Your employers are supposed to be the biggest support in your workplace. While you may work under them, their encouragement is important to help you move forward and to feel motivated. Most employers understand that and treat their employees as such.
However, some employers do not understand this. And they make their employees feel unimportant and incompetent. This is often the case in toxic workplaces; it could be a while before you understand what is happening.
At first, it may seem like your employer has a bad phase or is under too much pressure. Many employees feel that it is temporary and will blow over. However, a time comes when you realize that your employer has singled out you or a couple of other employees and deliberately made you feel unimportant.
Being made to feel incompetent is not a good feeling, and you will soon start questioning yourself. It will also hinder your performance, and you will suffer from low esteem. Hence, it is important to identify the toxic traits when you are made to feel incompetent and learn how to deal with them.
Signs That Your Boss is Trying to Make You Feel Incompetent
A toxic employer will try to make you feel incompetent in several ways. They may show these signs together or on different occasions. Here are some of them.
- Your boss will constantly criticize you. No matter how small the error is, they will make a big deal out of it and tell you that it was utterly your fault and you are not good at your job.
- Your boss will try to humiliate you in front of your coworkers. They will criticize you in front of them and behave rudely toward you.
- Your boss will not praise you when you do something good but will praise your other coworkers when they do the same work. They will make out that it was not a big thing that you did something good in your work- that is just something you are supposed to do and deserves no special praise.
- Your boss does not want to listen to any of your input. Whenever you have a suggestion to make, they shoot you down. Or worse, they will take your idea but give you no credit for it and later claim it as their own.
- Your boss will not call you to important meetings; even if they do, they will not listen to your feedback. They may also try to cut you off if you make your point. They may also cancel any meetings they have set up with you at the last moment.
- Your boss may ask you to redo your work repeatedly and give you no explanation for it. They may simply tell you it was shoddy work and it is not good enough but will offer no reason or constructive criticism in return.
- Your boss will not give you the promotion that has been due for quite some time. You may see your coworkers getting timely promotions. Still, when it comes to you, you are always given some reason as to why you deserve the promotion, and it is deferred without any adequate reasons.
- Your boss may deliberately give you a difficult project or task but will not give you adequate resources so that you can do it well. It will seem like they want you to fail, and you are criticized when you do not perform well, even though it was not any fault of your own.
- Although very few employers do this, your boss may try to put you in a challenging position to see how you react to a difficult situation like this. If this goes on for a short time, then it is self-explanatory. However, if the behavior continues for a long time, it is toxic.
- Your boss may want you to feel incompetent, so you leave. If your boss is insecure about how well you are doing, and you might usurp their position one day, then they might want to leave and just engage in bad behavior with you so that you quit.
Reasons Why Your Boss May Try to Make You Feel Incompetent
Several reasons your boss may try to make you feel incompetent. Identifying the reasons can help you come up with better solutions to deal with them.
1. Your Boss is Insecure
One of the biggest reasons your boss might try to make you feel incompetent is because they are insecure. They see you as a threat and that someday, you may try to throw them over and take their position.
To deter you from doing so, they feel criticizing you would make you feel bad about yourself, and you would stop trying to do better.
Some bosses are deliberately harsh at first to propel you to a path of success. They are often old-school in their thinking, assuming you would try to do better to make your boss feel happier and to achieve their praise.
They may try to make you feel that you are no good so that you work harder and learn more skills. Sometimes it works, especially if this is for a short duration. However, prolonged derision is often to the detriment of the employees.
3. Aggressive Personality
If you feel that your boss is being mean to you and some other coworkers, they might have an aggressive personality. They may behave like this with quite a few employees, and there might be nothing personal against you.
For that, you need to keep an eye out whether your boss only behaves like this with you or with others as well.
4. Company Culture
At times, the company culture is so toxic that it brews insecurity in your boss. All the managers are used to treating their juniors like this, which is what everyone else has gotten used to.
That may affect your mental well-being in the long run, so you need to consider whether you would stay in a workplace that promotes such toxic behavior.
5. You Won’t Ask for a Raise
Sometimes, employers use bad behavior as a ploy so that you do not ask for a raise or promotion, which helps them save money. If your boss makes you feel incompetent, and you start believing it yourself, then you will not ask for a raise or a promotion.
