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When Your Boss Is a Hypocrite

Follow these tips to get the clear and honest truth.

Key points

  • Hypocritical bosses say one thing and do another.
  • It’s frustrating when you cannot take what your boss says at face value.
  • Ask direct questions and take care before accepting your boss’s promises as dogma.
  • Try to look at things from your boss’s side, recognizing that you may be approaching the same situation from different angles.
Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Hypocrites are two-faced double-dealers who purposely misrepresent or mislead you. Hypocritical bosses are sneaky. You can’t trust them. They pretend to be your good buddy, but you have to find out from a reporter, seeking your reaction, that the program you direct has been cut out of next year’s budget. Or the boss suckers you into creating a detailed report that might earn you a promotion. Once she reads it and realizes how good it is, she replaces your name with hers, claiming the work product as her own, so that she can get praised by the head executive.

Another favorite tactic of hypocritical bosses is that they take facts and figures out of context or quote nonexistent studies and authorities. Led astray, you draw incorrect conclusions. The only thing you can depend on from this type of boss is that they will actually do the opposite of what they pretend to be doing.

What You’re Thinking

I trusted the boss. I can’t believe she’s out to get me demoted. But she said one thing to me about the new section when we reorganized and then took a diametrically contrary position when she spoke to Harry. And from what I can make of this email, it looks like Harry’s version was right. I can draw only one conclusion. The boss is a hypocrite.

A Hypocrite’s Thoughts

Why is Molly acting so upset? She knew we were going to reorganize. I told her that. She made the decision years ago to become a specialist instead of a generalist. That’s her problem. I have now reached a conclusion about what has to be done with the division. I’m sure I need a generalist to head the new section. I’ll make it up to Molly some other way.


Your goal is to get a straight answer from your boss so that you know where you stand and can plan accordingly. Before you assume that the boss is out to get you, you need to find out what’s making him act that way.

  1. Ask questions that require direct answers. The boss may not realize that he has wronged you or hurt you. When he spoke to you, it may have sounded definite to you and inclusive to him. But, as a result, the great expectations he built you up for led to a letdown, and he was indeed insensitive to your feelings. Next time, smile as you ask if that’s a definite plan.
  2. Protect yourself in the future. Don’t accept everything your boss tells you at face value until it’s confirmed in writing or announced before other people. Once you’re convinced the boss has made a definite deal with you, publicize it so that he’ll have difficulty backing out. Send an email to your boss that highlights your understanding of what’s to occur. If appropriate, copy others who will be involved in any way to create an electronic paper trail.

Tip: Find some goals on which you agree. The boss you see as a hypocritical snake may be a scaredy-cat who lacks the courage to tell you face-to-face that she’s decided on changes because a situation became more difficult than anticipated. You’re likely not the only one who’s been impacted by such behavior. Understand your boss’s flaws and take steps to work around them.

Copyright© 2022 Amy Cooper Hakim

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