45 Bad Workplace Quotes For a Rough Day at Work

Need bad workplace quotes to help you deal with a terrible boss, bad co-workers, and mismanagement? Here are 45 inspirational quotes to help you with a rough day or tough times at work.

Sometimes we love our jobs. Sometimes… we don’t so much. Let’s be real – all of us have had probably at least one bad workplace experience.

Whether it was toxic bosses, bad managers, colleagues who did not carry their weight, or just an office that needed major updating, there’s a ton of different things that can lead to a bad workplace.

If you’ve been on TikTok, you’ve likely seen countless influencers making fun of corporate life.

These influencers have gone viral for a reason – because workplace challenges are things we can all relate to.

The truth is that no workplace is perfect.

We all have things in our work life we wish were different. And that’s something we can all agree on and enjoy.

There’s comfort in knowing we’re not the only ones struggling to get through the workday, isn’t there? That’s where these bad workplace quotes come in.

They’ll remind you that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one out there that doesn’t love their job. They also may give you a chuckle and help you get through the workday.

Or maybe they’ll give you inspiration for your next TikTok vid that could go viral. Whatever the case may be, here’s bad workplace quotes that will make you feel better about your job and potentially even motivate you.

bad workplace quotes

45 Bad Workplace Quotes For a Rough Day at Work

These are the best quotes to keep in mind when you’re having a bad day at work.

“A toxic work environment can destroy morale, undermine productivity, and threaten the success of an organization.” – Howard Schultz

A bad workplace has a lot of bad consequences associated it. It’s more than just employees not being happy (even though that’s really important, too!).

“What can I do to create a healthy work environment? Because we have all been groomed to the normalization of violence and the normalization of abuse. And we refuse to live in that society.” – Jessica Chastain

This quote emphasizes that we need to make sure our workplaces are free of violence and abuse – something that is unfortunately all too common in some organizations.

This quote serves as an important reminder that we must do better and strive to create an atmosphere where everyone can feel safe, respected, and valued

“I strongly believe that you can’t win in the marketplace unless you win first in the workplace. If you don’t have a winning culture inside, it’s hard to compete in the very tough world outside.” – Douglas Conant

Your workplace isn’t going to go anywhere, or be successful, if it’s not successful internally, first.

No matter how much hard work you put into things, the beginning of great work starts on the inside.

“A culture is strong when people work with each other, for each other. A culture is weak when people work against each other, for themselves.” – Simon Sinek

It’s easy to forget that a successful business is built on collaboration, not just individual effort.

A great team can achieve so much more than any one person and having an environment where everyone works with each other towards a common goal is essential for success.

Good leadership is worth working for.

“The best thing that I did was get myself out of an environment that was toxic to me and to my mental health. That was through retiring from football.” – Adam Goodes

He retired from football because it wasn’t good for his mental health! That’s huge. And we’re seeing this more and more in the workplace with people “quiet quitting” and leaving jobs that leave them burnt out and unhappy.

“Failing organizations are usually over-managed and under-led.” – Stephen Covey

Sometimes organizations can be so focused on the details that the big picture gets lost. It’s important to strike a balance between management and leadership if an organization is going to succeed.

“A bad workman blames his tools. A bad employer blames his employees.” – Richard Branson

It’s easy to blame our employees or the tools we use for bad outcomes, but ultimately the responsibility lies with those in charge.

Great leaders have to make sure that our workplaces are designed for success and hold ourselves accountable when things don’t go as planned.

coworkers talking

“Gallup research indicates that there’s approximately $500 billion in lost productivity annually, in the United States alone, due to negative behavior in organizations.” – David Emerald

Woah, $500 billion is A LOT of money. Workers who are happier do tend to be more productive but wow, that is a lot of lost revenue.

“When the boss gets mad and takes it out on you, you will do less work, after all nobody likes to reward bad behavior with a positive response! It’s simple really.” – Anonymous

This is true for both employees and bosses. If an employee is treated poorly, they will inevitably be less productive. It’s important to make sure that everyone in the workplace is treated with respect – it will go a long way towards creating a positive atmosphere where everyone feels valued and can do their best work.

