my boss doesn’t care about me personally or professionally

A reader writes:

My boss doesn’t care about me personally or professionally, and I no longer feel motivated at my job as a result. Is it just best to move on, even if I don’t have anything lined up, because the relationship is affecting my mental health?

On the personal end, it ranges from not asking how my vacation was to not acknowledging that there was a shooting in my hometown (so I may not be as productive that specific day or interested in attending a last-minute, non-essential external meeting). He’ll make side remarks about me taking too much vacation, or roll his eyes when I make suggestions in meetings.

Professionally, he will avoid questions about my professional development (i.e., telling me during a performance review that my professional growth is a different topic entirely), and has told me that I have a “bad attitude” when I express that I can’t do something because of all the other work I’m doing. I receive no acknowledgement for a job well done, and recently, a promotion that I received (at the behest of someone else at the organization) wasn’t acknowledged by my supervisor.

The relationship feels very “transactions-based,” and I end up feeling like a working robot. He and I have had ongoing communication issues for almost two years of us working together, to the point where people have been brought in to mediate the issues at hand. Every time I bring up the types of issues I’m having to upper management, trying to keep them as professional as possible, they acknowledge them and say that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing. I’ve responded by asking for a new manager, a request which was declined.

I hesitate to bring up some of the more “human” aspects of the relationship that are troubling me, because I also don’t expect my boss to be a buddy. However, it’s causing me a lot of emotional strain and I feel increasingly burdened by the expectations placed on me. I like my job (it comes with quite a few perks), and I wouldn’t mind the heavy workload if there was some emotional fulfillment. I would take just acknowledgement of how hard I work or that I get sick or can have a bad day. Is it best to just move on, even if I don’t have anything lined up, because the relationship is becoming too stressful? I’ve been applying for other jobs to no avail for some time now, so I worry about being stuck without a position for some time. Are there any avenues to fix this in the short-term without seeming overly emotional about it?

I don’t think you’re going to change your boss.

That said, for what it’s worth, not all of this sounds terrible. Not asking how your vacation was isn’t a big deal. It’s something a thoughtful boss would do, but it’s not an outrage if it doesn’t happen. And not acknowledging that there was a shooting in your hometown — well, he may not even remember that it was your hometown or realize that you feel very connected to it.

But other pieces of this do sound really bad. Rolling his eyes when you make suggestions is a flagrant expression of contempt, and it’s not okay for anyone at work to do that too you, least of all your boss.

Overall, it sounds like you’re dealing with someone without much emotional intelligence or sensitivity … so as long as you’re working there, you’re going to be happier if you stop looking for him to do things like acknowledging good work or that you might be having a hard day. He’s not going to do those things. It’s not that it’s unreasonable to want a manager to do those things — of course he should — but you know enough of him by now to know that he won’t, and you’re making things harder on yourself by still hoping he will.

You will probably be happier if you accept him for what he is, assume that he won’t change, and decide if you can work with him reasonably happily under those conditions. If you decide that you can’t, your best bet is to move on. And actually, even if you could reframe things in your head to be less bothered by him, you should probably move on at some point anyway, because when things are so bad that you’ve had to have mediators come in to help you and your boss talk to each other, it’s a situation that’s unlikely to ever be awesome for you professionally. It can be an “I can make this work if I have to” situation, but it’s not likely to be one where you really grow professionally, get projects where you can excel, build your reputation, and so forth.

However, it’s probably in your best interests to find another job before you quit this one. It’s easier to find a job when you already have one, and you never can tell how long a job search might take (especially since you’ve already been looking for a while). Obviously that calculation changes if staying is impacting your mental health, but sometimes accepting that a bad boss isn’t going to change and giving yourself permission to stop trying to fix the situation can make things significantly easier to tolerate until you can escape.

{ 283 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Zip Silver

    He doesn’t sound like the worst boss in the world to me. Maybe not terribly social, or doesn’t want to be social with OP.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I disagree, because of this: “He’ll make side remarks about me taking too much vacation, or roll his eyes when I make suggestions in meetings.”

      That’s not just antisocial, it’s rude, condescending, and contemptuous.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        That was the line (in the meetings) for me. That’s super uncool. You can work with a boss that thinks you’re an idiot, but not one that DEMONSTRATES PUBLICLY that he thinks you’re an idiot. Job search.

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        1. Fortitude Jones

          This is my problem – OP has to leave if only because should this one advocate ever move on, she’s screwed. Her manager won’t bother advancing her no matter how good she is, and her career will stall because of it.

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          1. OhNo

            My thought exactly. One can only depend on promotions (and other intercessions) from people outside your direct chain of command for so long. At some point, you’re going to need a boss that will go to bat for you, and I think we can safely say that this guy won’t.

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      2. AnotherAlison

        My read on this was that the boss may have gotten fed up with the OP. That’s not an excuse to be rude and unprofessional, but I think the OP needs to move on. The relationship cannot be saved.

        In almost two years, they have had mediation by 3rd parties, the OP has raised issues to upper management, and the OP has asked for a new manager. In my work environment, that would come across as a fairly high maintenance employee, and the various comments in the letter indicate that she is probably not viewed overall as a high performer that the organization wants to keep happy. The only slight possibility to salvage this job, IMO, would be to figure out something through whoever got her the promotion. If that is a different department she could transfer to that department, maybe that would work. (That’s a slightly different request that asking for a new manager.)

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        1. SallytooShort

          “and the various comments in the letter indicate that she is probably not viewed overall as a high performer that the organization wants to keep happy”

          They did go out of their way to promote her without the approval of her supervisor. That pretty strongly suggests they want to keep her happy.

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          1. Lil Fidget

            And upper management insulted her boss (but still didn’t help OP) which also confirms that this isn’t in OP’s head. Still the advice is the same, look to move on.

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        2. Snark

          I disagree with “the various comments in the letter indicate that she is probably not viewed overall as a high performer that the organization wants to keep happy.” She WAS promoted, at someone else’s behest.

          Agree otherwise, though.

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        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          They promoted OP. They may not be focused on retention, but I don’t think OP is “not a high performer.”

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        4. Phoenix Programmer

          Eh. I have had a boss write me off before and like the op others went to bat to get me promoted. Honestly the boss felt threatened by me. I eventually got a huge promotion out of the department.

          Sometimes a boss is bad and the bosses above are wimps – doesn’t mean the direct reports are damaged goods.

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      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Agreed. The other issues are annoying, but I would urge OP to compartmentalizations on the personal. But openly rolling your eyes and having communication problems that require mediation cross the line. I’m pretty frustrated with the higher ups shrugging off the boss’s poor management and also refusing to switch OP’s supervisor.

        I suspect OP’s boss has reached the BEC point in how he sees OP. Outside of the open contempt, it sounds like He’s opted for management by neglect.

        Reply
        1. Lil Fidget

          I think it might help OP to separate out the ACTIVE things their boss is doing – like rolling his eyes – from just the things he’s NOT doing that you wish he would. Forget the second category entirely. I can make myself extremely unhappy by listing all the things others could do to make my life easier if they would be more thoughtful – but … that’s not really a great way for me to spend my mental energy. They’re not doing anything AT me, they’re just focused on their own stuff and not seeing the big picture from my perspective. Whereas someone actively rolling their eyes at me, oh it’s on and I’m going to tackle that issue big time.

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          1. Snark

            It’s an awful way to spend mental energy. My Midwestern mom and her family love to do this – they have a script in their head of how things should go in an interaction, and if the other person doesn’t read their lines on cue, they get very upset and passive-aggressive. And that’s not fair. Many bosses are interpersonally deft and friendly and would give freely of what you’re asking for, but Boss isn’t remiss for not hewing to a script he doesn’t have.

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            1. Lil Fidget

              Hehe I think we’ve talked on the thread before about Ask versus Guess culture (I moved to a big East Coast city from the Midwest so I think about this all the time) but basically where I grew up, you were supposed to be constantly anticipating the needs and wishes of people around you – even strangers – and proactively working to address them. That was more of a minimum standard of politeness there. In the city I live in now, not assaulting someone is the minimum standard of politeness and anything else is over the top consideration and maybe makes you a sucker. I am really working on correcting my thought patterns so that I’m not constantly “offended” by things that other people aren’t doing that I wish they would do.

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              1. CubicleShroom#1004

                I’m live in the Midwest, and that anticipating others needs is a really hard habit to break. It’s doubly hard when you expect that, and don’t get it.

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              2. Cobol

                I’ve lived in the Midwest but came from the west coast, I think your description is correct, but I’d encourage you to rethink your conclusion.
                You come across as thinking that the Midwest way is the higher standard. I hated the Midwest way, because people were constantly guessing what I wanted to anticipate my needs instead of actually listening so they would know my needs.

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                1. Anion

                  Lil Fidget is perfectly entitled to think or feel that the Midwest way is better or the higher standard, and doesn’t need to “rethink [her] conclusion,” as if she is wrong or not viewing the situation “correctly,” just because her opinion isn’t the same as yours.

                  There’s no one right answer to that question. It’s a matter of personal preference. I think french fries taste better than broccoli; does that mean I need to “rethink [my] conclusion,” or does that mean I just like them better according to my standards, personality, and preferences, and it’s nobody’s place to tell me I’m not thinking clearly or not considering the question deeply enough just because they disagree.

                2. Cobol

                  Yo anion that seems terribly aggressive. Everybody is always free to their own opinion. I’m not saying the ask way is the higher standard. I’m saying if you come from a standpoint that one is better than the other add opposed to different you’re never going to see another point of view.

                3. Anion

                  Well, I’m sorry, Cobol, for being “terribly aggressive.” Your response to Lil Fidget struck me as terribly condescending, actually, which is why I replied the way I did, but it certainly wasn’t intended to be *aggressive.*

                  I disagree, btw, that people are incapable of seeing a different point of view just because they have an opinion. I’m perfectly capable of seeing and understanding where other people are coming from but still disagreeing with the way they do things. I’d like to think most adults are capable of that.

