What to do when your boss doesn’t like you, or even hates you, and you don’t know why.
As general statements go, “my boss hates me” seems pretty similar to “I hate my boss.”
After all, both statements tend to just act as shorthand for a poor relationship between a manager and their employee.
But while “I hate my boss” can be translated as anything from:
“Work is stressful right now and I’m blaming it on my boss”
“My boss really does suck,”
The meaning of “my boss hates me” is typically crystal clear.
If you think your boss hates you, then there’s a very good chance they’re actively trying to either fire you or get you to quit on your own.
It’s true — this confused, angry man in a dumb hat could be you.
This is a stressful and often anxiety-inducing situation to find yourself in, but fear not:
These phases aren’t always permanent, and there may be something you can do to break the ice that’s formed in your relationship with your manager.
Your best friends here at Zippia have a few suggestions for you when it comes to managing or subduing your boss’s negative behavior, along with a few more suggestions about what to do if it happens that this negativity can’t be helped.
Typically speaking, when you have a bad relationship with your boss or manager, the way that relationship manifests itself happens in one of two ways — namely, either your boss is currently giving you too much attention, or they’re giving you almost none at all.
So when you ask yourself “how is my boss treating me differently than before,” which answer do you give yourself?
We’ll go over what both of these look like in the next session, and after that, we’ll talk about some good tactics to combat some of your boss’ unprofessional behavior.
You’re being left out of critical meetings.
Events that were once required attendance for you are now being canceled or picked up again at times that aren’t convenient for you.
If you manage to find yourself in a meeting at all, your contributions are either put down or else ignored completely.
”Sorry, Al, totally slipped my mind. Yeah, we’re all clear gummy bears now. Was just time for a change. Red is a little passe at this point, don’t you think?”
Your boss doesn’t check up on you as often. It’s not that they’re saying anything bad about you necessarily, but they no longer give you any meaningful feedback, although they’re still heaping praise on the people around you.
When you’re getting assignments at all, they’re often not quite as mission-critical as those you’re used to carrying out.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you’re on the “lack of attention” end of the spectrum. Your boss, for one reason or another, no longer values you or your contributions to the team. They no longer trust in your ability to do your work correctly or consistently.
Your boss may not want to fire you just yet, but they definitely don’t feel like you’re contributing much — at best, they probably wouldn’t care if you decided to leave the company, and at worst, this might be exactly the outcome they’re hoping that their ignoring of you will create.
On the other end of the spectrum, you might find that being in hot water with your boss means receiving a level of attention from them that you’ve never had before.
They’re in your office every other minute checking up on you, asking how your progress is coming along, perhaps even to an extent that they’re interfering with you actually completing your duties.
Unlike the other section, you’re receiving plenty of feedback — unfortunately, it’s entirely of the negative variety, and no matter what you do to improve your work, you just can’t seem to get any positive reinforcement from your boss.
”I’m not saying we don’t appreciate your contributions, Jim, I’m just saying you’ve been flat for the last 3 shows and you haven’t shown any signs of improving.
This might just be the way that your boss operates, or maybe they’re stressed out and acting like this toward everyone in their office. But if this happens to be a new behavior for your boss, and if this behavior is only being directed at you, then watch out.
If all this is true, they want you to leave the company, and they’re not just going to sit back and wait for it to happen:
Either they’re working to make your life a living hell so that you decide to quit on your own, or else they’re busy building their case (stocking up negative performance review after another) to defend themselves once they finally decide to fire you.
Whether you’re receiving no attention or far too much, you’re definitely in danger of suddenly becoming jobless if you find yourself on either side of this coin.
But your relationship with your boss is like any other relationship in that it can be repaired if you take the right steps and have just a bit of luck on your side.
The biggest problem with not receiving any feedback is that it means that you no longer have any metric by which to judge your boss’s opinion of your work, so the first thing you need to do is figure out why this feedback is being denied to you in the first place.
It’s important at this point to consider that your boss might be totally justified in treating you the way that they have been.
Have you been getting behind on your duties, or turning in subpar work?
Have your sales numbers been particularly low lately, or have you just failed to learn and grow as quickly as your coworkers around you?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, it’s important at this point to either ask for help or — if your performance is just because you’ve been slacking off — to finally start working at your full capacity.
In either case, you want to get in touch with your boss as soon as you can and talk to them about the situation.
