16 Signs Your Boss Actually Hates You (and What to Do About It)
It’s not you, it’s me. Or maybe it is you. Help!
She starts asking you this particular question over and over again
All bosses ask questions, but if yours is constantly asking you “why?” it can be a subtle sign they are upset with you, says Mary Pharris, career counselor and director of business development at Fairygodboss. Examples may include “Why did you meet with that person?” or “Why did you think this was a good idea?” The best way to deal with this is to ask your boss, in person, what’s with the third degree. Use a neutral tone and resist the urge to get defensive. Need more insight into your manager’s thinking? Check out these 50 secrets your boss won’t tell you, but you definitely need to know.
He sends you very curt emails
If your boss sends you terse or curt e-mails, it can be a serious sign that they’re mad at you, especially if they’re normally more verbose, Pharris says. “Try not to read too much into email tone alone as it may just be they are in a hurry that day,” she explains. However, if it’s become an ongoing pattern or there are other signs your work relationship is crumbling, it’s time to chat with your boss, she says. The key is to talk in person as tone in emails can often be misinterpreted.
She crosses her arms and turns away from you
Your boss may be saying all the right things to you, but their body language will tell the real story, says Mark Stagno, partner and manager at WinterWyman. “If he or she is engaged and smiling while you are speaking, you’re likely in his or her good graces,” he explains. “On the flip side, they may be cordial but if they’re moving toward the door or otherwise showing they want to end the conversation, it’s not a good sign.” What to do in that awkward moment? Respect your boss’ boundaries and set up a time later to talk. Just make sure to avoid these things you should never say to your boss.
He never gives you criticism
If your boss isn’t giving you any constructive criticism, it shows they’re not interested in helping you, Stagno says. “Provided that it is constructive and delivered professionally, it’s largely a good thing to receive critical feedback, even if it doesn’t feel that way to us in the moment,” he says. “The moment you know your missteps go unchecked is the time to become concerned about your standing in a company.” If it has been awhile since your boss gave you a review, ask them if there are specific ways you can improve.
She reduces your workload for no reason
Having fewer assignments while still getting paid your full salary may sound like a dream come true, but this can be a subtle sign from your boss that they don’t like you or don’t trust you, says Steve Wang, human resources expert, hiring manager, and recruiter. “By giving you less responsibility, he has in a way, demoted you without unofficially doing so, and it’s up to you to prove your worth to him before he will start giving you the same tasks you’ve been given before,” he explains. Or the problem could be them: Try these smart ways to deal with a psychopath boss.
He gives you the silent treatment
Some bosses simply aren’t talkative by nature, but if yours is completely shutting you out, it’s a pretty clear sign they’re upset with you, Wang says. “This is a sign that he may be frustrated with you but isn’t in the mood to actually talk this out,” he says. This is one situation you shouldn’t ignore and hope it will go away: Go to your boss as soon as possible to clear the air. “Make it easier for your boss to point out your mistake by asking if there’s anything you could do to improve your work performance,” he adds.
She wants an update on everything
If your boss requires you to provide constant status updates on your work, or asks you to have a peer or supervisor review your work assignments before turning them in, it may be a sign that they’re not happy with you, says Jessie West, M.Ed., a human resources professional and expert in employee relations. “Address the situation by asking for more detailed feedback on your work. You need to know what’s wrong before you can fix it,” she says. Or it could be they have a poor management style. Does your boss have any of the telltale signs of a micromanager?
You’re no longer on the group emails
Being excluded from email chains, slack groups, chats, conference calls, or meetings that you’d normally be invited to is a red flag that your boss has a problem with you, West says. “This is one you’ll have to address head-on, otherwise you’ll continue to miss out on important opportunities.” She recommends scheduling a private meeting with your boss, asking for feedback, and showing you’re willing to work to make things better.
He only talks to you through other people
Is the only time you’re hearing from your boss when coworkers act as a go-between? This is a clear sign that your boss is avoiding you and may be mad at you, says Lisa A. Holmes, MS, a human resources executive and executive coach. It’s normal for executives several levels up to communicate indirectly with you, but your direct manager should talk to you themselves. “The lines of communication can be reopened by requesting feedback from,” she says. Or the problem may run deeper. Make sure you know these clear signs you can’t trust your boss.
She gives key projects to others
You shouldn’t expect to be the leader on every project, but if your boss consistently passes you over for important assignments, it can be a sign they are upset with you or unhappy with your performance, Holmes says. As uncomfortable as that is, the remedy to this may feel even harder. “When your boss gives a key task to someone else the best thing to do is show your support and professionalism by offering assistance to the new task owner,” she says. Then talk to your boss, expressing interest in getting more responsibility and what you need to do to get there. Try these 10 subtle things that will get you noticed at work.
He withholds information you need for your job
This is a particularly nasty sign as your boss is basically setting you up to fail. It’s hard to do a good job when you don’t have all the information you need to complete it, says Carol Wood, people operations director at Homebase. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be fired, however. “The most effective method to turn around a relationship with a difficult and unreasonable boss is to ask for feedback about how you are doing and then follow up on that feedback whether you agree with it or not,” she says. The key here is not to argue with them and resist the urge to defend yourself, she adds.
She constantly “jokes” about your work
If your boss has a comment about everything you do, they may be trying to tell you they’re upset with you by giving you subtle feedback about your performance, Wood says. What to do? Resist the temptation to dismiss it as “My boss just hates me” and take their comments to heart. “Whether your boss is right or wrong, it’s in your best interest to change to meet their expectations,” she adds. Providing feedback is one of the 10 signs of a good boss.
He doesn’t ask you about your weekend anymore
Going from friendly to strictly business may be a sign your boss is mad at you, especially if you’ve enjoyed a warm relationship in the past, says Tiffani Murray, human resources and career consultant. “You’ll see a change; they might not stop by your desk as they normally do or speak to you casually about non-work related topics. Or the tone of their voice may change, becoming terse or flat,” she explains. If you have an idea what caused the breach, apologize quickly and thoroughly.
She yells at you
It shouldn’t happen in an office—but it does. Yelling, screaming, and swearing are some of the clearest signs that your boss is angry with you, Murray says. Do what you can in the moment to de-escalate the situation, but if this is a regular occurrence or if your boss uses inappropriate or abusive language or behavior, it’s time to call HR in, she says. This isn’t something you should just accept.
He won’t look you in the eye
“Eye contact is a sign of trust and closeness,” says Alice Hoekstra, a career happiness consultant. So when a manager is uncomfortable, they’ll speak to you while starting at their computer screen, doing something on their phone, or looking around at other people. The first thing is to figure out if they’re frustrated with you personally or if they’re irritated with another situation and you just happened into it. From there, you can address the issue, she says. Start with these 16 smart ways to get your boss to trust you.
You just feel like she’s mad at you
Sometimes you can’t put your finger on exactly why, but you know someone is mad at you. “If you feel it in your gut, you’re most likely right,” says L. Jones-Dilworth, vice president and head of human resources at Jones-Dilworth Inc. If you think your boss is mad at you but you don’t know why, your coworkers can be a valuable resource. “You don’t need to explain your whole drama. Simply say, ‘I’d like to get along with our boss better and I’m not sure I really understand what makes them tick. You seem to have a great working relationship. Do you have any insight for me about how to collaborate well with them?’,” she says.
If, despite your best efforts, your relationship with your boss doesn’t improve, here’s how to secretly look for a new job while you still have one.