                  Either way, I don’t want to derail the discussion, and it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t mean to be “aggressive,” and I apologize.

          2. Brooks

            I agree with this 100%! While I do believe the Boss is being kind of a jerk towards OP, it sounds like he’s a little over them because of how much trouble there’s been to stabilish communication between them. It doesn’t justify his behaviour, but He sounds fed up.
            Try to separate the ACTIVE attitudes that wrong you, because in those the Boss is actually taking the action to further bridge you two.
            I have something to add tough. It seems to me OP is looking for some sort of validation from a superior that not many bosses Will eventually give. I see OP said they understand that a Boss is not always gonna be a buddy, but I still think they have tio high expectations on a employee-boss relationship. Failing to talk about career growth during performance avaliations is wrong, but not recognizing an employee’s hard work (while a bad managing move) is not wrong in itself. I say this because if you maintain certain expectations and eventually change jobs, you might still not find the type of supportive Boss you seem to crave elsewhere…

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            1. Safetykats

              Yes. Some of this behavior is not okay – eye-rolling and side-talking – but at least is only passive-aggressive, and undoubtedly makes the boss look bad to others. Some of the behavior is actually normal. I know where exactly two of the people in my group are from – because they grew up in the same town where we are located, as did I. For the others, I may know the general area of the country they are from, but not their actual hometown. Even for the ones I hired, I’m not necessarily sure exactly where they relocated from – because HR takes care of that. When he go on vacation, I will usually get around to asking how that was – but is things are busy at work I would probably make sure they are up to speed on actual work before making small talk about non-work-related stuff. (Although I would definitely say “Welcome back!).

              I think OP is looking for some social interaction from her boss that she should be getting from coworkers who are more likely to be friends. Some bosses are just never going to have this kind of relationship with subordinates, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is something wrong with exhibiting a bad attitude simply because your boss doesn’t act like your friend, if that’s what is going on. That set of expectations probably needs to be adjusted, or OP is likely to be disappointed in any number of bosses.

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          3. Samiratou

            Agree with this totally.

            I’m on the shy, reserved side and I tend not to ask personal questions in fear that I’m prying or might ask something upsetting, so I’d hate for someone to assume disinterest when I really just don’t want to pry. I’m also good at being oblivious, so while I’d certainly ask you how your vacation went, unless I know your hometown was Vegas or something a shooting in your hometown wouldn’t even remotely register (though I live in a metro area, so shootings are sadly more common than they should be). Now, if you’re my employee and you’ve let me know that matters to you I’ll be more than happy to ask about things, because my reticence is more about respecting your space/privacy than anything else.

            But the eye-rolling and all that BS? Hell to the know. Jerk.

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            1. Kittyfish 76

              I am this way too. I don’t ask a lot of questions not because I don’t care, but I don’t want people to think I an nosy or prying.

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        2. LBK

          I’m frankly just floored that management could shamelessly admit that someone is bad at their job without firing that person, never mind transferring the OP to another team. The hell is he still doing even working there if they acknowledge that he’s not good at managing, which is kind of a big part of…y’know, being a manager?

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          1. Dachelle

            Same thing happened in my old office. Expensive consultants were brought in, one of whom flat out told my coworker that our boss shouldn’t be a manager. My old manager is still there. Some places are just impervious to change.

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            1. Your Weird Uncle

              I’ve worked in so many similar places, and always put it down to some managers getting promoted because of tenure, not ability. So in places like this, bad boss is comfortable, has been there ages, but not necessarily good at his or her job, and companies who promote this way don’t even see that.

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          2. Lil Fidget

            This is not at all surprising to me! Lots of places are like this. Charitably, they might bring in a lot of business, or have a long tenure (know where the skeletons are buried), or whatever. Or LW is just of lower value to the org than the boss.

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            1. LBK

              I shouldn’t say I’m surprised, per se, but it’s still galling every time it happens. Hopefully that distinction makes sense; I fully believe people can do that without feeling bad about it, but I don’t understand how.

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          3. I'd rather be blue

            Management where I work is doing this right now with two older employees, one in particular who is absolute hell to work with. It’s definitely more common than you might think.

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          4. Samiratou

            It could also be that her boss sucks at managing people but is valuable in other areas, but in that case they should be looking into a better supervisory arrangement for LW and other direct reports.

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          5. JamieS

            They didn’t actually say he was a bad manager though. They suggested to OP that ‘maybe he was bad at managing’. Based on the wording it’s not really clear if upper management actually believes he’s a bad manager or was basically just telling OP that maybe he’s not a good manager for OP. It’s a bit hard for me to get a read based on the letter because I can see plausible scenarios where the upper management really thinks he’s a lousy manager but upper management saying something like that out of exasperation after numerous complaints from OP over things like him not asking about their vacation seems equally plausible to me.

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      4. K.

        100%. I can deal with colleagues or bosses not wanting to socialize with me; that’s not what work is for, although it’s nice when people at work like each other. But the fact that he’s openly contemptuous AND that he’s not supporting her professionally (she had to be promoted by someone else) makes him a bad boss. OP isn’t going to get anywhere working under him, which is more than enough reason to move on.

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        1. TootsNYC

          I don’t think it’s such a big thing that he’s not supporting her professionally. I can totally see a manager not really paying much attention to the development of those people under them. The workers are hired to do a job, and the manager is hired to supervise them doing THAT job.

          I don’t expect my boss to think about how to promote me to ANOTHER job, or how I can get additional skills that will help me grow so I can take on OTHER duties. That *is* a separate conversation from “how well are you doing THIS job?”

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          1. sin nombre

            But it’s not at all a separate conversation from “how can I keep growing and developing in this job”, and a manager who neglects that is not a good manager IMO.

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          2. Another GenX Dev Manager

            I disagree. It’s actually in my core competencies that I am evaluated against that I am helping my team members find opportunities to grow professionally – whether that’s in the job itself, or helping them find available training to improve their skills – even if they’re not exactly relevant to our current work. I am expected to discuss professional growth in at least every quarterly review, and preferably as an on-going conversation in our one-on-ones.

            If I want a higher performing more satisfied more engaged team – it’s my job to get them there, and helping them grow is part of it. If it means they leave for another project or job – so be it. It’s a chance to start fresh with someone else and a risk I take regardless of whether I help them grow or not.

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            1. Prudencep

              Same here. A big part of my role (and my subordinates’ roles) is to help our staff grow professionally and build high performing teams. We do a lot of work on stuff in the vein of Meyers-Briggs (whatever faults there are with that) and how to have better conversations and relationships. We’d certainly expect a level of interpersonal skill that could adjust some behaviour to work best with people in their team, recognising that not one person can do all the adjusting and take take take.

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          3. Susanne

            “I don’t think it’s such a big thing that he’s not supporting her professionally. I can totally see a manager not really paying much attention to the development of those people under them. The workers are hired to do a job, and the manager is hired to supervise them doing THAT job.

            I don’t expect my boss to think about how to promote me to ANOTHER job, or how I can get additional skills that will help me grow so I can take on OTHER duties. That *is* a separate conversation from “how well are you doing THIS job?””

            This seems like the distinction between the blue-collar world of “this is my boss, he supervises me and I do what he says” and the white-collar world of “this is my manager, he/she is charged with my development, and my success and upward mobility is a direct reflection on his/her ability as a manager”? The boss wants to keep you in your box; the manager wants to see you grow.

            Reply
      5. Susana

        I know, Snark, but… I kind of get the sense that the manager is not happy with OP’s work overall. This is surely not the right way to handle it – eye-rolling is pretty immature. But it does sound like OP is thinking about how he/she is not being praised and given attention and not considering that maybe the job itself is not going that well. Still – really not defending manager’s approach in meetings. And honestly – expecting a boss to remember where you’re from and assume you’re having a problem at work because of a shooting there? No. The shootings upset all of us, and yes, I get that it’s closer to emotional home if it happened in your home town. But it really is not an excuse for your work to suffer.

        Reply
          1. Oryx

            I think that’s the point, though: the OP’s supervisor didn’t promote her, for whatever reason. But then someone else went ahead and did it. The supervisor may be annoyed that someone else went above his head to promote someone he didn’t feel, rightly or wrongly, was worth of a promotion.

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            1. Trout 'Waver

              I’ve had an employee that tried to go around me and bring things directly to my boss. My boss was terrible and actually entertained promoting this employee despite some major issues that he was unaware of.

              I shut it down, fortunately for the people on my team who deserved promotions. But, ugh, what a mess.

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          2. Susana

            Yeah, I thought about that, but…maybe that’s part of it. It sounds pretty clear that supervisor (rightly or wrongly) doesn’t think OP deserves a promotion. Honestly, if a report told me he/she wold not be as productive or be able to attend an office meeting because there was a shooting in report’s home town… I’d be pretty po’d. And it also sounds like supervisor (again, rightly or wrongly) thinks OP isn’t taking on enough work. I just think this situation is more complicated. The hurt over not being asked about one’s vacation does, honestly, make me think the OP is a bit fragile and doesn’t understand the boss-employee relationship. Now, having said all that – it really, really sucks to work for someone you know just doesn’t like you. And that’s an argument for finding another job.

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            1. MCMonkeyBean

              Woah, wait, what!? I agree with Allison that the boss not coming out on his own to acknowledge the shooting isn’t necessarily bad because maybe he didn’t even know… but are you seriously saying if an employee came you and said they were distraught over a tragedy like that and wanted to give you a heads up that they may not be operating at full capacity, you would be MAD at them??? That is a seriously disturbing lack of empathy.

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        1. Snark

          I don’t think we’ve got enough information to suss out her performance either way, but in any case, I think it doesn’t matter. He’s a disengaged, low emotional IQ, and rude boss, and OP sounds like she has, partially unwittingly, done some things that Boss most regarded as adversarial and undermining at worst and needy at best, or some combination of all those things. That alone is sufficient to explain the breakdown.