Tell them that you’re aware that your performance hasn’t been up to snuff lately, and then either ask them about what you can do to improve things from there or tell them your own plan for how you’re going to do so.
Your boss will certainly be receptive to a conversation like this, with two possible exceptions:
In the case of these exceptions, you’re going to have to do some extracurricular work to figure out what you’re doing wrong and how to solve the issue.
If you believe you are in fact doing your work to the best of your ability and that your boss just isn’t seeing it that way, then that means your boss is having issues with you for personal reasons — in which case, it’s up to you to figure out how to repair that relationship, even if the rift is totally your boss’s fault.
Human beings are fragile and emotional, and power dynamics complicate relationships that might otherwise be easy to navigate. If you’re having trouble connecting with your boss, try to think about what might have led to the situation.
Assuming that you can think of anything you might have done (or not done) that might have resulted in your boss becoming a little chilly with you, think about how you can fix things.
If the problem is that you don’t have a lot in common, try talking to them a little more in a small talk-y kind of way. Look as hard as possible for any connection you can make with them. “Oh, your mother was an actress? That’s so weird — I also have a mother.”
It doesn’t have to be a strong connection. Just find anything that makes you more than just another faceless name on a pink slip, enough that your boss can empathize with you.
”The same shoes? Wow. Someone call a waiter, because it looks like there are two peas in this pod.”
Alternatively, if the issue is that you’ve managed to offend your boss, the problem becomes a little trickier. Apologizing might be good if you can approach it correctly, but it’s also possible that you can just come off as a know-it-all and anger your boss further. A better option is to find opportunities to show your boss the respect that they feel like they were denied earlier.
That might require eating a little crow, but if the alternative is losing your job, that might not be such a bad sacrifice to make. It doesn’t have to be much — just give them an opportunity to share in your success a little bit, or ask for their opinion on problems you’re running into during your work.
Don’t make yourself look stupid, because that’s bad for whole other reasons, but if you can make your boss feel like you need and respect their input, it could go a long way toward improving your relationship with them.
You’ll notice this section is a bit shorter than the last, and there’s a reason for that. For one thing, a few of the tips from the previous section can be applied to a situation where your boss is micromanaging you, so long as that relationship is still salvageable. But the main thing is that if your boss is already micromanaging you, the only real tactic you can take is to try to actually do the work that they have lost their faith in your ability to carry out.
You’re getting plenty of feedback, after all, so put it to use. If you can figure out what you’re doing wrong and take the appropriate steps to fix the situation, a reasonable boss should at that point back off. They should start giving you more and more positive feedback until gradually giving you back your autonomy and giving you more mission-critical responsibilities again.
If this happens to you, congrats. Your boss was micromanaging you for a reason. It was a test, and you passed.
That’s right. Looks like all that hell and heartburn was worth it.
But there’s also the possibility that your boss is just a butthole who has it out for you, in which case there’s nothing at all you can do.
They don’t care if you’re doing the work correctly — they’re just trying to create a paper trail of negative performance reviews (or whatever your work uses to track employee performance) in order to justify the decision they’ve already made to either fire you or lay you off.
The relationship can’t be fixed at this point — it’s already highly combative and corroded beyond repair.
So when all else fails and you’re stuck with a boss that doesn’t want you around, what do you do then?
I mean, you quit. Obviously.
That’s the easy answer, at least. You’re in a toxic work environment with a boss that hates you and what appears to be an expiration date hanging over your head. Situations like this are what the idea of quitting was invented for.
Of course, it’s true that not everyone has the luxury of quitting a job just because their boss hates them. There are rents, debts, and mortgages to pay, after all, and for those who are living paycheck to paycheck, any time off from working could lead to weeks of soup dinners or even to evictions.
And looking for a new career can be a job in and of itself, often requiring 30 hours or more a week of effort in order to find an appropriate gig in a reasonable time frame.
But when you’re being forced to walk a plank, you’ve already lost most of your control over the situation. One way or another, you’re getting pushed off the boat.
If you’re lucky, though, you might be able to pick a not-so-bad time to jump off.
Boy oh boy! Late capitalism sure is fun.
If you do find you are suddenly in the job market again, be sure to check out our main site, where you can search for jobs online and find the career that’s right for you.
Anywho, best of luck to you — below you’ll find some other links to help you on your way.
14 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer
Interview Question: Tell Me About a Challenge or Conflict You’ve Faced at Work
12 Reasons You’re Not Getting Hired
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