Handling a Stupid Boss

Due to a combination of bad decision making and too much trust in people’s potential, teams and organizations often end up with a stupid boss in charge. It’s not uncommon for them to exist even in reputable corporations, which take pride in the quality of their management.

A stupid boss is a person in a managerial position who does not have the level of intelligence required to do their job well. They have trouble understanding intricate realities, they can’t follow complex logic with more than two variables involved, and they simply don’t get it.

Handling a stupid boos takes, in my view, a special set of people skills. It also requires using intelligence to combat unintelligence. Here are the most important ways to handle a stupid boss.

1. Intimidate them with your intelligence

If you prove a stupid boss that you’re simply smarter than they are, they will often feel a bit threatened and try to sabotage you. However, if you prove them that you’re a lot more intelligent than they are, than they will be really afraid to mess with you. Who knows what you can do to them and their comfortable managerial position?

Do not hesitate to use various opportunities and prove a stupid boss that you are so smart you’re out of their league. Use big words and intricate reasoning when talking with them, and act like this is the standard for you.

2. Do it your way, and then explain yourself using complex logic

The big problem with a stupid boss is that they’ll often make stupid decisions and then ask you to implement them. When this happens, say you’ll do things according to their decision, and then do them according to yours.

When your boss asks you why you’ve disobeyed them, explain yourself using words and logic that are above them. Say something like: “I was backtracking my steps on the CRM process and I realized a divergent approach with this report would emphasize the project’s collateral benefits in terms of ROI.”

Then watch them stare blankly at you. They have no idea what you said, but they don’t want to look stupid either, so they won’t acknowledge this. Vanity is common in stupid people. They’ll probably just say: “Aaa, OK. Well next time, do things like I tell you to”. Agree, then next time repeat the same process.

3. Appeal to their emotions

Since a stupid boss is not able to follow complex logic, it is often best to push their emotional buttons in order to influence their decisions. When you propose them the implementation of a certain project, don’t bother to try and persuade them with arguments.

Instead, tell them something like this: “I went to talk to Tim (your boss’s boss) about this project and he thinks it’s a great idea.” If it’s important for your boss to please Tim, that’s all you’ll need to convince them.

4. Use simple logic, simple words

If you truly feel the need to convince a stupid boss using logic, facts and arguments, then strip them to their bare essentials before using them. It’s a reflection of malleability and good people skills. Imagine you’re talking with a caveman who is not familiar with big words and advanced logic: “This… line; this… circle”.

Simplicity is king when trying to persuade a stupid boss. Try anything above that and you’ll lose them. Then all you’ll hear from them is: “I don’t find your arguments compelling enough” (translation: “I have no clue what you’re talking about”).

Last but not least, keep in mind that no matter how good your people skills for dealing with a stupid boss are, it’s always better to deal with a smart one instead. So if you often find yourself needing to trick your boss using your superior brainpower in order to get your way, maybe it’s time to look for another job.

Image courtesy of Arno & Louise Wildlife


  1. I find playing with their emotions gets the job done. Put yourself in your boss’ shoes. Remember, you both share the same goals: looking good, and making more money, so whatever you say make sure you have that in mind. What can you do that benefits you, and also helps the both of you make more money?

    • I think people generally react well to emotional motivators. We are emotional creature more than rational ones. Plus, with a stupid boss, the rational part is almost out of the equation.

  2. I really appreciate this article. At first I was expecting to read tips on how to be “nice” and “fair” to a stupid boss; instead, it gave much more useful tips on how to manipulate the situation to get done what you need to get done. I love it!

    Thank you for always providing insightful and useful truths.

    • Thanks Stephanie. I generally don’t encourage people to be very nice. Being polite is good, but you can easily go top far with it and it becomes a way to sabotage yourself.

  3. you are a little mean…which is good nowdays as long as you are not too mean

  4. Probably the best way to describe my boss is “antiquated ” and reluctant.

    Usually wants to do the minimum. Doesn’t want to invest resources or time while expecting favorable outcomes. Cuts corners, what have you. Sacrifices significant long-term objectives instead favoring short-term “gains”. Which, ultimately lend to more work/effort and more spending.