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          1. Not So NewReader

            Yeah, this was my read here also. Things have not been going well for a while. Bringing in a mediator? Three times? My father used to have a saying, “If you need a third party to explain to your boss that you are doing a good job, then you need a new boss.” The core issue is how come your boss does not know you are doing a good job? This is a huge disconnect here.

            I don’t think OP has found one good thing about her boss yet. Which, okay, that may actually be true. But the problem is that the boss KNOWS OP can’t find anything good about them. Ever work with someone you hates you? You know you are defeated before you start. So you can get to thinking, “why start?”
            I hate to say it but with bad bosses it’s wise to search around and find something that they do well with. If we cannot find that one positive thing, we are more likely to give off the vibe that we don’t like/respect our bosses in any way/shape/form.

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        2. Anion

          Yeah, expecting to be given a break on doing work for the day because there was a shooting in your hometown that (apparently) didn’t personally affect you or anyone you personally know seems a little much.

          My family and I were at the mall this last weekend when a police officer had to shoot someone, right there in the mall, not far from where we were standing. It was scary–we didn’t see anything but we heard the shots, and grabbed our kids and ran.

          Now, granted, we soon learned it was an officer-involved shooting, no one else was injured, and the shooting was completely justified, so that made a big difference for us, but my husband went to work the next day (and would have even if the situation had been different). We would have kept the kids home from school if it hadn’t been a justified officer shooting, but that would have been just a precaution, and again, we were right there in the building. We did email their schools to let them know what had happened and ask their teachers etc. to keep an eye on them, but that’s because they’re children (young teens, actually). I wouldn’t dream of keeping them home because strangers got shot in a place we knew many miles away. I was heartbroken about the Manchester bombing but wouldn’t have expected anyone to excuse me from work because of it. Some lousy things happened in my hometown a couple of years ago that were huge news, and I was upset to see my beloved hometown portrayed that way, but I never would have expected to be excused from work because of it.

          The problem with expecting so many considerations for things like that is that when you have a legitimate issue it seems far less important, and it’s easier to dismiss. It sounds kind of like that’s where the OP’s boss is at the moment.

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          1. Snark

            Boiled down, I think OP has some expectations of emotional labor from the people around them that some of them are either unaware of or unwilling to perform.

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            1. Falling Diphthong

              I wonder if OP is older, but previously worked somewhere that was super emotionally invested in everyone? Or is new to work and is applying a more childlike model. Teachers and friends are much more likely to respond to a mistake by asking if there’s stressful stuff going on elsewhere in your life.

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            2. Not So NewReader

              I wondered if OP brought in the personal angle to help drive home the point of the severity of the problem.

              I worked in a place where no one had two minutes to ask you how your weekend was or anything. As the years dragged on, the job wore on me. I don’t need besties at work but at least share something of passing interest once in a while. We are all fellow human beings, not a piece of office decor.

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          2. Falling Diphthong

            The problem with expecting so many considerations for things like that is that when you have a legitimate issue it seems far less important.

            This is important. You can really undercut your very legitimate work grievance by complaining that people don’t ask about your vacation, or understand why you don’t want to go to a meeting.

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            1. Anion

              Yes, it (rightly or wrongly) becomes part of the “Ugh, Anion’s whining about not feeling important/cared about again,” or “Anion’s expecting people to be uberaware of her every mood and feeling and grant her special favors because of them again,” white noise.

              If everything is a five-alarm fire, then nothing is.

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              1. Lissa

                Definitely agree. And since there’s no objective standard of what is “important enough”, the metric it’s going to be measured against is how everybody else reacts – if you are wildly out of sync, even if you’re “right”, it doesn’t matter. For example I had a coworker who got legitimately really upset by news stories, celebrity deaths etc. This was “real” to her, absolutely! But since nobody around her also felt that way, and it was always her talking about those things, she came off as dramatic in that environment. In another she might come off as normal and I’d be the ogre who doesn’t crowd around a phone watching a sad video about school shootings set to music, but hey…gotta know your environment.

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            2. Not So NewReader

              .I believe the technical term here would be “BEC stage”. This is the stage where the person cannot do anything right, ever.

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          3. JP Vaina

            Hi all,
            Letter writer here. Just to clarify on the matter of the shooting. I had someone at the shooting (and it’s the deadliest shooting in the past months), and I explained that to my boss, before he pulled me into a meeting, which I went to.

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            1. Susanne

              That’s an important clarification. There is a distinction between “there was a shooting in my hometown” and “OMG I just got a call my brother is in the hospital and I’ve got to get out there.” Was this in the moments where you didn’t know your loved one was actually safe? That’s an entirely different situation where any decent person would be – go make your phone calls. The way you worded it, though, it sounded as though you just expected to be waived from a meeting just because a bad thing happened in your hometown, and you expected everyone to know it was your hometown.

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            2. Doreen

              This makes me think the communication problems are not entirely one-sided, since that information is important in assessing your manager’s behavior.

              There’s a lot of room between “there was a shooting in my hometown” and “my sister was shot in that shooting in Hometown” , and the appropriate reaction from the boss is going to vary based on the specifics.

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          4. Prudencep

            But things like this effect people in so many different ways. I live in a country far from France and when there were attacks there some of the French staff in our organisation were a mess. I’m not sure we’d give as much space as a day off, but we certainly recognised that they were shocked, might have had friends or family that were impacted, and if they were upset enough that they couldn’t focus on a meeting then I’d rather move it to the next day if there was flexibility to do that.

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          5. Jo

            Yeah, that kinda bothered me, too. I know that people have different reactions to things like that but…

            When I worked in Afghanistan, it wasn’t that unusual for us to periodically spend most (if not all) of the night sitting in the dark listening to a guesthouse being attacked a few blocks away, then still be expected to show up at the office on time as usual and get a full day’s work in. Heck, sometimes we would be in the office when something happened and still be working while it was going on.

            Now that I’ve typed all that out, in hindsight I realise that maybe that particular experience falls a little too far on the “so incredibly not normal” side of the work spectrum so I guess this might not be as relevant. But still.

            If you’re off your game for whatever reason that particular day, the onus falls on you to arrange your schedule to it affects work as little as possible, maybe giving your boss a heads up that you can’t make any last-minute meetings. But expecting your boss to just automatically infer that you’re upset and therefore not as productive that day? That won’t work.

            Reply
      6. Agatha_31

        Yeah, I think if you haven’t worked for a boss like this, it doesn’t *sound* bad from the outside, but on a day to day basis over years, it can have a *really* detrimental effect. And I mean, I agree that not asking about vacation or not happening to know your hometown is not a big deal, but *in conjunction* with a complete lack of interest in your professional development… a job like that can be soul-killing in a thousand little ways.

        Reply
        1. Prudencep

          I had a boss who bullied me and some colleagues and any time we tried to explain what he did people on the outside would just say “is that IT??” because if we described his actions they made us sound petty. But when you’re living the experience every day and directly impacted by things like tone of voice or aggressive body language it gets to you, but describing them to others is hard.

          Reply
      7. Plague of frogs

        Also this: “ongoing communication issues for almost two years of us working together, to the point where people have been brought in to mediate the issues at hand. Every time I bring up the types of issues I’m having to upper management, trying to keep them as professional as possible, they acknowledge them and say that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing. I’ve responded by asking for a new manager, a request which was declined.”

        This sounds very much like a boss I had. He was personally cold (and his boss was working on that with him, not particularly successfully), but I could have gotten past that if he had just been competent. He was a terrible engineer–he had the brains and education, but just wasn’t interested.

        If you’re not interested in people or engineering, why be an engineering manager?

        I told him during a 1:1 once that one of the people on my team had another priority and wouldn’t be working on our project for a few weeks. I asked if this was the correct priority. He said yes. Then in a large meeting with higher-ups, when I was asked about our status and I said that we weren’t moving forward because the priority call hadn’t gone our way, he acted like it was the first time he’d heard about it. So, in our next 1:1 I brought it up and said, “We have a communication problem. What can I do to fix that?” He said he didn’t see any problem and refused to discuss it further.

        He made several important decisions and then didn’t remember them afterward. I wonder if he just literally didn’t listen to a word I said. He also didn’t read my memos or e-mails…maybe I should have tried smoke signals.

        I gave up and moved on, and I couldn’t be happier. My boss is fantastic at the technical stuff and the people stuff.

        After I left, the people under my old boss were interviewed one by one by his boss to determine why he was so ineffective. When they explained, the grandboss argued that they were wrong. So, nothing has changed there. My former boss’s secret to success is that he is good at managing up. He makes absolutely no effort to manage down or perform any useful work. He is smart enough to know that his job is useless and he’s wasting his life, so I guess that is the karma he lives with.

        Reply
      8. Steve

        The letter writer sounds needy to me. No offense intended to her. Rolling eyes a d snide remarks aren’t good but maybe they make a bit more sense in context. If I found out someone took it personally that I did not ask about her vacation, i might show a bit of a negative response.

        I think this is one of those letters where it would be useful to hear the other side of the situation.

        Reply
        1. JamieS

          Definitely agree. Overall I get the impression of neediness but there’s also some things such as the eye rolling and saying professional development is a different topic during a performance evaluation that can either be understandable in context or can be the sign of a terrible manager. For instance, if during a meeting OP repeatedly suggested something that’s already been discussed and decided against (basically not taking no for an answer) that’s a bit different than if OP gave a thoughtful and intelligent suggestion and the manager responded by rolling his eyes. Not that I endorse a manager rolling their eyes for any reason but, while not a great look, I do think it can be a bit more understandable depending on context.

          Reply
    2. JD

      Agreed. Plus maybe he’s annoyed because OP has such high expectations of their social interaction. I’d roll my eyes if someone was offended I didn’t mention that they might be upset due to something happening, not even to them, but in a town they used to live in. OP might think she isn’t showing this if she isn’t flat or saying she is upset but most people show their feelings more than they think.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        Either way though I think this demonstrates that these two people aren’t compatible and OP needs to be looking. Even if nobody’s “wrong” it’s clearly not working out, and having a boss that undermines you in meetings is going to hurt OP’s career long term.

