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How to find out if your boss doesn’t like you — and what to do about it

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We spend a huge chunk of our lives at work or with people we work with. So, what happens when you and a coworker dislike each other — or worse, what if your boss doesn’t like you? 

Here are the tell-tale signs that your boss isn’t all that crazy about you and some useful tips to help you manage the situation. 

They’re micromanaging you

Micromanaging isn’t all that uncommon — in fact, most of us are guilty of doing it — but if your boss is checking up on you (and only you) all the time, it could be a sign that they don’t really like or trust you.

Are they asking to check to be CC’ed on all your external emails before they’re sent out? Are you having to submit your work for checking before it’s shared with the rest of the company?

If this is happening you need to tread lightly and figure out whether this is an issue across the company or if you’re being singled out. Being micromanaged is unpleasant, it can have a huge impact on your confidence — but if it’s happening to everyone it would simply indicate that your boss isn’t a great manager.

[Read: Most mobile apps suck — here’s how to fix them]

If on the contrary, you’re the only one experiencing this, you need to take stock of the situation and ask yourself whether you’ve done anything in the past to warrant this additional surveillance. If this is the case, your boss is probably just trying to help you improve.

You should ask whether anything’s wrong — watch your tone, though. Don’t be combative, be positive, and mindful of how they’ll perceive what you’ve got to say. 

Ask if there’s anything you can do to lessen their workload and express your desire to work more independently. The key is to come across as a team player and someone willing to make their life easier. 

See if they’re open to weekly reports or meetings as opposed to constant supervision. If your boss seems reluctant to work this way, you may want to ask for a timed experiment: see if they’d let you try this new way of doing things for a week or two. This way, you can try to prove yourself and hopefully get them to change their mind.

They’re ghosting you

If your boss has a tendency to ignore your emails, exclude you from important meetings, or they simply don’t acknowledge your existence and contribution, they may indeed have a problem with you. 

Again, it’s important to figure out whether this is their modus operandi or if they’re actively and consciously ignoring you. 

In this case, it’s best to let them know how you feel. You need to strike the balance between wanting to be transparent and communicative and appearing needy or seeking a lot of hand-holding. 

You’re totally justified in chasing your boss if they’ve failed to respond to your email or canceled several meetings, so don’t feel bad about that. Let them know this is important to you and express the knock-on effect this behavior has on budget, deliverables, and morale. 

Don’t make any demands, just let them know it comes from a place of concern and it’s about you wanting to work better and more effectively. 

They won’t stop criticizing your work

Getting constructive criticism is not only helpful, but it’s also expected. If your boss is constantly having a go at you, this is certainly a red flag.  

You need to think about how much this actually bothers you and how much energy you want to invest in mending the relationship in the short and long term.

To begin with, you may want to start by ensuring your goals and objectives are aligned before you start a specific project. Make sure you’re both on the same page and you understand what’s expected of you. 

After you discuss this, follow up in writing. Send a quick note summarizing your discussion and what you agreed on. This way, you’ll lessen the chances of any misunderstandings and your project should run smoothly. 

You should always try to be open and transparent about how you feel. Tell your boss that you value their feedback and opinion and that you’d like to work in a more collaborative manner. 

Express your concerns clearly and tell them you get the impression that they’re not currently happy with your work, and that you’d like to find out where you might be going wrong or what to improve. 

Ultimately, if your boss really dislikes you or if the relationship between you becomes increasingly strained, it may be time to change jobs.

They constantly overlook you

If you get the sense that you’re being constantly overlooked for promotions, it’s important that you act quickly. In this instance, your silence can be interpreted as acceptance, or worse, complacency. 

But before you do, find out whether there are other factors that could have influenced your manager’s decision (budget cuts, etc). The fact is, if your boss values you, they’ll have no issue explaining why you didn’t get the promotion or pay rise you expected or deserved. 

Ask them what it would take for you to be considered for a pay rise or promotion in the future. If your boss is interested in retaining talent, and if they value you, they should be able to sit down with you and outline a development plan. 

If your request is met with ambivalence, you may indeed want to get your CV up to scratch and consider moving on elsewhere. 

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Published August 24, 2020 — 08:09 UTC





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