“There is something quite twisted and dangerous about glorifying busy-ness or burnout. Imagine if you were bragging to a friend, “You think you’re depressed? That’s nothing! I’m so depressed that sometimes I can’t even get out of bed, and I consider suicide on a regular basis!”” – Eva Selhub, MD

Can we all just agree that the days of bragging about how late you worked or how you worked through the weekend are over? Let’s stop glorifying bringing your laptop on PTO or working past 5 PM. It’s time for work-life balance to take a front seat, instead. I’ve seen this switch happening lately and I love it!

“People leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses.” – Anonymous

Enough said. A bad bass can make or break the human spirit. It’s unfortunate that we meet people like this in leadership positions but the best thing you can do is show respect to yourself and leave.

“No one wants to follow a pessimist… You can be skeptical, you can be realistic, but you can’t be cynical. If your boss is Eeyore, do you want to work with someone like that? Oh, bother.” – Bob Iger

OMG I love the comparison to Eeyore because it’s such a good one! When you see Eeyore does he make you want to be productive, or does he make you want to crawl into bed and do nothing? A pessimistic attitude is contagious.. and not for the better.

“At work or at home, conflict is a part of life. How do we respond? Sometimes we suppress it by avoiding people, leaving jobs or ending relationships. When that isn’t an option, we may nurse grudges until we can’t stand it anymore, at which time we may explode and engage in fruitless and even embarrassing confrontations. Unresolved conflict takes its toll on us and on our relationships. We can all learn to resolve it better.” – Robert I. Sutton

Conflict is unavoidable, but we can all learn to handle it better. Avoiding it doesn’t help anyone and neither does suppressing or nursing grudges. Good communication skills are essential for navigating conflict in a productive manner – and it’s something that can be learned.

Creating a healthy work environment isn’t always easy, but it absolutely pays off in the long run.

women talking about work

“Emotions, especially in the workplace, often are minimized or disregarded. Most people are uncomfortable with them and find it far easier to assume they know how someone feels than to ask.” – Robert I. Sutton

I do agree with this, but I also think that younger generations are starting to switch this narrative, which is good! Being vocal with your boss – assuming they’re not toxic – about being burnt out is so important and should be top of mind right now for organizations.

“If you listen to people complain about their workplace or family, you will hear much more about disrespectful treatment or lack of fairness than you will about money and safety. At the root of conflict lie unmet needs. Consciously or subconsciously, these needs drive us and motivate our behavior. And when we perceive that something or someone stands between us and fulfilling our needs, we cast them as the villain.” – Robert I. Sutton

It’s important to recognize that everyone has different needs and that a one-size-fits-all approach may not work. We need to create an environment where people feel safe, respected, and heard so they can do their best work.

“We are living in very challenging times. Pressured in the workplace and stressed out at home, people are trying to make sense of their lives.” – Les Brown

Seriously – we’re stressed at work, and we’re stressed with all the things we have to do outside of work like errands, cleaning, cooking, going to the gym, dating, and maintaining a social life. How is it possible to do everything?!

“So what’s the best way to work alongside coworkers with passive-aggressive communication styles? My advice is to always ask politely for clarification if messages are even slightly ambiguous.” – Peter Yawitz

You will run into at least one passive-aggressive colleague during your work life. They’re everywhere. Don’t feed into it. Instead, follow this advice and stand your ground.

“At a minimum, workplace drama causes inefficiency, frustration, and waste. The personal costs to those who work in organizations is immeasurable.” – David Emerald

Crazy how something that seems so small like gossiping at the water cooler on the outside can cause such big damage. It’s worth taking the time to be aware of your team dynamics and try to keep the drama away!

