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9 Best Books on Dealing With Manipulative and Toxic Bosses

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A toxic boss can turn your dream job into a job of drudgery.They can lower morale, reduce productivity, and make work life a nightmare. Confronting a toxic, manipulative employer can be hard, but with these books, you can learn how to keep these abusers in check.

Crazy Bosses

Author: Stanley Bing

Average goodreads rating:3.62/5

In Crazy Bosses, Bing uses his own experience, corporate history and the experiences of others to answer a question you may be asking yourself every day as you head into work: ‘’Am I crazy?’’ ‘’No, it's most likely your boss’’, writes Bing.

Bing outlines five forms of dysfunctional leadership: the bully, the narcissist, the paranoid, the wimp, and the disaster hunter (a self-destructive amalgamation of multiple misjudgments and misbehaviors). Of course, it could be that your boss is a hybrid with traits from more than one group. Each chapter opens with a list of the various character traits and features of each boss type and ends with recommendations that can reduce workplace torture.

Surrounded by Bad Bosses

Author: Thomas Erikson

Average goodreads rating: 3.38/5

Thomas Erikson, a bestselling author, and behavioral expert, has helped changed how the world views human behavior using a simple four-color personality analysis system (DiSC). In Surrounded by Bad Bosses, he uses the same system to revolutionize the workplace.

Everyone has had a bad boss at some point in their career. You might be working for one right now. You could even be one. Bad bosses are a fact of the modern workplace ─ some are unclear about expectations, some are short-tempered, while other may too disorganized to manage even a stapler. But how do you not only survive a challenging boss, but also help your career thrive in an unfavorable environment?

Surrounded by bad bosses will help you deal with your employer more effectively in any situation, based on his behavioral profile in the DiSC system. Erickson provides case studies and concrete steps to help you thrive in any work environment.

Of course, as much as we like to blame our bosses, management isn't always the source of the problem. Some employees are lazy and this is why Erikson examines the issue from the perspective of employees and explores why some coworkers often underachieve, and as a boss what you can do to remedy this situation.

Surrounded by Bad Bosses (And Lazy Employees), written with Erikson's trademark wit and warmth, will assist you in dealing with the most hopeless employees and bosses you can imagine—while also entertaining you along the way.

Working with the Self-Absorbed

Author: Nina W. Brown

Average goodreads rating:3.85/5

In the workplace, narcissists take credit for others' work, exaggerate their own accomplishments, and demand an endless supply of favors from their coworkers. This book gives practical tools for handling the narcissist's destructive behaviors while also ensuring that your own work gets the appreciation it deserves. Whether the narcissist in your life is your boss, a coworker or someone you supervise, this book can help. Realistic strategies for changing expectations, not taking things personally, responding constructively and deciding when it's best to ignore despicable behavior are suggested.

Nina Brown is an expert on narcissism and has written over ten books about this topic.

Beating the workplace Bully

Author: Lynne Curry

Average goodreads rating: 4.1/5

Beating the workplace bully is a valuable resource for people who have the misfortune of suffering from a bullying boss’s manipulative and malicious behavior.

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The author is well-qualified and experienced to assist victims of a workplace bully. She is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources and holds a Ph.D. in social psychology. She also admits to having been the victim of a bullying relationship in the past.

She identifies three kinds of bullying behavior in the workplace:

  • Verbal bullying (offensive remarks, ridicule, slander, name calling).
  • Physical bullying (kicking, threat of assault, pushing, obscene gestures).
  • Situational bullying (sabotage, acts of humiliation or interference).

She describes the behavior, vulnerabilities and characteristics of seven workplace bully types: the Scorched Earth Fighter, the Angry Aggressive Jerk, the Silent Grenade, the Narcissistic Manipulator, the Shape-Shifter, the Wounded Rhino and the Character Assassin.

Most people who have worked in an office of any size will be familiar with at least some of these types. If you identify all of them, you have my sympathy. According to Lynne, people bully for a variety of reasons: because they were bullied as children, as a means of coping with feelings of worthlessness, as a tactic for advancement and job security, and more. Bullies, she claims, seldom quit bullying; instead, they seek out new victims.

The book mixes interesting anecdotes of real-life events with psychological research on the behavior of both victims and bullies particularly as observed in the workplace, followed by step-by-step instruction on how to avoid, limit, or overcome bullying behavior.

The author also discusses the relatively new but increasingly troublesome cyberbullying and concludes with a short review of the law as it relates to bullying.

When I first picked up the book, I believed it was exclusively for current victims of workplace bullying. But now that I've finished it, I see a bigger picture. Everyone with a job or who is looking for one should read it. It will help readers recognize bullying for what it is and provide them with the tools they need to deal with it, whether they are the victims or merely on the sidelines of a bullying incident.