    Always in a hurry. Never has time. Doesn’t have planning skills. Inefficient organizationally. Adheres to the status quo. Won’t make necessary adjustments to the the way of conducting his opperation seldomly welcoming changes that would likely be benefitial or, at least ideas being tested.

    When suggestions or viewpoints are shared they are seldomly considered. This boss does not understand the differece between giving a directive and sharing, suggestions and discussion of ideas (for his consideration).

    Things that are complex in nature are highly intimidating. Does not have an appreciation for intrinsic value. Associates costs with less revenue acheived. Does not undertand what the costs of “not doing” is.

    Much of the time we eventually end up doing what I suggested from my perspective only after failing with his “ways” first. I actually deem it part of my responsibility to present what I know and my perspectives. If I do not, I am not doing my job.

    Does not prioritize….

    Message to bosses:

    Teamwork. It isn’t about you or me! It’s about us. What we can achieve TOGETHER. When your help presents ideas and perpectives, the aren’t necessarily orders or demands! They are suggestions for CONSIDERATION.

    What is the cost of not doing something??? Including (but not limited) to spending. If something costs $700.00 and spending that amount is going to contribute to you increasing productivity five or ten times the amount spend, doesn’t it simply make sense to cut to the chase making the investment to be more profitable.

    I am so sick and tired of these silly insecurities, reluctance, hesitation and competition over whom is “right”. A better question is, what is right. Rather than, whom.

    And have a little pride in your work. How can you expect someone to put forth their best efforts to achieve excellence when you don’t even have enough respect for yourself to put for the effort to do better.

    Employees struggle to perform enthusiasitically when their work is virtually meaningless. Many of us here our here to be your asset. Why behave in ways that are a liability to you and those around you attempting to particapte in common objectives and the goals of your company.

    If neither of us is performing our responsibilies, then none of us need be complaining about the inferior results achieved or just how difficult it is to succeess.

    Stupidity and stubborness are a dangerous combinaton. Your attitude goes a long way being successful in life as is mine.

    A little bit of patience goes a long ways too. Taking the necessary time usually proves to taking less time in the long run leading to more desireous outcomes for everyone!

    Give people space to work and do their job! If employees can’t be trusted, it may mean that you do not trust yourself. Being successful in life requires taking some risks and trying new things.

    Sometimes they work out. Some times the don’t. Or, at the very least parts of different ways of doing things can be combined the oftentimes prove complementary.

    Also, people have the amazing capacity to think for themselves which, can and does contribute to the success of the whole organization if and when the motives are true.

    Thank you for your time listening.

  5. “Vanity is common in stupid people.” That quote has really made me confirm my doubts. 🙂

  6. Gregorio Aglasi says:

    The fact that I searched and read this article is that I am probably having problem with myself or my boss.
    I previously had intelligent bosses and they often helped and mentored me get my job done. However, time’s changed and I had a boss I called dumb and lazy. I dealt with it by just going with the flow. I survived a career nightmare; almost got a self-destruction with frustration. Now, I have a boss who’s less experienced and I feel the need to teach him every time. I need to explain everything in details.
    He’s not a total idiot. He wants things to be done and completed but he is clueless on how to do them. He can identify problems but he doesn’t know how to solve them. He just waits for someone to solve the problem. And then grabs the credit for himself (as the boss).
    I just do what I need to do. I use tips 3 and 4 a lot (like, your boss, who is our boss, wants this and that, doesn’t he? So, we’ll do this and that… This graph is for this, and this graph is for that… logically, this is the preferred solution, isn’t it?…There are no arguments, I always win or all my ideas are approved instantly; without a single cell of my boss’s brain used for thinking or analysis…) . At some point, I may need to use tips 1 and 2, and dazzle him to ambiguity and complexity.
    I pity him when he looks like a fool during meetings. So , I prefer to keep my mouth shut sometimes; I don’t intend to hurt other’s ego. At times, I come to his rescue to save his face. I don’t want to be mean, but I need to be sometimes (under controlled circumstances though, because it could cost me my job).
    I really can’t believe wasting much of my energy and people skills just to handle my boss well. Until now, I feel like I have a trainee.

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