BY JEN OLENICZAK
Ever get the impression that your boss doesn’t like you?
I’ve been there – I remember working at a non-profit and it seemed like my boss loathed me. Everything I did felt wrong, too much, not enough, and pretty quickly, I started operating and working out of fear and nervousness. I learned a lot of things about myself, my situation, and my communication during this time – and a lot of changes I would have made. If you’re struggling with a similar situation, let’s dig in!
Tap the Why
Sure, you might have a feeling or an idea of feeling disliked by your boss. Maybe you’re thinking you get a lot of work that others don’t get, or extra critique – whatever the reason, start to think about why you feel like this.
One of the best ways to start tapping this why: look for evidence. What do you notice that makes you think that your boss dislikes you? Remember, this has to be more than a feeling: you’re looking for clear data points that prove what you believe, actual moments where you can say, “Hey, this is proof.”
When you have your proof, look at it with as nonbiased of an eye as possible. What else could be the reason for the behavior? For example:
Proof: I get more work than everyone else; this means that my boss hates me.
Another reason: I might be good at the work they give me. I might also need to express that I am overwhelmed and doing too much.
Now, this can only go so far – if you have a lot of evidence that your boss might have an issue with you, you might be correct. If you can’t find much evidence or start seeing that, it might be something else – take some time and sit with that information. Remember, this might be completely unrelated to how your boss feels about you.
Set Up a Time to Talk
This is probably making your work more difficult – or hurting your productivity at the very least. Set up some time to talk to your boss and do some work before you head in. When you’re setting the meeting, focus it around a conversation. Using a phrase like, “I’d like to set up a time to talk,” and then planning some conversation points will be helpful.
In your conversation, focus in on the bits of evidence and convert them to assertive statements. For example, maybe you’ve noticed that your boss rolls his eyes at you when you talk during meetings. You want to tie the action with an emotion – statements like:
When you roll your eyes at me, I feel frustrated. Can we talk about this?
This statement links their action, rolling eyes, with your emotion, frustration. You can continue the conversation with the second part – can we talk about this – and move the conversation along to how you can both work together. Assertive communication is about finding the middle.
Another way to prepare for the conversation: how can you work together? That “middle” in assertive communication needs to come from both sides – someone needs to take the first step, and since you called the meeting – why not you?
An important note: don’t have this discussion over email or any sort of text communication. Focus the communication on in-person or video. There are far too many nonverbal communication bits, things like tone and body language, that will be missed if you aren’t able to see each other’s faces.
Not Friends, Just Coworkers
Above all, remember: you don’t have to be friends. You simply have to work together. Finding that center and making small changes – even if one is communicating more with one another! – will help you reach that middle ground.