Bad Boss BS: “I didn’t say that…”

What do you do when a boss backtracks or denies giving specific direction?

Four astonished looking 2d characters stood close, but slightly apart from a 3d bad boss character

“No, I didn’t mean that”

Some decision denial happens because of bad communication. The boss doesn’t think they’re changing their mind, because they’re not. They just didn’t manage to communicate the initial decision clearly and so in re-stating it, it looks like the decision has changed. It’s another example of a boss with a big, old blind spot.

“No, I didn’t say that”

There’s a difference between a boss communicating so poorly they need to restate decisions and directions vs. denying they said or meant a thing which was clear and/or confirmed.

Feedback

Lying is not appropriate in the workplace. And luckily lots of workplaces give you the chance to collect evidence. Just like with a boss who isn’t communicating clearly, clarifying what a boss has said can be useful with a “deceptive decision denier”. It creates an evidence trail. If your boss is prone to decision denial, confirm directions and decisions in writing and ask them to correct you if you’ve misunderstood.

Find another boss

A boss who lies about decisions on a repeated basis is a terrible boss. They’ll undermine your confidence in the organisation and your contribution. They leave you second guessing everything. That makes it harder to do your job. And there’s always the chance that if they need to lie about you to survive, they’ll throw you under the bus to save themselves. So maybe, a lying boss is one of the red lines that suggests we should move on and find a new boss.

Please share

If you’ve got an experience of bad decision making behaviours when bossing, or more examples or strategies of lying bosses and what to do, please get in touch and share.

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danramsden

I'm a Creative director at the BBC. I like words, design, data and magic. These are all my own views (apart from retweets. I borrowed those to look clever.)