3 Signs Your Toxic Boss is Undermining Your Self-Esteem

June 19, 2019 Sam Woolfe

A toxic boss affects your self-esteem because, for many people, the workplace is a large area of their lives that affects their self-esteem. When you work in a healthy work environment, this can give you opportunities to build your self-esteem. If, on the other hand, you find yourself spending five days a week working with a toxic boss who tries to bring you down, then you may find yourself plagued by self-doubt and self-criticism. One of the most difficult things you might encounter in your career path is a bad boss – the kind of toxic boss who you dread seeing each day because you know those encounters will dampen your mood and hurt your self-confidence. If you’re worried that your boss is undermining your self-esteem, look out for the following tell-tale signs.

1. Your Toxic Boss Micromanages You

Toxic bosses might micromanage employees. Micromanagement is a leadership style in which a boss closely monitors and controls the work of employees. If your boss micromanages you, then he or she may constantly peer over your shoulder to check up on you, obsess over minor details, and give you detailed instructions for every task you do. A micromanaging boss can impact your self-esteem in all sorts of ways. For example, working under this kind of manager can give you the impression that you’re not skilled enough to work independently and that you can’t be trusted.

2. A Toxic Boss Gives Constant Criticism

Constant criticism can also chip away at your self-confidence and make you doubt whether you’re cut out for the work you’re doing. If your boss wants to have a chat with you about every mistake you make, this can give you the impression that you’re failing at your job and that you lack the abilities to achieve progress in your career. But a boss can behave in ways even more toxic than this. Criticism can sometimes turn into workplace bullying, which may involve insults, put-downs, and verbal abuse. As a result of this kind of mistreatment, your self-esteem may plummet.

3. Your Toxic Boss Never Gives You Any Praise

In order to build self-esteem, it’s necessary to gain a realistic picture of your personal qualities and abilities. Sometimes, it helps to get an outside perspective on what you are really like as a person, especially since we often undermine our self-esteem ourselves. However, if your boss never praises you for your achievements, then you may struggle to develop self-confidence in the workplace. Your toxic boss may prevent you from seeing your true potential. Ideally, you want to work for a boss who is balanced and forthright in their managerial style, and dedicated to helping you flourish in your role. This requires praise where it’s due.

Your boss may be undermining your self-esteem due to his or her own insecurities. Whatever the reason may be, though, you don’t deserve this kind of treatment. You should know whether your boss is damaging your self-esteem and have an action plan on how to deal with the situation. If you can’t manage or Human Resources can’t resolve the issue, sometimes it’s best to leave your toxic boss behind and find work that benefits your mental health and personal growth. This sort of change can be challenging, but in the long run, it may be worth it.

Tags: toxic boss

APA Reference
Woolfe, S. (2019, June 19). 3 Signs Your Toxic Boss is Undermining Your Self-Esteem, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Sam Woolfe

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May, 15 2024 at 12:01 am

Hello, I resigned from a toxic workplace with boss who was demeaning and disparaging every single day. I was broken in my self confidence and ability. I feel so relieved that I finally left. I would benefit from never beginning to work there.

May, 16 2024 at 4:33 pm

Thanks for sharing this experience! While the decision to start or leave a job is big, such decisions also contain much power. It sounds like you chose to face that difficulty with courage and empower yourself by leaving a workplace that was not conducive to your mental health. I'm glad that you recognize the role mental health plays in our lives. I hope that you find a job that is both rewarding and meets your mental health needs. Please continue turning to HealthyPlace for trusted information on mental health.

June, 28 2019 at 5:54 pm

Hi K, it sounds like you had a chance to really flex your self-advocacy muscle. I'm sorry it took three years to recover from this situation, and I'm glad you are now able to remind others that abuse is never okay.

June, 26 2019 at 3:00 am

I had a manager who praised me in public to my staff team and management team, behind my back he undermined me to a point I began to work more and more hours including weekends. He basically broke me down. It took nearly 3 years to rid the memories of this really horrible time. I urge anyone who has similar experience to report to HR or Union. Don't put up with this sort of behaviour.

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