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I Think My Boss Hates Me. Now What?

Don’t panic. Here’s what to do.

We’d all love to live in a world where everyone likes everyone else and our work days go by in a flurry of friendly waves and gracious smiles. But, that’s just not how life works. Sometimes it starts out as an inkling – a hunch. Maybe it’s the way they look at you . . . or don’t. Maybe it’s the way you always get the less desirable tasks. For one reason or another you’ve started to suspect that your boss doesn’t like you. In fact, they might just plain hate you. Yikes! Now what?

Having a boss that doesn’t like you is not fun. However, it’s not the end of the world either. Your first instinct might be to simply jump ship and look for a new job or transfer to a different department. You don’t have to go that far. Here are a few things you can do – and a few you shouldn’t do – if you want to win the boss over.

Do: Stay involved.

From the big projects to team meetings you want to be sure that your boss sees you right in the thick of things. Continue to be a strong contributing member to your department. Maybe your boss doesn’t like you, but they’ll have to respect the way you handle your business and how much you add to the team. If you need to, do a little subtle self-promotion. The key word there is subtle. It’s not enough to just be there getting work done, you need to be immersed in your team and your company, showing that you’re a key cog in the team.

Don’t: Try to go unnoticed.

Your first instinct may be to put your head down and do your work quietly without ruffling any feathers. Everyone likes a person who quietly gets their job done, right? Wrong. The best that approach can do for you is to slide from disliked to unnoticeable. Neither one is going to help you advance your career. On the flip side, it could make your situation worse. If your boss doesn’t like you, it may be that they don’t see you as a benefit to the team. If you go silent and become even less involved, your boss may decide you’re not worth keeping around at all. Unnoticed is usually unneeded.

Do: Say “Hi!” to the boss.

This is a hard one. There’s no doubt about that. But here’s the simple truth, people tend to like those who show an interest in them. Don’t just say, “Hi!” and walk on by. Engage in casual conversation if you can, and keep the focus on your boss. Ask questions and try to get them talking about their interests, whether that means the newest project in the office or their five year old’s Tae Kwon Do class. Learning about their interests makes the next conversation even easier. You can go from, “Hi!” to “Hey, did Lisa get her Tae Kwon Do yellow belt?” In just a few seconds each day you can get to know them better. Show your boss that you are a fun person to talk to and perhaps that ice will start to melt away.

Don’t: Avoid the boss.

Tough love time. Think you’re stealthily avoiding the boss? You’re not. Changing your patterns so you’re not at the coffee machine at the same time or never sitting close to them at team meetings may seems like subtle strokes of genius to you, but it will eventually stand out to your boss. Then what? They’ll wonder why you’re avoiding them. Are you not getting your work done? What are you trying to hide? If you thought they didn’t like you before, you really won’t have to wonder if they notice that you’re avoiding them. Don’t do it.

Do: Be early.

It’s hard to rush into a job where you don’t feel wanted, but you can’t focus on that. Showing up a little early each day for work and for meetings shows your confidence and your eagerness to work. If you need to, put your focus on your job and your team and try not to think about the boss to much. You’re doing this for your career, not their. Besides, you may just find that getting to work a little early each day has its own perks.

Don’t – Leave early.

When you’re around someone who you believe doesn’t like you, it’s instinctual to want to get away. It’s easy to think of excuses, too. “I’ll be working at home tonight anyway” or “I need to beat traffic” are convenient ways to justify it to yourself. Leaving early to get away from a boss that doesn’t like you won’t win you any points. They may not catch on that you’re leaving to get away from them, but they will think you’re shirking your job. This can only make you sink lower in their esteem.

Do: Compliment your boss.

A compliment can go a long way when it’s done right. You don’t want to be obvious and come across as a kiss-up, but there’s nothing wrong with a well-placed compliment. The trick is to keep it professional. Personal compliments about physical appearance or attire are dangerous ground. Stick to simple work-related topics like, “I like what you did to your office” or “Nice job on the presentation at the meeting. I think you got their attention.” Follow it up with a little detail to show that you really noticed and you could be in for smoother sailing. Don’t make up compliments. Instead look for things for which you can genuinely show appreciation.

Don’t: Bad mouth the boss.

You may think it’s simple office chatter, but when you start bad mouthing your boss, you’re in trouble. Even when you think you’ve found a sympathetic ear, you don’t know who that person will tell and so on. Once you’re in the gossip chain the chances are that it will get back to your boss and, yes, it will be connected to you. You don’t want to get called into that office for a closed-door session that starts with, “So, I hear you’ve been saying . . ..” Talking trash about your boss is a big sign of disrespect that will quickly land you in hot water.

Not everyone likes everyone else. That means that your boss may not like you. It’s a tough reality. If they still respect you and the work you do, you may be able to just ignore it, but if it’s making your life and your job miserable, follow these steps to try and bridge that gap. It may be that there is a misunderstanding that you can work through with a positive attitude and effort.

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Landing your dream job starts with the right plan. Download your free action plan now to get the job you deserve.