How to Improve Your Boss' Manners Without Losing Your Job

Bad manners that are merely annoying are one thing, but when your boss’ poor etiquette is affecting the workplace in a negative way, it may be time to take some action. As you’re probably well aware, this is a delicate manner that has to be handled carefully. If you get it wrong, you could set yourself up for a bad relationship with your boss – or worse, get fired for insubordination. If you’re committed to improving your boss’ manners without losing your job, here’s where to start.

See also: How to Disagree with Your Boss Without Losing Your Job

1. Lead by example

When your boss is rude or otherwise displays poor manners, don’t stoop to his level. This is another way of saying "kill him with kindness." Don’t respond with rude behavior when he’s rude to you. If he’s been rude to another employee, demonstrate how you handle it by remaining calm and responding to that employee with respect. The worst thing to do is to get worked up by your boss’ behavior and to be rude, disrespectful or otherwise show poor manners in return.

2. Have a private conversation - at the right moment

The moment that your boss is showing bad manners is probably not the right time to share your thoughts on the situation – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to your boss about it. Choose a time when she’s asking for feedback. Maybe she’ll have an employee review process during which you can share your thoughts. Maybe you’ll have some extra time when you travel together for a conference. Whatever time you choose, make sure it’s when your boss seems to be in a good mood and receptive to feedback.

3. Handle it with extreme delicacy

When you find that moment, don’t just come right out and say something like "you have bad manners." Instead, say something like "I’ve noticed that you do X when in Y situation." Then explain – tactfully – how that affects the business. If your boss comes to realize how his bad manners are affecting the business’ productivity or effectiveness, he may be more likely to change.

4. Go the roundabout route

Then again, if your boss is not the type to respond well to direct feedback about her indiscretions, there are always more roundabout ways of going about it. Try some of the following methods.

5. Suggest changes to the employee handbook

Some bad manners are things you can regulate in the employee handbook. If, for example, your boss is the type to always leave her coffee cup in the community sink, you and the employee relations team could adopt a policy that all employees are required to clean their own dishes or be fined. By having your boss sign off on the changes, it could be obvious that you and your fellow employees want to see some change – while not singling out your boss.

6. Hold an etiquette training for the entire staff

Another way of making changes without singling out your boss is to get an outside authority to issue the new rules. Ask an etiquette expert or a business consultant to come in for a day and give a talk or to spend even more time in your workplace to observe employees’ behavior, including that of the management team.

See also: How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

If your boss’ behavior is affecting the rest of the staff or the productivity of the workplace, it’s worth trying to change it. If you don’t get anywhere, however, you may have to decide whether to accept the poor manners or to move on.