Emotional Blackmail

Author: Susan Forward

Average goodreads rating: 4.1/5

Emotional blackmail is an insidious and toxic form of manipulation in which people we care about threaten to punish us if we do not do what they want. Emotional blackmailers understand how important the relationship is to us. They are aware of our weaknesses as well as our deepest secrets. They could be our partners or parents, our bosses or coworkers, our lovers or friends. And, regardless of how much they care about us, they use this intimate knowledge to secure our compliance which is what they seek.

In Emotional Blackmail, bestselling author Susan Forward dissects the anatomy of a manipulative relationship in order to arm blackmail victims with the tools they need to fight back. She outlines the specific steps readers can take in a clear, no-nonsense style, providing checklists, concrete communications techniques and practice scenarios that will strengthen relationships and break the cycle of emotional blackmail for good.

Coping with Toxic Managers, Subordinates and Other Difficult People: Using Emotional Intelligence to Survive and Prosper

Author: Roy H. Lubit

Average goodreads rating:3.87/5

Many managers engage in destructive behavior that harms their organization, their subordinates, and ultimately themselves. Working with them can be a nightmare, whether they are unethical, narcissistic, aggressive or rigid, or simply depressed and burned out. Furthermore, they may cause severe harm to their organizations by undermining cooperation and information sharing, diverting energy away from productive work, hampering retention of the finest employees, reducing morale, and making bad business decisions.

In Coping with Toxic Managers, Dr. Roy Lubit, an organizational consultant and psychiatrist, shows you how to increase your emotional intelligence and protect yourself and your company from the devastating influence of toxic managers. While many psychologists and organizational consultants employ psychological insights in their work, Dr. Lubit's background in organizational behavior, psychiatry, and organizational consulting offers a basis for unique insights.

The author lists 27 case studies, each describing a different type of psychological profile (e.g., narcissist, opportunist, unethical, paranoid, etc.) as well as a difficult situation (e.g., burnout, alcoholism, etc.). In each case, the author describes the symptoms and negative effects, explains the likely causes and most importantly, offers practical advice on how to deal with the situation. He also suggests additional scientific and literary sources for further investigation of a given topic.

This book is a practical guide for those who work with difficult people, whether they are superiors, subordinates, or colleagues. The advice provided is intended to be used on an individual level, as well as by managers or HR representatives who are in a position to address interpersonal problems that arise within their teams.

Bullying Bosses: A Survivor's Guide

Author: Robert Mueller

Average goodreads rating:3.71/5

A bully for a boss makes life a living hell. It makes you feel drained, exhausted, helpless, and powerless. Working for a bullying boss is a nightmare. He mistreats you, abuses you, and most importantly, threatens your job. Because you are so stressed at work, you carry it with you everywhere you go, and the stress wreaks havoc on your relationships and your health.

Workplace Bullying walks you through the steps you need to take to reclaim your power. This book begins with the discussion of signs of a bullying boss, why bullying is such a serious issue, as well as how you may have unintentionally put yourself in a position to be bullied at work.

So what you can do to remedy the situation?

For this the book teaches you a number of stretegies─ how to manage your emotions, how to document the abuse, when to stand up to the bully, how to gather support from family, friends, and coworkers,how to report the bully to your employer and how to plan your exit from your job (if that’s what you want) and discusses the benefits and drawbacks of suing your boss.

Finally, this book will assist you in how to recover from workplace bullying.

Who is Pulling your Strings?

Author: Stanley Bing

Average goodreads rating:3.62/5

This book lays out a comprehensive plan to assist you in breaking free from manipulators and regaining control of your life. Millions of people, both men and women are in relationships with manipulators ─ people who use emotional manipulation, insults, and mind games to gain power over others. These toxic relationships damage the victim's self-esteem and make life difficult for them. Dr. Harriet Braiker shows you how to stop the destructive pattern once and for all, whether the manipulator is a family member, a spouse or love partner, a boss, coworker, or subordinate, or even a trusted friend or adviser.

Dr. Braiker will teach you how to: recognize the signs of a manipulative relationship; assess your own vulnerability to manipulation; use effective resistance tactics against manipulators' efforts; extricate yourself from manipulative relationships that aren't changing; and lastly protect yourself from falling victim to manipulators' ploys in the future.

Brutal Bosses and Their Prey

Author: Harvey A. Hornstein

Average goodreads rating: 3.56/5

According to experts, up to 90% of employees have worked under an abusive employer at some point throughout their careers. Psychotherapist Harvey Hornstein has looked at this crucial global topic by interviewing over a thousand working men and women. Brutal Bosses reveals: - The distinction between abusive and tough bosses - The Six Survival Skills you need to survive an abusive boss - The Eight Daily Sins of bosses - How to recognize the many sorts of brutal bosses — from Dehumanizers and Blamers to Manipulators and Conquerors. This was a nice book, though a little out of date. He wrote the book based on research and the business climate in the mid-1990s. Today, it's still applicable. However, I'd want to see an update.

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