Employees prefer to avoid direct communication when coping with an abusive boss, but researchers said Wednesday they have found that this is the least effective tactic in terms of emotional well-being.

Confrontation is the best strategy for managing stress when dealing with an abusive boss, according to a new study.

"Abusive supervision is highly distressing for employees. Our study shows that the strategies being used by employees to cope with the stress caused by such behavior do not lead to the most positive outcomes," said Dana Yagil, a professor from the University of Haifa. Yagil is the study’s lead author.

Researchers wanted to determine the effect of the different coping strategies on employee well-being, and they examined five types of strategies used for coping with abusive treatment: direct communication with an abusive boss to discuss problems, using different types of ingratiation like flattery or favors, seeking support from others, avoiding contact with boss, and mentally downplaying the abuse.

The study included 300 participants, and researchers asked them to rate the frequency of experiencing abuse from a supervisor like ridicule, invasion of privacy, rudeness and lying. Study participants were also asked to rate the frequency of engaging in each of the five coping categories.

Researchers found that abused employees mostly turned to avoidance and seeking support when coping with an overbearing boss, and were less likely to utilize the strategy of direct communication.

Researchers said that the combination of avoidance and seeking outside support resulted in employees experiencing more negative emotions, while communication with the supervisor resulted in more positive emotions.

It is understandable that employees wish to reduce their contact with an abusive boss to a minimum," says Yagil. "However, this strategy further increases the employee's stress because it is associated with a sense of weakness and perpetuates their fear of the supervisor."

Researchers also said that the study showed that managers should be attentive to signs of employee detachment because it could mean that their own behavior is being considered offensive by employees.