“The cost of drama is tremendous, for any organization. Do a quick online search on “the cost of workplace drama” and you may be amazed at some of the hard dollars-and-cents costs associated with organizational conflict. These costs accrue due to lost productivity, turf battles, infighting, gossip, rumors, picking sides, blaming, faultfinding, absenteeism, turnover, and engaging in what Peter Block has called the politics of manipulation.” – David Emerald

It’s scary to think of how much damage workplace drama can cause. It can sap an organization of its resources, energy, and morale. To ensure a healthy work environment and prevent unnecessary drama, it’s important for leaders to practice empathy, respect, and kindness.

“Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley

It’s so true that if people don’t feel heard, they won’t have anything to offer.

True leaders need to create an open environment where everyone can express their ideas and opinions without fear of judgement or retribution. It’s the only way to ensure that you get the best out of your team.

“I’m now much less of an asset to the company than I could be. I keep my head down and for self-preservation just do my work with little conversation with anyone. Yet the irony is this: in my self-preservation, I’m actually destroying myself. In bottling up my unexpressed feelings, I’m making myself sick emotionally and physically.” – Gary Chapman, “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment”

It’s so important to be aware of your feelings and not bottle them up. You need to take care of yourself and your mental health first, as that is the most important thing. Not only does it damage you as an individual, but it also affects how well you work with others. It’s essential to voice out what isn’t working for you in order to make room for what will.

“We all need support, in the workplace and beyond it. When we both give and receive, we stand a much better chance of survival.” – Gary Chapman, “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment”

Read that again – we ALL need support. You shouldn’t be embarrassed for asking for support when you need it. No one can do things efficiently and successfully on their own.

“When a workplace becomes toxic, its poison spreads beyond its walls and into the lives of its workers and their families.” – Gary Chapman, “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment”

It’s so important to recognize when a workplace is toxic and take steps to avoid it. No one should ever have to put up with an unhealthy work environment that affects their mental health and overall wellbeing.

“No matter what I did, it was never enough.” – Gary Chapman, “Rising Above a Toxic Workplace: Taking Care of Yourself in an Unhealthy Environment”

It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re giving your best effort and yet somehow it still isn’t enough. You need to set boundaries for yourself and know when to take a step back. Don’t ever let someone else dictate your worth – be proud of what you do!

“My keyboard must be broken, I keep hitting the escape key, but I’m still at work.” – Anonymous

This one is just a funny one to make you laugh. I know it gave me a good chuckle! Think of this quote next time you’re typing a long document or you’ve been staring at your computer for too long.

“Don’t let a bad boss break your spirit. You can always quit and find a better one.” – Anonymous

It’s a hard piece of advice to swallow and easier said than done. But one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself is quit the job that makes you feel bad about yourself.

“Bad leaders take all the credits. But never take blame for the mistake.” – Anonymous

Don’t be this kind of leader.

“10% of conflicts are due to difference in opinion. 90% are due to wrong tone of voice.” – Unknown

This is so powerful. It’s not always what you say but how you say it that matters most. Make sure your tone of voice sets the right mood and shows respect to everyone in the workplace.

“You can’t control other people’s behavior, but you can control your responses to it.“ – Roberta Cava

It’s important to remember that you can’t always change other people. What you can do is manage your own attitude and emotions so that you don’t let a bad colleague, toxic work environments, a negative attitude, or other toxic people get the best of you.

“A bad boss is like a disease of the soul.” – Chetan Bhagat

Bad bosses drain your energy and leave you feeling lifeless. If you’re stuck with a bad boss, remember to take care of yourself and try to focus on the positive things that are happening in your work life as well.

“Every leader is a boss, but every boss is not a leader.” – Amit Kalantri

True leadership involves understanding people, inspiring them, and helping them reach their goals. It’s not about being demanding and expecting everyone to do exactly as you say. Make sure you’re a leader that your team can look up to!

“According to many sources, a bad boss is also the number one reason why employees quit their job.“ – Susan M. Heathfield

Surprise, surprise.

“You can be the most productive and most effective, but politics show up as ego, jealousy and sabotage from bosses who can’t perform.” – Richie Norton

Sadly, this is true. A bad boss will attempt to sabotage your efforts and undermine you just because they can’t handle being outshone. Stay away from these kinds of people and just focus on doing your best work!

