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We all want to be liked at work — especially by our bosses.
These are the people who make decisions regarding our promotions and pay raises, formally review our performances, and usually play a significant role in our overall happiness and success at work.
So if they don’t like you, you’ll want to know so you can try to turn things around. However, that’s not always so easy.
“If your boss doesn’t like you, they’ll likely keep it to themselves, as they understand the need to keep the relationship professional and to not play favorites in the office,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage.“ “So the signs may be quite subtle — but they are usually easy to spot if you’re looking for them.”
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” says you don’t have to be best friends with your manager, “but you can achieve optimal creativity and success if you feel that you’re liked, supported, and respected by them.”
Here are 20 subtle signs your boss secretly hates you. Of course, a boss who does these things could just be a terrible leader. But if you notice you’re the only victim of these behaviors, it probably means they don’t like you.
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to this story.
If you feel like your boss doesn’t like you, it could just be in your head. But it can also be true. If they treat you very differently than everyone else, you’re probably not their favorite person. Trust your gut and continue looking for other signs if you have a strong feeling about this.
When they don’t include you in big decisions related to your sphere of influence, it may be because your boss doesn’t trust your opinion.
“When you’re asked for input, it sends the message that you are valued, so not asking for input can, of course, send the opposite message: ‘I really don’t care what you think!’” says Kerr.
It’s difficult for a boss who is angry to look you straight in the eye, says Taylor. “They’re afraid that you may be able to detect hostility, so the path of least resistance is for them to look away or avoid being around you wherever possible.”
We’re not talking about the occasional bad day or mood swing. If your boss make a conscious effort not to smile when you’re in the room, something isn’t right.
Bosses micromanage for a number of reasons: a need for assuming constant control, or insecurity at some level, for example. “But it can also mean they don’t trust you,” Taylor suggests. “In some cases this can even lead to mild bullying behavior, where the boss is so consumed with monitoring your every step that it begins to feel like a form of intimidation.”
If you notice that your boss only takes the stairs when you’re waiting for the elevator, or they manage their schedule in such a way that they rarely overlap with your primary work hours, that’s a good sign they’re avoiding you.
If your boss doesn’t say “Good morning” when you arrive, or, “Have a great night” on their way out, they may be telling you they don’t like you, says Taylor.
If you ask, “How’s it going?” and they always respond with “Ok” or “Fine” — or if their emails to always get straight to the point, and never begin with a friendly “Hello” or “Good afternoon,” this may be a sign they’re not a huge fan of you.
“If your boss sounds like a moody teenager, then that’s a pretty big red flag,” says Kerr.
Whether it’s a subtle eye roll, constantly assuming a closed-off position with arms folded across their chest, or they don‘t look up from their computer screen when you enter their office, your boss’ body language will often reveal their true feelings towards you, Kerr says.
If your boss doesn’t like you, they’ll probably try to limit their in-person communication with you. If you notice a shift toward more digital correspondence, that’s a sign.
If your manager has an office and their door is always closed, they may be trying to tell you something.
If your boss shuts down every idea you pitch or disagrees with everything you say (but doesn’t seem to do this with others), that’s a pretty good sign they secretly hate you.
If you notice that your boss speaks with everyone else about their kids or hobbies, but never brings up these topics with you, they’re probably just not interested in hearing about your life, says Kerr.
If your boss only gives you menial tasks well below your level of experience or competence — such as “busy work,” it’s a sign they don’t trust or respect your abilities (or worse, that they are actively encouraging you to look for work elsewhere), says Taylor.
A boss who wants to help you grow will provide feedback — good and bad. “But an absence of any feedback shows complete indifference towards your performance and your future growth as an employee,” says Kerr.
Openly criticizing your efforts or ideas in a meeting is a huge sign of disrespect. If your boss goes out of their way to embarrass you, chances are they don’t like you.
Friendly teasing with employees is often done to show that you are part of the team, that you’re “one of us” — so when a boss never feels comfortable including you in friendly ribbing, it may be a sign they don’t care for you.
“Now some bosses do this even with employees they like, but if your boss really doesn’t like you, they may loathe the idea of giving you any credit for your work or ideas,” Taylor explains.
“It’s Monday morning and the high-visibility project you were assigned on Friday has magically been given to your now-gloating office cube neighbor,” says Taylor. “It’s not uncommon for disorganized bosses to occasionally reshuffle projects, as discouraging as that is for any employee. But if you notice this happens frequently, or is just part of a string of unkind moves by your now chilly manager, it’s a bad sign.”
If your boss seems disinterested in what you have to say, or loses patience easily while talking to you, they probably just don’t like you very much.