and your boss. It may come up with a solution that involves separating the two of you.

Alternatively, the company may dismiss your case or say that you were in the wrong. That is why it’s crucial that you gather all the evidence and documentation and research your situation to see how likely it is that you will win.

5. Start Searching for Another Job

OC Tanner did a recent survey to find out more about why employees quit their jobs. The survey indicated that 79 percent of workers quit their jobs for lack of appreciation. Making you feel incompetent certainly shows a lack of appreciation on your boss’s part.

You have no obligation to stay at your current place of employment if you don’t have a contract in place. That means you can turn in your resignation any time you like and search for a job where your boss won’t make you feel incompetent. Therefore, you can leave the position if you’ve tried all the other avenues and nothing seems to work.

You should now find yourself much more educated about work situations that leave you feeling incompetent. You should also know that it isn’t your fault in most cases. Now you can take the steps necessary to improve your quality of life and move on.


What are some common signs my boss thinks I’m incompetent?

Some clear signals include your boss micromanaging you, no longer giving you opportunities, constantly criticizing your work, overexplaining simple things, taking over your tasks, and excluding you from important meetings.

How should I react if my manager makes me feel incompetent?

Don’t panic or get angry. Have a constructive discussion with your manager to understand their perspective. Suggest solutions like getting additional training or finding a mentor. Stay positive and show you want to improve.

Should I quit if my boss makes me feel incompetent?

Don’t rush to quit. Speak to your boss first and give them a chance to realize your value. Start looking for jobs as a backup. Leaving should be a last resort if issues with your boss persist.

How can I regain my boss’s confidence in my abilities?

Ask for specific feedback on where your boss feels you fall short. Develop those skills by volunteering for projects utilizing them. Consistently deliver excellent work. Eventually your achievements will outweigh any past doubts your boss had.

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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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