        Reply
      2. Susanne

        Some people are very passive about the emotional labor they expect others to perform, and expect others to be mind-readers. To be honest, if you’re from Sacramento and there’s been a shooting in Sacramento, I’m sorry for it, but I’m really not going to bring it up at the workplace or discuss it with coworkers because what is there really to say? It sucks that this is the umpteenth shooting this year and our nation’s gun laws are an embarrassment? Well, yeah, that and the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. There’s just nothing productive emerging from this kind of conversation other than people agreeing with one another that it’s awful.

        And, if, heaven forbid, you ARE affected and your loved one is currently in a hospital in Sacramento fighting for his life because he was a victim, then certainly you’re not going to wait around for me to ask and get upset when I don’t. You’re going to TELL me “I’m sorry, I can’t make it to the Teapot Conference, my brother’s been shot, I’m on the next plane to Sacramento” and of course I’ll deal with the fallout and express my best wishes.

        But there’s way too many expectation of mind-reading going on in the OP’s mind, IMO.

        Reply
        1. Anion

          Not to mention, some people would consider it *in*sensitive to bring such subjects up. My husband used to dread going to work at his office in England after any sort of big event in the US, because he knew people were going to start poking and prying at him about it.

          Some of us don’t want to talk about that stuff at work, and think it’s far more sensitive and caring to avoid the subject than it is to start gushing about whether we’re okay and what do we think about it etc. etc.

          Reply
        2. Fiennes

          My read on this was that LW has become so annoyed by her boss’s behavior that she’s finding fault where there is none–as the effect of this friction rather than the cause. It could potentially go the other way but we don’t have the info to know for sure.

          Reply
    3. EA

      In this situation- I think it is a mismatch. The boss can be rude, which is on him, but OP is also a little needy. Most bosses are not going to give you the emotional validation the OP is looking for. It isn’t clear if her neediness or his rudeness came first (not that it really matters, but something tells me she acted like this, and then he got annoyed and was rude to her), but its just toxic and she needs to leave. In her next job, she can probably find a better manager, but I do think it would be useful if she worked on taking things less personally and finding internal validation.

      Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Agree. I think OP is looking for a level of emotional/interpersonal investment that is out of the mainstream (and reads as needy, although that could be a reflection of OP’s current mental health and may sound less needy if OP were writing from a better place emotionally).

        So OP has two options. Change their expectations and how they communicate about being overloaded, or move on. But I would gently urge OP to adjust expectations, regardless, because I think their expectations of their boss are not realistic or the norm for most industries.

        Reply
      2. CityMouse

        As a manager, it is really important to try to not have this kind of dynamic develop with an employer, but sometimes needy or high maintenance employees can be frustrating and you can easily get NEC with them. I do think when that happens, the failure is on the part of the manager, but people are human and it happens.

        If the manager was writing in, my advice would be different. I would tell manager to try to break the toxic dynamic and separate real issues from ones that just arise from general frustration.

        Since the employee is writing in, I suggest tempering expectations, limiting contact when not necessary for job duties (to avoid neediness) and to seriously consider a job switch. Once the toxic dynamic has developed it is very hard to fix.

        Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            I was hoping there was some alternative to “bitch” in that phrase–I really want one. I’m tired of these gendered pejoratives (I also want a different term for “resting bitch face.”)

            Reply
      3. paul

        It almost sounds like mutual BEC with them.

        Frankly, I think I’d be weirded out by a boss that is an invested in my *personally* as the OP seems to want. Yes, I want to know I’m not a cog, but my boss isn’t really my friend, and I dont’ want them to be.

        Reply
      4. Been there

        I agree with this. I think sometimes interpersonal relationships can get to the point of no return.

        I think they are both seeing each other through a lens that is not going to be fixed. The mgr is seeing the OP as a pain in the butt, who is emotionally needy, who has repeatedly gone above or around them to get what they want, and complains about doing the work. The OP sees the mgr as someone who doesn’t care about them, won’t help them get ahead, doesn’t acknowledge all the hard work they are doing.

        I think both lenses are coloring how they view their interactions with each other. With that impression in mind, I’m less likely to take the subjective comments at face value as I could easily see how they could be perceived through a particular lens.

        My advice to the OP; look for an internal job transfer and not a same job give me a new manager at your current company, continue to look for a new external job, or lower your expectations to expect a professional and possibly cold relationship with your current manager.

        Reply
        1. Kix

          I certainly relate to this OP. For those familiar with DISC, I’m high S and my current manager is off the charts high D. He has the emotional intelligence of a tennis shoe and, because I’m good at what I do and he trusts me to get things done, he manages me by neglect. In conversations where I tell him that I need a manager, too, he looks at me like I have two heads. Long story short, a manager in a different department has offered me a job, so tomorrow is my last day in this job. My leaving will be difficult for this department, but my manager was unwilling to make a minor change to his manager style that would have resulted in my staying on board. (I’d asked for 5 minute check-ins each day).

          Reply
          1. Prudencep

            We lost a good staff member for what essentially boiled down to this. She and her manager had so many conversations trying to work better together but ultimately they weren’t compatible. We use something other than DISC but they would be the equivalents that you spoke about. We are working on things with the manager but unfortunately she left before things could play out.

            Reply
          2. Been there

            HAHAHA… I laugh because of your description, not your situation. I’ve gone through the DiSC assessment and am on the outer ring, smack dab in the middle of the D section (in other words I’m an off the charts D). I found that training to be really insightful and in some cases it has helped.

            I think though you’ve made the best choice, we all have to figure out where we thrive and it sounds like you two weren’t compatible. I would feel like I was trapped in quicksand, while wrapped in blankets, while wearing 100lb weights on my feet if I had a manager who didn’t neglect me.

            I must be ok hiding it from my coworkers and reports, I had a team full of S’s and C’s and they all thrived. I spend a lot of time and effort keeping the D contained though, so there is that. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard work and can be exhausting at times. And I’m not always successful.

            Reply
            1. TechLoverInBetweenTheDarkSkies

              I can relate to what you have mentioned “I would feel like I was trapped in quicksand, while wrapped in blankets, while wearing 100lb weights on my feet if I had a manager who didn’t neglect me.” The funny thing is that I recently took the DISC assessment and despite being quite the introvert, I ranked as a high DI (Dominance & Influence). When it comes to working in different environments I believe some of us forget about how we mesh with others. For me not to talk about my weekend, or simply have my headphones on for much of the day while I code is normal. But to someone who is used to the occasional chit-chat, I can appear standoff ish – which isn’t the case. I simply like to focus on my work and it is nothing personal to anyone. Maybe it’s the field that I am in, but human contact is minimum at best especially if you are off site. It was eye opening to hear from other S’s and C’s about how they view D’s.

              Reply
      5. BRR

        +1 There are many bosses who will be more what OP is looking for but this isn’t the one. The boss is making no shortage of mistakes here but there are also many people who like a big separation between work and personal lives.

        Reply
      6. Not So NewReader

        I don’t think I could work two years with no positive feed back. I worked in one place where the rule was “If management is not yelling at you, that means you are doing a good job and keep up the good work.”
        The place was one of the most toxic places I have ever worked. Saying please and thank you to subordinates was frowned on as it showed weakness.
        The reason I lasted at that job was because we would all stand around and laugh at the higher ups as they went out of their way not to compliment in any manner. The contempt was so thick you needed a chainsaw to carve it out of there.

        Ever see a pup that has been tied out on a leash and ignored? The pup is starving for attention after a bit. Human beings can go through a similar thing. They need positive interactions. I don’t see proof here that OP is too needy. I would have to know more before reaching that conclusion. I do see plenty of proof that this boss is never, ever going to be the type of boss that OP wants.

        Reply
    4. Dlique

      I’m pretty sure the company wouldn’t have brought in a mediator if the situation wasn’t bad. And the fact that higher ups acknowledged “that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing,” I don’t think there’s any reason to doubt OP’s take on that.

      Reply
      1. LERspecialist

        At least in my organization, we do ADR and mediation when we don’t think it’s that bad, we just think they are talking AT each other or not feeling heard. And frankly, it’s sometimes because we think hearing from a neutral third party that one or both of them are not acting well or are being unreasonable may help. If we thought it was that bad we would be on a different track (separating them, PIPs, discipline, additional training, etc.) We don’t do mediation if we think it will actually make it worse or be unproductive because then everyone just ends up more frustrated, including us. Of course, YMMV

        Reply
      2. Trout 'Waver

        I know people who would be told, “Your manager is amazing and has our full support. Given what you’ve told us, we’re going to follow up with her and make sure she’s aware of the proper way to handle your situation.” and view that as confirmation from the higher ups that their supervisor was terrible.

        Reply
        1. just another day

          omg, yes! I was just wondering if OP heard what they wanted to hear /read into it, when upper management supposedly admitted that boss isn’t a good manager.

          It feels like OP has made a lot of negative assumptions.

          Reply
    5. Brandy

      As we’ve sen on here, there are far, far worse bosses out there. You have to choose your battles. Weigh everything. How is the job otherwise? Do you get paid well, enjoy the work, co-workers?…Yeah he shouldn’t be rolling his eyes but I think youre expecting a little much.

      Reply
        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          Part of me can’t help but wonder if OP’s manager reads this blog and has seen all the horror stories of overly invasive bosses and is bending too far in the other direction.

          Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        There are also way better bosses out there. “It could be worse” isn’t really useful advice – I mean, you could have said the same thing to the poor woman stuck with the unmanager.