“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.“ – Anonymous

We really can learn a ton from difficult people. You learn who you don’t want to be and the things you shouldn’t be doing.

“Having a bad boss isn’t your fault. Staying with one is.” – Nora Denzel

This is a hard truth to accept but it’s true. Don’t stay in a job that makes you unhappy – it won’t be worth your while in the long run. Make the best decision for yourself and move on!

“A bad boss brings losses and problems to his organization.” – Bill Courtney

It’s not you, it’s your boss.

“Sometimes you just have to put on lip gloss and pretend to be psyched.” — Mindy Kaling

We all fake it ’til we make it sometimes. Next time you’re worried about a big meeting or you have the Sunday Scaries, tell yourself that even Mindy Kaling also feels this way at times, too.

“All things are difficult before they are easy.” — Thomas Fuller

No matter what it is, nothing will ever come easy at first. Believe in yourself and keep pushing forward even when it’s hard. You can do this!

“Just give me coffee and watch me make it happen.” — Bossbabe

We can do all things once we’re caffeinated, right?

“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life. They have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” — Al. E Gater

This is a great reminder to stay true to yourself and your values. Don’t let someone else’s bad behavior shape the person you are.

“A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” – Barack Obama

Do you notice that he uses the word DESERVES? You should never feel guilty that you need to prioritize your personal life and your family over work. You should always prioritize your family over work. That’s another narrative I think younger generations are flipping for the better.

“You are not your resume, you are your work.” — Seth Godin

This is a great reminder that your accomplishments are only part of who you are. Don’t let your resume define you – focus on the work you do and how it can help you grow as an individual.

“Don’t let anyone dim your light, simply because it’s shining in their eyes.” — Unknown

You have to remember that not everyone will be happy for your successes. And that’s ok. It’s important to stay humble and take pride in the work you do but don’t ever let anyone dim your light – it shines too bright! You got this!

“Take a deep breath. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” — Barry D. Hatchette

Next time you’re having the worst work day, take a deep breath. Step away from your computer or desk while you do it. It can help calm you. Remind yourself there’s so much more to life than just this bad work day.

“If you have ever experienced infighting, such as a team or a department pitting itself against another team or department; if you have ever worked for a micromanaging and overbearing boss; if you have ever navigated the changes that come with a merger or other significant restructuring process, then you have had a front-row seat to organizational drama.” – David Emerald

Organizational drama is all too common and it can be very draining. Stay away from office politics by focusing on yourself and your own work and you’ll be better off.

“Effective teamwork will not take the place of knowing how to do the job or how to manage the work. Poor teamwork, however, can prevent effective final performance. And it can also prevent team members from gaining satisfaction in being a member of a team and the organization.” – Robert F. Bales

Teamwork is essential no matter what industry you’re in. Focus on working together to achieve your common goals and you’ll be more successful in the long run and keep you on the right track.

Do good work an even in hard times, you’ll feel good about yourself as an individual member of society and your workplace, even if you’re in a toxic environment.

talking at work

Final Thoughts on Bad Workplace Quotes

Bad bosses and difficult work situations can be hard to deal with. But, it’s important to remember that these experiences can teach us lessons we wouldn’t learn any other way.

We can use quotes to motivate us when things get tough and remind ourselves of the importance of focusing on our own efforts, staying away from office politics, taking care of ourselves, and being a leader others can look up to.

With these lessons in mind, we can turn a bad situation into an opportunity for growth and success.

The right attitude and mindset can make all the difference when it comes to dealing with bad bosses and difficult work situations. Remembering these quotes is a great way to stay positive even when faced with challenges.

One of the great tings to remember is that you are not a tree – you can leave a bad job. Work is probably going to be a large part of your life for a while and it’s worth working for a good boss – trust me.

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts ’13 and a Master of Arts ’14. She’s currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she’s not working, she’s likely planning her escape to a tropical island.