Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College:
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Dealing with a Difficult Supervisor

No one is perfect, and everyone is entitled to a bad day now and then. But if you have a difficult boss, you may feel like you have to walk on eggshells every day to prevent problems. The tension of waiting for something to go wrong can sap your belief in your own abilities, and combined with the symptoms of your psychiatric or mental health condition, it can make every workday feel like a waking nightmare.

Wondering how to deal with a particularly difficult supervisor? Here are some suggestions:

  • Meet with a job coach, who can help you determine whether your work style, communication skills, etc. are contributing to the problem, and work with you to improve matters.
  • Arrange to meet with your supervisor to find out what s/he expects and needs from you, and talk about how you can meet those expectations and needs.
  • Keep a detailed written record of any problematic interactions. When did it happen? Where were you at the time? What did your boss say to you? How did you respond? What happened next?
  • Don’t blow up, slink away, or whatever else you instinctively do when people are angry at you. Losing control makes you look bad, and walking away makes you look like you’re challenging your supervisor’s authority. If you’re cursed at, threatened, physically or sexually harassed, or otherwise being treated abusively, take your written record of the event to both your company’s personnel department and your boss’s manager.
  • If you think your treatment is due to your psychiatric or mental health condition, get familiar with your rights under the ADA.

Here are some resources that can help you understand your rights:

Regulations of the ADA:
Information and Technical Assistance on the ADA:
Additional resources:
Other topics of interest:

The Disability Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice may also be helpful.

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section – NYA
Washington, D.C. 20530  (202) 307-0663

NOTE: The information contained in these pages is for educational purposes only, and is not legal advice. Individuals should contact the appropriate legal resources for specific legal advice regarding their particular situations. 


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