        Reply
        1. Colette

          Sure, and the OP is looking to find one, but nothing in this letter hits “quit without a job lined up” territory, IMO. I agree that the OP wants more than this manager is willing to give, and possibly more than it’s reasonable to want from a manager. I mean, it’s nice if my manager asks how my vacation was, but if he doesn’t it’s not because he doesn’t like me – it’s because he’s busy and didn’t see me until I’d been back for a while, or he’s preoccupied with something else, or some other reason that has nothing to do with me.

          Reply
        2. Brandy

          Yeah. Every job has positives and negatives. If she likes everything else, get the validation outside of the office and job hunt since your obviously not happy. But this isn’t worth just up and quitting.

          Reply
        3. Snark

          The unmanager may literally have been The Worst. But it is worth keeping in mind that icy remoteness and transactional interactions are tolerable. OP should make plans to move on as soon as possible, but there’s nothing about this situation that’s untenable in the short-to-medium term or which would require her to quit immediately without plans in place.

          Reply
    6. Sylvan

      Yeah, I agree. And this is all happening after mediators have been brought in and OP has asked for him to be replaced in his job. He might just have had enough, and have chosen not to put in extra emotional work.

      He doesn’t sound like a good boss either, of course.

      Reply
  2. CR

    I have to sympathize with OP even if the issues in her letter don’t sound “that bad.” My former supervisor really, clearly did not like me, as a person. My work was excellent so there was’t anything she could technically complain about – but she just didn’t like me. There wasn’t any overt behaviour that I could track and point out to HR. It was just the general atmosphere when I was with her. She didn’t care about me, didn’t like me, didn’t respect me (but was very chummy with other people in the office, so the difference in treatment was obvious). It made me feel like dirt and that’s reason I started job hunting. It sucks.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Exactly, you started job searching, and that’s what OP should do – but not quit with nothing lined up, because to me that requires something more egregious to be the right move. My last job search took a LOT longer than I thought it would, so I wouldn’t recommend quitting and hoping for the best. OP, your revenge is to get a great new job and quit with your head held high knowing you’re on to better things. Hopefully this thought can buoy you through the months it may take you to find something new.

      Reply
      1. Annonymouse

        I’ve been in a weird position where I was the favourite but also held in contempt from my boss. The same person.

        They’d do surface nice things, ask about my day and personal life, give me first choice on holidays and be more forgiving of my mistakes than others, but it was to get information about me and/or to use to manipulate me later.

        Any “nice” thing would be thrown back into my face months later. I never gave him personal information because I’d seen how he used it against my co-workers.

        OP, it’s not going to get better.

        You either have to accept that you have a need for emotional support and fufilment that he cannot provide and let go of your disappointment around that and be ok with his open contempt towards you

        or

        You change the situation by getting a new job.

        Please make sure you vet your new job properly before leaving for it so as to not jump from one bad situation to another

        Reply
    2. Rachel Green

      I am experiencing this with my current boss right now. I moved to a different group about three months ago, and she’s my new manager. I can tell she doesn’t really like me as a person. And it makes it worse that she’s so chummy with other people in my group, because it makes her attitude about me stand out in comparison. It can be a de-motivator, and I’m constantly wondering if her “favorites” are given more slack than me, or if she’s judging my work more harshly.

      Reply
      1. I See Real People

        I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’ve experienced it as well, and it’s an uncomfortable place to be. I’ve seen it happen to others too. I think that some managers need someone to be less than kind to, for whatever stupid reason they seem to have. It’s unfair and unprovoked in a lot of cases, but it seems to happen a lot. The time it happened to me, I used it as an excuse to move on and I’m glad I did!

        Reply
        1. Your Weird Uncle

          At one of my summer jobs when I was still in college, the manager (who was not much older than me but still in her 20s) would go through very predictable cycles of picking one employee to bear the brunt of her harassment, which she then encouraged other employees to pick up as well. When I started, she was cruelly harassing one young woman my age, who then quit….the manager then picked up another employee to harass, who then quit, and eventually it reached me, and I quit. Hiring family members didn’t stop her, as she managed to alienate even them. I heard that, after I left, she had no one else to harass apart from the owner’s niece, whom she managed to get fired.

          I’ve read that wolf packs have ‘omega’ wolves, who are the social outcasts of the pack, and it reminds me of these types of workplaces.

          Reply
      2. Lil Fidget

        I have dealt with this. You can’t control how your boss will feel, but I think you can work on your “constantly wondering” habit if you choose to. If you do good work and expect a minimum level of courtesy, and truly believe that that is sufficient and will be rewarded even if you’re NOT the best buddy, you may be surprised to find that this is true. My old boss grew to respect me even though we were never buddyfriends and I was eventually promoted to a different department. This is the best case scenario here.

        Reply
      3. Malibu Stacey

        I had a supervisor like this, too, and it’s tough, even though I didn’t really like her either. She would go to lunch with a couple of us but not others. I didn’t *want* to go to lunch with her anyway, but it still felt like she was playing favorites.

        Reply
    3. k.k

      The little things really add up, especially when it’s long term. While nothing on it’s own sounds that terrible, I can understand how after a while every little thing feels like it’s going to be the straw that broke the camels back. Alison’s last line, “giving yourself permission to stop trying to fix the situation can make things significantly easier to tolerate until you can escape.” is how I’d approach it from now on. I can tell you from experience, it’s kind of fun when the boss says something rude or dismissive to you, and you get to think: “That’s fine jerk. Have fun dealing with this project on your own when I’m gone.”

      Reply
      1. Prudencep

        For sure. When it’s something that you’re living every day then all those seemingly small things can start to feel big really quickly.

        Reply
    4. MCM

      I’ve been where you’re at. I asked for the mediation and it’s been a huge difference but I suspect that a threat was applied. Either stop this or that, or you’ll no longer be the chair of the department. But the disrespect is still there, she’s a narcissist horses rump and I’ve learned to look the other way for most of the time. But I have been job hunting these last two years. But I’m being picky. I want a job that I can grow with, pays more and respects their employees.

      As someone told me “Look at the source”. I also went to EAP in order to figure out how to respond to some of the cruelty, just stupid ugly things that would come out of her mouth, etc. She would get this huge smirk when she did something mean. Haven’t seen it in over a year. I think the counseling helped me handle my response and put the blame for her actions back on her. I decided that I would not give her that much power over me, to make me unhappy. I’m not happy with the situation, but working with her isn’t giving me stress headaches anymore.

      Please see about counseling, to gain some tools on how to handle your response to some of the things that were said or being done. It’s hard, really hard. My EAP is four counseling sessions a year, and I used them to help with learning how to communicate with her. I still set her off sometimes, but her response is on her. She doesn’t understand how things fit, the sequence in which things need to be done to get the desired result. I’ve also put ownership back on her when something doesn’t work out the way she wanted it to (rather tried to manipulate it to do). Right now I’m dealing with some serious paranoia on her part.

      You can work on the ownership of your response to your boss, but his behavior is on him. I feel sorry, that just say he’s a bad boss and that’s it. My boss was required to have some leadership training. Your company is letting him down by not addressing his deficiencies and help him develop as a better manager.

      It’s hard to be in the job search mode when your boss just sucks the life out of you. You go home mentally and emotionally tired, and need to work your resume. It’s really hard to do so. I wouldn’t recommend quitting at all. I got laid off and it took me a year to find a job. If you have some leave time take it, use a day or two for a mental break, do something physical or something that will let your brain rest. Than another day or two to work on your resume and some sample cover letters. If you can set up a basic template to work with it’ll be easier to job search.

      Reply
    5. SanDiegoSmith82

      I too worked for a owner/boss like that. I was the highest perfomer in the office, and he LOVED the money I made him, but he just didn’t like me. It was a very small office, and made it very clear from about the 2nd month in that I reminded him of a former employee who’d screwed him over, (simply because of my dark brown hair color of all things) and that no matter how hard I worked I would never be able to overcome her “presence”. I outperformed everyone else sales wise by almost double, so he couldn’t afford to lose me as an employee.

      He finally admitted to not liking me when I found him trying to replace me on craigslist (he left the printout on his desk like an idiot right before a meeting) and I called him out. I lasted 4 more months (only because the economic climate was so bad at that time) and finally quit when he refused to let me use my unused sick/vacation time when my husband was in the ICU and told me I had to come back to work- despite letters from the hospital asking for me otherwise. I quit on the spot, only came back for my final check (which he didn’t sign, like an a-hole, and I had to return to get corrected) and it was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever made.

      You can’t force a relationship, and I wish I’d had some sort of HR to fall back on when I went through this. HR honestly needs to move LW or her boss before this truly blows up. And based on how much the company seems to like her, I’d say Boss needs to go.

      Reply
        1. SanDiegoSmith82

          I hope you are kidding. But in the off chance you aren’t, no. Wouldn’t have changed a thing. He had a thing against any woman who was smarter than he was, and was willing to question his ethics.

          Reply
    6. TootsNYC

      I’ve had a couple of bosses like that.

      The first one, it was pretty clear that she respected my ability to do my job, but she didn’t -personally- like me. She wouldn’t look AT me, for example, if we were ever in a social-at-work conversation, and also wouldn’t address me or respond to anything I said. It must have been a lot of work!
      She gave everyone on the team (even those who didn’t report to her directly) a kind of cool Christmas present, gave her other two reports earrings and a nice shirt, and on the very last day gave me a tiny Christmas candle in a tin (it really looked regifted).

      But professionally, I told HR when we eventually talked about it (came up because of the treatment of the guy who worked for -me- and had quit–not my finest hour), I always felt she thought I was good at my job, and she was welcoming enough when it was WORK.
      That one, I felt I could live with.

      The other one, it really affected how she evaluated what she saw from (or hear about) me. Every single thing, it seemed, was filtered through the “Toots has bad judgment” / “Toots is always wrong” point of view. Even though everytime we’d hash out the issue, it would turn out that my instincts were identical to hers.
      That one almost destroyed me–and I’m not exaggerating. I -should- have quit without a job, but I’m the benefits holder, so….I was job-hunting without success for a long time.

