Why most people dislike their bosses

BOSS – Bunch Of Superiority Syndromes”! Well, I still remember this hilarious full-form a participant had shared with me during a workshop I was conducting in my early days in the domain. Since then, the full-form hasn’t left my memory – partly because of its high recall-value (courtesy the humor) and partly due to the irony it represents. Isn’t it amazing? Sometimes the very people who are supposed to help us ‘bring out the best in us’ become the biggest hindrance in that process.

Let me ask you something. What kind of boss are you? – Instructing or Inspiring? Nitpicking or nudging? Dominating or delegating? Enquiring or empowering? And don’t go by the feedback you got in annual appraisal, because everyone is smart enough to mellow the language to soften the pinch. So to help you introspect, let’s ask the fundamental question – why do most people dislike their bosses? Well, before we discuss the answer of this question, watch this video to get the gist of the matter…



Yes. Every person craves to maintain some degree of autonomy. We all need a little space, scope and margin – for feeling our identity…to prove our individuality. Every person wants to exert at least some control on his or her environment, have a say in the matters, and exercise the right to choose. That’s why, when they sense a lack of self-control or find themselves unable to influence the outcomes of their actions, stress and anxiety builds up inside them. Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.

If we will look at our brain then we will find that our brain is akin to a pattern-recognition machine which, to ensure our survival, works on the policy of ‘minimizing danger and maximizing reward’. Now, as we are social animals, and ‘how we are socially placed’ has an impact on our survival, our brain treats our social needs in the same way it treats our basic needs like food and water. One of these social needs is autonomy – desire to have a sense of control over events in one’s environment.

When our brain senses that our autonomy is getting curbed, it comes up with a threat response. And during the threat response, our brain’s intelligence center Prefrontal Cortex has lesser resources available for executive functions. Yes, literally there is less oxygen and glucose available for the brain functions involved in working memory. So if a boss will micromanage or control a subordinate then a threat response will get activated even inside the subordinate.

As a result, in the immediate term, subordinate’s effectiveness and accuracy in the cognitive tasks will decline; and in the medium term, subordinate’s morale and sense of belonging will also get hurt. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed. This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s understanding of the structure and operation of human brain, and how they influence people’s responses and decisions.

This coming together of neuroscience and psychology forms the basis for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“Every person craves to maintain some degree of autonomy”.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence (www.socialigence.net) offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.