- Vancouver Film School/flickr
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. But 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 that 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 22 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 that you’re the only victim of these behaviors, then it probably means they don’t like you.
You’ve got a bad gut feeling
If you feel like your boss doesn’t like you, then 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.
- Flickr / David Wall
They never ask you for input or involve you in key decisions
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.
- Eje Gustafsson/flickr
They can’t maintain eye contact with you
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.”
- Jesse Millan/flickr
They don’t smile around you
We’re not talking about the occasional bad day or mood swing. If your boss makes a conscious effort not to smile when you’re in the room, then something isn’t right.
- Vancouver Film School/Flickr
They micromanage you and only you
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.”
- Emilio Labrador/flickr
They avoid you like the proverbial plague
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, then that’s a good sign they’re avoiding you.
They don’t acknowledge your presence
If your boss doesn’t say “Good morning” when you arrive, or “Have a great night” on their way out, then they may be telling you that they don’t like you, says Taylor.
- Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
They’re short with you
If you ask “How’s it going?” and they always respond with “OK” or “Fine” – or if their emails always get straight to the point and never begin with a friendly “Hello” or “Good afternoon” – then this may be a sign that 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.
- Derrick Coetzee/Flickr
They give off negative body language
Whether it’s a subtle eye roll or 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 toward you, Kerr says.
- Tech Hub/flickr
They communicate with you primarily by email, avoiding in-person conversations as much as possible
If your boss doesn’t like you, then they’ll probably try to limit their in-person communication with you. If you notice a shift toward more digital correspondence, then that’s a sign.
They never invite you to participate in important meetings or special projects
Any signs of being shut out or excluded in any way is a major red flag that your boss has a problem with you, Kerr says.
- A National Acrobat/flickr
Their door is always closed
If your manager has an office and their door is always closed, then they may be trying to tell you something.
- Leonid Mamchenkov/flickr
They constantly disagree with you
If your boss shuts down every idea you pitch or disagrees with everything you say – but doesn’t seem to do this with others – then that’s a pretty good sign that they secretly hate you.
- VFS Digital Design/Flickr
They never ask about your personal life or family, always keeping conversations professional and businesslike
If you notice that your boss speaks with everyone else about their kids or hobbies, but never brings up these topics with you, then they’re probably just not interested in hearing about your life, says Kerr.
- Flickr/PhotKing ♛
They assign you jobs that no one else wants to do
If your boss gives only you menial tasks well below your level of experience or competence, such as “busy work,” then it’s a sign that they don’t trust or respect your abilities – or worse, that they are actively encouraging you to look for work elsewhere, says Taylor.
- VFS Digital Design/Flickr
They never give you any feedback …
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.
… or they give you only negative feedback, and it’s usually in public
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, then chances are that they don’t like you.
The don’t ever include you in their office bantering or humor
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, then it may be a sign that they don’t care for you.
- VFS Digital Design/flickr
They steal credit for your ideas
“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 says.
- David Hall/flickr
Your plum project gets reassigned
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. 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.
- Vancouver Film School/flickr
They say things like ‘Our personalities clash’ or ‘I think we tend to see things differently’
If your boss points out the fact that you’re rarely on the same page or can’t agree on things, then they probably don’t like you very much.
They have a shorter attention span for you than anyone else
If your boss seems disinterested in what you have to say, or loses patience easily while talking to you, then they probably just don’t like you very much.