      Reply
    7. Geillis D

      I was there for four years – you have described my former manager to a T, including the chumminess with whoever she deemed were in her circle. I’ve been in my new job for nearly three months now and the difference is staggering, namely not entering the office and feeling like the walls are closing in on me, not feeling dirt-tired when I get home, and generally feeling like a human being rather than a non-entity. I’m still astounded when my new co-workers say “good morning”, “see ya tomorrow” and “have a nice weekend”.

      Reply
    8. Mazzy

      I agree. I was let go from a company years ago that used to always let people go for “bad fit.” The manager of my division just didn’t seem to like me. Any one of the people in the in-crowd could say a joke or a comment or do something trivial, and it would be the most interesting or hillarious thing in the world. But when I said the same things, it was awkward and didn’t get much of a response. I never got a “really” or a “me too” despite them being so enthusiastic about every little thing the “in crowd” said.

      This letter also bothers me because of the lack of development opportunities and concern for them. As a manager, either you have opportunities or you don’t, or you have the hybrid grow-your-role type, but your subordinates should definitely know 1) which the company offers, and 2) what track they are on, if any, and if none, then why. You can’t just avoid the whole topic as a manager.

      Reply
    9. JulieBulie

      Years ago, I had a boss who did not like me, and even said so to my face. (Someday Alison will do an open thread about jerk bosses, and I’ll share some anecdotes.) I did look for a new job, but without any particular sense of urgency because except for having a boss who didn’t like me, everything else about that job was great.

      And I lasted nearly 5.5 years there, which is a record for my 29-year career for various reasons. But when they did their first mass layoff since I’d started working there, I wasn’t surprised to be included. I’m sure I was at the top of his list. At that point, I was really sorry that I hadn’t job-searched more aggressively.

      It sounds as though OP has some fans elsewhere in the company, who hopefully will give her some protection if her boss becomes spiteful enough to try to get rid of her. But it’s always a good idea to keep some irons in the fire.

      Reply
    10. Brooks

      Man, I had typed like this whole thing and then my computer died but again we go.
      Not to play devil’s advocate among some the stories below (which are truly examples of circunstances where the work environment was not healthy), but to display a different perspective…
      I really don’t think a supervisor is obligated to personally connect with every single of one their subordinates. It’s not part of the job description. Being able to develop a WORK relationship with your subordinates in order to tend to their needs in that specific environment, yes, but OP seems to desire more than that.
      In any large group of people, may it be family or work, you’re bound to dislike some of them and like others more than some. It’s a natural consequence of differences in personalities and approachs to work, it just shouldn’t/mustn’t affect how you engage with that specific person in the professional sense.
      I currently work in a government job supervising a group of 8/10 people, most of them working here long before I even started. This is my first post-college job and I began directly in a supervisor position of an already established work-group and I gotta tell you, it sucks at times. These people have work cultures that are engrained in their day to day which are hard to break and dissociate from. Gotta be honest with you, I would have NEVER engaged with some of these people if not for the workplace environment which forces me to, because we just don’t have much in common nor do we mesh well personality-wise. In this current economy, to make “I must have a good personal/individual relationship with my boss/work is a family” a requirement to employment is a tough cookie to crack… You might be narrowing your future opportunities TOO MUCH.
      I have an employee that almost daily interrupts my work (whenever she comes over to my desk to deliver papers for me to sign, for example) to talk about her kids, her sister’s life in Italy, her mother’s health issues. I’m just not interested nor do I want to be interrupted to discuss such matters. And another one of them just has a laugh that drives me insane. Feel free to judge, but I believe I have the right to dislike these people – or those specific characteristics – as a person. I just can NEVER let it interfere in any way with how I handle them as subordinates.
      In the same position I occupy today, during a period of time I was under the supervision of a woman who clearly disliked me. She displayed the same behaviour CR described here, by also disrespecting my work, isolating me at times or being condescending when correcting mistakes/offering input. It made me feel awful at times and was emotionally straining whenever the condescending tone would display itself, but I just had to deal with it. She’s not obligated to like me as much as she liked the others she worked with and I understood that, because I also realised she never gave me a harder time work-wise (given more slack to others or judged my work more harshly) and it was only a personal matter.
      All of this being said, I chose to accept that type of managing because validation from a superior, while deeply appreciated and motivating, is not something I deeply crave in my work. I find the fulfillment I need by doing a great job for the people we serve. I didn’t get a job to make any friends, I have enough already otherwise. By also being in a managing position, I manage to separate how my superior feels about me from how they treat me because it’s what I’m trying to do as manager.

      Reply
      1. Cobol

        You are putting more thought into your comment than I am able to inmy response, and I apologize for that, but I would rethink your approach. I’ve managed that many people and it is hard, but you do need to at least feign a minimal interest in somebody as a person. This is less true for non-professional staff, which it sounds like this may be, but still beneficial.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          I think that it is wise for a boss to get to know something about their direct reports. And share a little of their own lives even if it’s just the cute thing the kid did or the neat award the spouse received. In an extreme situation a boss or for that matter an employee who does not share basic human interest stuff is in danger of being labeled as not approachable, not friendly, and maybe even uncaring or intimidating.

          Not all of our rewards come in our paychecks and benefit packages. I have seen many times where people will stay at a lower paying job simply because the boss gives a crap about them. Bosses who don’t take an interest on even a basic level are risking the gamble that the employee’s compensation package is enough to retain them. And this is not always true.

          I think of the boss who was all business, no personal interest in anyone. Then one day he had a flat tire at work and in the middle of an ice storm. Boss was not familiar with ice storms. Suddenly he needed his people on a personal level. He needed them to care about HIM. His people arose to the occasion and bailed him, something that he had not been able to do for them.

          After that his tone changed. He started asking people what they were doing to help themselves in this climate. And that triggered conversations about other aspects of life. The boss figured out that he was not an island.

          Reply
  3. Snark

    I tend to agree with Alison that, frankly, the not asking you personal questions about your life is not really that bad a thing. It’s not great, of course, and a good boss does do those things, but.

    Where he shades into shit boss territory is stuff like being totally uninterested in discussing professional development, not providing positive feedback and acknowledgement, and making snide comments and eye-rolls. That’s crap.

    That said, OP….if I can be blunt, this is not an unworkable professional relationship, it’s just not a very fulfilling one. I think it’d be really premature to leave the position.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      Another observation: My guess is, yeah, sorry to say, boss doesn’t like you, OP. Complaining to management, mediation, and asking to be transferred are all pretty adversarial actions towards a boss, and someone who’s brittle and not inclined to like you anyway is going to view that as a direct challenge, if not attempted undermining. Requesting a new manager is…..kind of a big ask, and makes a pretty big statement.

      Characterizing people as “needy” or “high maintenance” are often employed as gendered criticisms and I don’t like to use them, but I can easily see your boss forming those perceptions of you.

      Reply
      1. MCM

        Snark,
        I agree with you. It’s the wording. You could have asked to switch to another department, or apply for another internal job that is open.

        OP— is this your first job out of college? It’s nice to be liked by your boss, but it’s not a requirement. The goal is to be respected.

        Reply
        1. SCtoDC

          This was the exact question I wanted to ask as well. I would really like to know if this is OP’s first job. I think we all enter the workforce with at least slightly skewed expectations of how managers will relate to us.

          Reply
        2. Anon non non

          I wondered if this was the OP’s first job out of college as well for no other reason than I could see a lot of myself 20 years ago in this letter. I remember being shut down in all of my attempts at pursuing a friendship and feeling like my manager was cold and distant. She wasn’t. She was only interested in me as an employee and what I could bring to the job. She didn’t care about my weekend plans. I now know that these are healthy boundaries to have.

          Reply
      2. Susana

        Yes, agree, Snark. And asking for a new manager is pretty gutsy (I was going to say, ballsy, to counter the gendered terms of needy and high-maintenance!). It’s really not your place, OP, to ask that someone above you be switched out so you feel more supported. Your boss is not your parent. I know it’s uncomfortable if you feel like a boss doesn’t like you- and much worse if you feel boss likes the rest of the group. But just do your job. That’s why you’re there.

        Reply
        1. Snark

          It’s ballsy enough that it would come off as really, really adversarial, too. Like, burn the bridge adversarial. I’m not sure OP really thought through how asking for a different, nicer manager would come off, but my guess is not well.

          Reply
        2. Lil Fidget

          To be fair, the neediest vortexes of need I’ve known have all been male, so I’d say “needy” isn’t necessarily a gendered term (except for the connotation of “emotional” which is gendered). “High maintenance” is pretty gendered. I hear it almost exclusively used for girlfriends specifically. I do like the substitution of gutsy for ballsy though!

          Reply
          1. Snark

            Jesus, this. The single neediest person I’ve ever known was my (male) college roommate. Holy crap. He was just a black hole.

            Reply
            1. Anon non non

              My husband can be needy – specifically about work related issues. If I had a dollar for every time that man has said “I just don’t feel supported by my manager” I could retire early!

              Reply
              1. Lil Fidget

                My friends and I (all female) use “needy” to describe men we broke up with all the time. It’s not a super professional term though to describe issues with an employee – I’d say “requires too much supervision” or something.

                Reply
                1. nonegiven

                  Needy is the off again, on again relationship my niece had with her first boyfriend. She’d break up, he’d get better for a few months, then gradually get needier and needier. She’d break up again. It was a few times before she broke it off for good. He wasn’t going to change, not long term.

          2. Lissa

            LOL, this is reminding me of a comment I made recently – I don’t understand how women have a rep of being dramatic, because I know at least twice as many drama kings compared to drama queens….

            Reply
    2. neverjaunty

      It’s not unworkable in the sense that the OP can do her day to day tasks, but to be equally blunt, it’s completely unworkable long-term. This boss isn’t going to give OP any professional development, support, or promotion.