They will try to ingrain you that you are not worth better pay and will be happy with what you are offered, working harder than ever without being asked to be compensated.
Also Read About: How Often Should You Get a Raise? (7 Tips That Work)
Steps to Take When Your Boss Makes You Feel Incompetent
Instead of simply tolerating negative behavior from your boss continuously, you must try to figure out why your boss is trying to make you feel incompetent and what you can do to stop it. Here are some ways.
1. Evaluate Their Behavior
One of the first things to do is to evaluate their behavior. Do they behave like this just with you or with everyone else? In that case, there might be nothing personal.
Try talking to your coworkers and seeing their thoughts, though you should be careful who you can trust. It should not seem like you are talking behind your boss’s back.
2. Evaluate Yourself
The next step is to evaluate yourself. Could it be that your boss is harsh on you because you are behind in some areas? Try to evaluate yourself and check if you can learn any new skills.
Try getting a certification and check how updated you are. Also, make sure you arrive on time at work. Have you been keeping up with your deadlines? Do you recheck your work for mistakes? It would be best if you did not give your employer any reason to complain to begin with.
3. Improve Your Performance
There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your performance if that’s what it takes for your boss to start appreciating you. You could learn about some new project management tools or read more about your work. Ask your boss whether you are fulfilling your role properly.
If you do not have clarity about your work, you are bound to make mistakes. The next time your boss says something negative, ask them what you can do to set things right and fulfill your responsibilities.
4. Understand the Management Style
Not all bosses and managers are the same. If your boss has a unique management style, you must also try to look at things from their perspective.
You may not agree with all they have to say, but you should still try to learn as much as possible and pick up signals about how they do things and think.
Try to have more conversations with them to clear up any confusion and to ensure both of you are on the same page about things. Aligning with your boss will show them you are putting in more effort.
5. Ask for Feedback
If your manager is making you feel incompetent, then you must ask for direct feedback from him and see how you can improve. That way, your boss will let you know about any expectations they may have from you. They will see your eagerness to improve and may offer you constructive criticism next time.
Ask them if there is any training program you may attend to improve yourself. Suppose they are willing to provide you with the necessary information and go on being unnecessarily mean to you. In that case, you can speak to HR or a senior manager about it.
6. Keep Performing Your Best
Although it can be difficult, try not to let the negativity affect you. You cannot let someone’s negative attitude affect your work. You must strive to do well, and if it gets too much for you, you can speak to a therapist to take care of your mental health.
Try to take breaks and engage in something you love after work to keep the tension and pressure at bay and look at things from a new perspective, channeling your anger into something more productive.
7. Be Assertive and Calm
One of the best ways of making a stand is to be assertive and to remain true to yourself. If you are sure that you are doing your best and you are doing your job well, then there is no reason to let someone bully you.
Try to make your point even if you are repeatedly told to take a back seat. Keep making good presentations and excelling in your work while remaining calm and polite with your boss.
Do not enter into an altercation with your boss, but be the pillar of strength amidst the chaos your boss is trying to create. You are sure to come out stronger.
8. Prepare Counterarguments
If your boss makes you feel incompetent, you should prepare counter arguments to refute them logically. Do not be aggressive, but rather, be methodical when you present your case. If they find fault with your work, make corrections immediately to set things straight.
If you find that your manager has made a wrong claim, then refute them point by point. You can call them out for their action and their inappropriate claims. Point out how you are adding value to the organization.
9. Build a Support Network
Sometimes, some toxic bosses try to single out employees who do not have a support network. Try to be on good terms with your coworkers so that even if your boss behaves badly with you, you have a support system who can validate your achievements to the higher authorities if the need arises.
You must be on good terms with others so your boss cannot further use the opportunity to corner you and make you feel alone and unwanted by the entire team. If you have others supporting you, and you keep doing well, the other senior managers will notice that not everyone has a problem with you.
You need to remember that no one can make you feel incompetent if you are sure about yourself. If you feel your boss is toxic, do not look at them for validity alone. It would be best if you tried to feel good about your work and keep improving yourself.
The best way to get back to a toxic employer is to show them they were wrong not to trust you. At the same time, keep making a record of your boss’s behavior; if it becomes too much, you could consider speaking to someone higher up in the company about it. Or, you could consider looking for another job. Have faith in yourself; in the end, everything should work out for the best.