Fewer things hurt more than being betrayed by someone you trust. When that person is your boss, the pain can be amplified.

Whether your boss took credit for a project you spent months on or shamed you for someone else’s mistake, such betrayals can hinder your ability to trust others and accurately judge situations.

While you may not be able to change your boss, you can keep his or her bad behavior from harming you. Here’s how:

Hold fast to your values. If your boss betrays your trust, it’s important to ensure that you don’t unconsciously corrupt your own behavior in response. Research indicates that if your boss behaves badly, you are more likely to follow suit.

Pay attention to patterns of betrayal. It’s common for people who tolerate abusive behavior to eventually conclude they deserve it. You can resist this by detecting your boss’s patterns and interrupting them as much as possible. If your manager takes credit for your work, make sure important stakeholders associate your name with relevant projects.

Remember: Not everyone will betray you. When your boss betrays you, it can be easy to unconsciously conclude that other people are untrustworthy. Be careful not to universalize your boss’s betrayal across other relationships.


Practice forgiveness, not retaliation. It’s natural to want to make your boss pay for his or her betrayal. But you shouldn’t stoop to his or her level. Instead, write down how you feel about your boss’s actions. Perhaps the betrayal made you feel inadequate or exploited. Learning to separate how others’ make us feel from what’s actually true about ourselves is the first step toward forgiveness.

Don’t bury your negative emotions. Trying to keep a stiff upper lip while enduring betrayal can be hazardous to your health. Suppressing strong emotions can manifest in sleeplessness, headaches and general irritability. It’s critical to have an outlet. Journaling, therapy and physical activity can help.

Let purpose offset entitlement and apathy: Two of betrayal’s common side effects are believing you deserve restitution for what you’ve suffered and feeling indifferent toward your work. To avoid those feelings, remind yourself of the passion behind your choice to work in your field.

If you work for a boss who habitually betrays you or your co-workers, get out from under that person as soon as possible. Until then, do whatever you must to protect yourself from hardening into a person you don’t recognize.

(Written by Ron Carucci, a co-founder and managing partner at Navalent.)