      Reply
  4. I'll say it

    Who says professional development is a different topic DURING A PERFORMANCE REVIEW?? And if upper management has acknowledged that he might be a bad manager, how about..maybe not having him be a manager? Or giving him more coaching? What’s up with that part of this whole scenario?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Some employers do separate the “let’s review how you did this year” part of the conversation from the “let’s talk about professional development and the future” part of the conversation. It’s possible that was the case here — or that the boss just wanted to focus on getting through the first part before getting to the second part.

      Reply
      1. MCM

        I’m used to most employers using the evaluation time to ask the employee on how they could approve on any areas that that they feel needs work. Does the employee feel they need more training in an area, or if the staff member would like to be trained further in a section; say you do part 2 & 3 in the chain, but would want a more depth knowledge of the steps in part 1 or 4.

        Reply
          1. JessaB

            Yes, some places do separate it, but when OP asked about it, they should have said “that’s for another conversation,” or something. It’s not that they didn’t want to discuss professional development THEN. It’s that they pretty much didn’t want to discuss it at all. Or they very poorly explained it to the OP and given the already bad communication whatever they said came off as “that doesn’t matter, or we don’t do that here,” or whatever. With a side order of “you? you don’t deserve or qualify for professional development, how dare you bring that up, you should know that you personally should never have dared to ask such a stupid question, because you know you don’t get that.”

            Reply
            1. Mike

              Remember that you’re hearing here one side of a conversation, from someone who is demonstrably quick to take offense at relatively innocuous things. This could easily have been a totally innocuous “let’s focus on the current topic right now” comment without even being inconsistent with what they’re reporting.

              Reply
          2. just another day

            Or maybe the performance review meeting was confrontational / antagonistic and boss felt that a break before the discussion for the future growth and performance would be best – or perhaps there was another meeting scheduled and the review meeting went long and it had to be cut short? It could be so many things that are totally unrelated to whether or not the two topics “should” be discussed together.

            Reply
          3. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night

            Our company does this. “Performance Reviews” and “Setting Goals” are two completely different processes. The only place they intersect is that in order to get a good performance review rating you have to have met or exceeded the goals set the previous year. But setting goals and discussing improvement for the next year is a different meeting at a different time and place.

            Reply
      2. Managing to get by

        Especially if the performance this year is not so great. I have had to tell direct reports that it is helpful to get their performance up to an acceptable level before looking for advancement.

        Reply
    2. AnotherAlison

      I’m also picturing a scenario where the OP is not hearing negative feedback from the manager during the review. If the boss is giving feedback that “X” needs to change for the OP to be considered successful in her job, and the OP is glossing over that and asking when she can get a promotion or go to leadership training, I can see the boss telling her to stop asking about development and listen to her performance review.

      (Not necessarily how it happened, but we hear stories here about the employees who do not hear negative feedback.)

      Reply
      1. JulieBulie

        That’s what I thought of too. Other people in the company may see OP as a high performer, but OP’s boss doesn’t seem to be a fan and I imagined that the review might be focused on negatives.

        Even if I’m imagining that all wrong, the future development topic is a separate thing in my organization too, so it’s not strange if it’s “a different topic entirely.” But the accompanying dismissive attitude still blows.

        Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      It’s actually kind of normal. My performance reviews were often separated from professional development conversations as frequently as they were combined. This is especially common if I have critical feedback for someone. I don’t want to talk development when we haven’t mastered competency in core duties.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        Yeah and our reviews were the basis of our bonus calculations, so that was pretty strictly kept separate. You wouldn’t pay a bonus based on someone’s big ideas for their development, you have to keep focused on their skills and accomplishments over the past year.

        Reply
      2. Judy (since 2010)

        In my experience, there was a prescribed time for talking about performance vs development.

        1st quarter meeting: goal setting
        2nd quarter meeting: development
        3rd quarter meeting: midyear review
        4th quarter meeting: self review
        sometime before Jan 15: performance review

        Reply
    4. TootsNYC

      It’s also not that weird for a manager to say, “Your professional future is not my problem. Your professional PRESENT is the issue.” And to just not ever want to be part of their employees’ personal advancement.

      Reply
      1. Lil Fidget

        Hmm, that’s a little weird to me. Unless they’re paying really, really well or something. Even a decent mangaer should understand that most employees are motivated by growth or income. If a boss said they were never going to entertain any discussion of my progression I’d basically take that as my cue to job search.

        Reply
      2. LBK

        Hmm, I don’t agree there – I think part of being a good manager is developing your employees to prepare them for the next step, whether it’s working for you or elsewhere. That’s part of the job description to me.

        Reply
      3. Prudencep

        I’m really glad I’ve never worked anywhere with that perception. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, but all of my managers (even the bad ones) have been interested in my future development. The last 3 have had an attitude of wanting the best out of me now, but recognising I will move on and wanting to help me get there. After reading so many posts and comments on AAM I think I’ve been really lucky!

        Reply
      4. Lemon Zinger

        Agreed. My boss has little interest in my career, long-term… she is here to manage me in my role as it stands now. She is not responsible for my career path. I am.

        Reply
      5. Not So NewReader

        Many of my bosses have not cared about my tomorrow. It’s the excellent bosses who do this. Mediocre bosses skip this part.

        My uncle managed a department for a well known media type business. He said he would help his employees even if it meant they would move to another company. An odd thing happened. The more he helped them the more likely they were to stay in place. The reason was my uncle. If they moved they wanted to make sure they were getting another good boss.

        Reply
  5. Murphy

    I can relate to some of this…my boss and I never talk about anything personal to an absurdly weird degree. I didn’t even know that he was married to someone else we work with occasionally until I’d been here a year and a half. I had a baby earlier this year and he never asks about her. He used to go out of town and not even tell me. Now he occasionally tells me, but does not tell me where he’s going or why. (By why, I mean work or vacation. Otherwise it’s none of my business.) One of his out of town trips was because a professional society, of which I am a member, gave him an award for a program that I also did a lot of work on. (I don’t deserve to share in the award or anything like that, but to know that my boss was getting an award for a project that I was heavily involved in would have been nice.) But I don’t get all of these other negative/snide remarks or anything like that, so I just roll with it.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Yeah this dynamic can exist and for some people it’s fine, other people feel lousy about it. Clearly OP is in the latter category. Personally I think it can be nice. However the snide remarks would really get to me over time, that’s a different line to me.

      Reply
    2. Anon non non

      My boss is like this too. I was actually shocked when she asked about one of my kids during a monthly one on one meeting. She actually asked several questions and offered some helpful advice about an issue I was having with him which was appreciated but it was the first time in 3 years that she’d asked a personal question beyond “How are you doing?” at the start of our meeting.

      Reply
    3. Susanne

      On the other extreme, there are people on here who want to be able to walk down the hallway and not even acknowledge others, say good morning, or engage in one minute’s worth of how-was-your-weekend at the water cooler, and they don’t seem to get that some minimum level of acknowledge of others is part of being a functional human being and coworker. They are at one extreme, and I suspect the OP may be somewhat towards the other end of the spectrum.

      BTW, as someone who is on the low end of the chit-chat spectrum (but not on the spectrum!), I will ask you about how your vacation was and nod and smile and say I’m glad you had a nice time, but frankly I’m not paying one bit of attention and it’s going to go in one ear and out the other for me. I just file it under social niceties that I know will make you want to work with me more. Which begs the question, OP: Do you really care whether your boss cares about the shooting in your hometown, or do you just want to feel as though he does?

      Reply
  6. Detective Amy Santiago

    Is there another way for you to get emotional fulfillment from your job?

    I’m the type of person who likes to feel like what I’m doing is making a difference to *someone*. I haven’t always had boss’s that acknowledge or appreciate that and I learned to find those moments other ways. If you’re dealing with customers or clients, pay attention to their reactions. Even if your boss doesn’t seem to care, at least you’ll know that you did something to brighten someone else’s day.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      This is a great suggestion. I would not try to prompt that, but feedback doesn’t always roll downhill. (Bullshit does, though. PROTIP!)

      Reply
      1. Still Lurking

        I’m usually so poised and professional at work, even when scrolling this site but I always end up doing such an embarrassing howl-laugh out loud in my cube to your posts. I’m grateful my cube-mate works from home or is on travel most of the time.

        Reply
      2. JessaB

        I have been known to, at the point I get fed up with not hearing how I’m doing to directly ask, “I get some people are fine without hearing anything, but I’m the kind of person who needs to be told, hearing nothing does not to me, signal I’m doing okay, it just means nobody is telling me anything. How’m I doing? Thanks.”

        I try not to do it very often, I’m talking on the order of a few months at a time, but I’ve only ever had one boss that I had to do it with more than once. Just explaining my communication style to them usually gets a once in a blue moon “it’s okay Jessa youre fine,” or a “well it’d be nice if you didn’t make all the slide backgrounds purple, I hate purple (that’s a joke not an actual complaint.)

        But yes I have job anxiety because of a string of really awful bosses.

        Reply
  7. Wannabe Disney Princess

    LW, you said it yourself – you need emotional fulfillment. It doesn’t appear you get that from your work, so you’re depending on your boss to supply that for you. Doesn’t mean he’s a bad boss, per se (eye rolling and condescending remarks aside) it just means he’s a bad boss *for you*. I agree with Allison, accept him for who and what he is in the short term while you look for another job that will be a better fit in the long term.

    Reply
    1. Lil Fidget

      Although I would recommend not just trying to find that fulfillment through approval at your job, necessarily! I think it’s powerful to be okay with a neutral relationship with bosses and coworkers as long as you do your work well and are treated with courtesy – and outside of work maybe you focus on your affectionate relationships, or volunteer at an animal shelter, or something, to give you those warm fuzzies. It maybe limiting career wise if you have to combine the two (although having said that if this is OP’s thing to cash their chits on, it can certainly be their priority in future jobs).

      Reply
      1. Wannabe Disney Princess

        Oh, heaven’s no. I didn’t mean to imply that your one and only emotional fulfillment should be through your job. I just meant in *this instance* for *this job*. LW mentioned that she didn’t feel that for the job, so that’s where I was coming from.

        But I do agree – realizing you don’t have to LIKE everyone is powerful. And, overall, good for your mental health.

        Reply
        1. Lil Fidget

          Oh man sometime around the time I turned 30 I realized this (I don’t have to like everyone and they don’t have to like me – and we can all still work together and that’s fine) and it was SO. Powerful. I wish that for all my younger acquaintances now who I see still struggling with it just like I used to.

          Reply
        2. Snark

          And! Not everyone has to like YOU, either. Life got a lot easier when I realized that not everybody is going to love me, and that’s cool.

          Reply
          1. Prudencep

            I thought I’d got past it until I had to start performance managing. It wasn’t so much that I cared if the particular employee liked me, but I didn’t want people to find out and think I was awful! I got over that hump again, but was surprised that worry had come creeping out again.

            Reply
      2. C in the Hood

        Yeah, I was thinking the OP was putting too much emphasis on being emotionally fulfilled by her job. I mean, it’s a job (again, the boss’ snarkiness aside). Perhaps personal investment in a hobby, a club, friends, church, etc.? would help allay some of her emotional needs.

        Reply
        1. Prudencep

          I’m the type of personality that needs some emotional/personal connection to be motivated at work, but even then I hate people asking personal questions! But I get a lot of that connection from peers outside my team, and I’ve also found networking events a great help. A space where you can have high level friendly conversations (although some have become proper friends), as well as bouncing ideas off one enough. So maybe some industry events or meet ups if they’re available?

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          Or is she emphasizing that she is at the bottom of a black hole and can’t find the way out?

          Sometimes, OP, the solution to our setting is doing the very thing that exhausts us or the very thing that we don’t want to do. And that is the answer. On the good news side, once we do this Thing successfully then life gets better.

          Reply
      3. paul

        I’ve got to say, some of my best working relationships have been with people I wouldn’t hang around with. That doesn’t mean I despise them or don’t respect them, but they’re not the sort of folks I’d hang around with. I have had to work with people I truly couldn’t respect and that was much more challenging.

        And my worst boss ever was a boss that wanted so badly to be buddy buddy with everyone.

        But we each do our work, and we’re reasonably cordial at work, which is distinctly missing here.

        Reply
  8. TimTamGirl

    LW, I’d bet that if your boss were better with professional issues, you wouldn’t be as bothered by the (lack of an) interpersonal relationship… but I’d also bet that if your boss were super-friendly but still a s***house manager, you’d have ended up just as unhappy as you are now; it may have taken longer, but it would have taken a toll eventually.

    It sounds like you’ve worked really hard to address these issues in every way you could, and you should be proud of that. But at this point, it sounds like you’re at the bitch-eating-crackers stage, and quite frankly that the feeling is mutual. I would urge you to follow Alison’s advice and put your energy into finding a new job where you are respected as a professional.

    Reply
  9. Rusty Shackelford

    Yeah, he sounds like a jerk, but it also sounds like you might expect more personal interaction than a lot of bosses are going to provide. Someone can be a really good boss and still not realize there was a shooting in your hometown, or ask about your vacation.

    Reply
    1. nonegiven

      Once in a while I watch the news and find out they caught a shooter from weeks ago that I never heard about because I don’t watch the news very often. I really hate the news and if it was your brother that got shot, I’d never know unless you told me.

      Reply
  10. Dachelle

    Having worked with a boss who had a similar personal style for over a decade, I wish I had moved on much, much sooner. There were other serious management issues that contributed to poor staff morale and high turnover in our office, but just the sheer robotic nature of how he would interact was wearing, especially for someone like me who has a completely different personality. It ended up biting me when he didn’t fight for me after a faculty member (we were academic staff, though not supervised by this faculty member) didn’t like a decision I made and decided to form a vendetta against me. I’m sure our poor personal relationship made it much easier for my boss to just cave. Luckily I’m in a new position now with higher pay and great people who suit me better personally and seem invested in me professionally. I wish I hadn’t wasted all those years making myself miserable trying to please a boss who was just never going to appreciate me.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      This. OP, the biggest problem here is that this has gone on too long and has been too severe. I don’t think you are wrong in expecting some personal interactions here and there, this guy you are working for is not capable of giving you this.
      Learn to read people and learning how to figure out what their limits are is very helpful in that it can sometimes save our sanity. I had a boss who lied. This was a person who was not able to tell reality from fiction. So I had to tell myself that this boss was limited in her ability to tell the truth. This way I never got the false hope that she would become an honest person. Can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

      Reply
  11. Lil Fidget

    OP, you might want to also look at some of the comments from this week’s question from the young woman looking to disengage emotionally from the workplace. That story ended badly but some of the comments might also be helpful to you if you’re struggling with feeling hurt that you’re not more friendly with your boss. Basically, take the money and disengage when you can. (Although in both cases I’d say job search). I’ll post the link in my next comment.

    Reply
  12. nnn

    A thought experiment I find useful in these situations, which may or may not be useful to OP:

    Imagine that you googled your boss and found out something about them that makes them a kind of person you don’t like dealing with and don’t feel you can trust IRL. The sort of thing that would be a dealbreaker for willingly pursuing a social relationship, but isn’t bad enough for your employer to consider firing them. The sort of characteristic that, in a family member, would make you dread seeing them, but not enough to completely avoid all family events. For me, this would be if they have politics that I consider harmful, but imagine whatever would elicit this feeling in you.

    Think about how you would behave around and respond to your boss in this situation. You’re probably be a bit colder around them. You’d probably be a bit more formal. You’d probably make sure your employee-manager interactions were beyond reproach, but avoid any more interactions than necessary. You don’t expect you’ll ever have a positive relationship with them because of The Bad Thing You Found Out About Them, but you need a functional working relationship for the duration of your working relationship.

    Now treat your boss that way while you look for a job you’ll be happier in. They aren’t the kind of person you can have a positive relationship with, but all you need to do is make it functional in the interim.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      Oh how true. And there are coworkers who fall into a similar category. With these people it can be very helpful to just focus on the work and be on top of your game at all times. And it’s helpful to expect less from them.

      Reply
  13. CleverGirl

    I personally would rather my boss not ask me about my vacation or any other personal stuff. It just makes me awkwardly struggle to make small talk, which I dislike, and it makes me feel highly uncomfortable.

    Reply
    1. MashaKasha

      Yeah, I admit, that part of him sounded like my dream boss. Which tells me the two of them are just not compatible on a personal level, and it is snowballing from there, with each side getting more aggravated with the other with every passing day.

      Personally, it’s not like I’m going to tell my boss in detail how my vacation went; or that he wants me to (if he is for some reason dying to know the details of what I did on vacation, then we might have a whole new set of issues). With most people, it’ll be “How was your vacation?” – “Great, thank you” (both go back to work). I’m perfectly fine with not having that conversation.

      Reply
      1. Susanne

        Great observation, MashaKasha! Is the OP *really* looking to download all the fun she had on her vacation, or is she just looking for someone to mime the words?

        Reply
  14. Tuxedo Cat

    I think professional issues are a problem and they are something you should look out for in your next position, particularly when it comes to him commenting on your vacation and not answering questions re. professional development.

    That said, if I were you, I’d really reconsider some of these things as an issue. The shooting issue stuck out to me. As folks pointed out, he may forget where you’re from. I understand shootings are serious, but unless you were connected pretty tightly to the shooter or the victim(s) or there was some fairly unique aspect to it (like a terrorist attack), it wouldn’t even register to me to ask. This is partially because shootings occur probably several times a month where I grew up. It seems a bit much that you wouldn’t “productive that specific day or interested in attending a last-minute, non-essential external meeting” unless you had some connection beyond being from the place where the incident happened. Your boss thinks this is an issue, I wouldn’t blame him although I wouldn’t have handled it the same way he idd.

    Reply
    1. Christmas Carol

      I find I’m never much interested in attending last-minute non-essential external meetings, but I didn’t know lack of interest on my part was a justifiable reason for getting excused.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yeah, that’s kind of a strange locution. The more involved you are and the older you get (and therefore the older the people you know and love get), the more you have to balance upsetting information with doing your job whether you’re feeling it or not.

        Reply
        1. Prudencep

          I think it depends on the role and the meetings. I have the luxury now of being senior enough that most people will be happy to reschedule around me (I definitely don’t abuse that though!) and that I am comfortable pushing back and asking if it’s really something we need to meet about or can we just have a quick call (I have sat through far too many pointless meetings). I think it might depend how OP phrases things. I’d be far more open to someone saying “is there any chance I can sit this meeting out, because of [insert appropriate level of personal detail]” versus “these meetings are pretty pointless so you won’t mind if I miss this one”

          Reply
  15. Intel Analyst Shell

    Do you want “emotional fulfillment” in the form of a close nit work family or in the form of a job that gives you immense satisfaction? I get the feeling the emotional fulfillment you’re looking for is that of a personal relationship with your boss/coworkers and not necessarily in the actual work you do. It’s not your workplaces job to give any emotional fulfillment in the form of friendship and comradery.

    Sidenote: If he’s someone from a decent sized town where shootings happen regularly, a shooting occurring in your hometown is not going to mean anything to him and should not interfere with your work (unless the person shot was a close friend/family member), it’s unfair that you’re counting something like this against him.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      I think it’s true no matter where he’s from. I was thinking the OP meant Las Vegas, so it’s a serious event, but I still probably wouldn’t remember that a report used to live there or expect her to work less that day if she didn’t have a direct connection.

      Reply
      1. Prudencep

        Definitely don’t want to derail this about guns and shootings, but as a non-American this is rather eye opening. If we had a shooting I think we’d have half the organisation off in shock!

        Reply
        1. Snark

          I’m finding that my own resignation is appalling me more than the actual news, lately. Been that kind of year here in the US.

          Reply
        2. nonegiven

          The fact is most of the shootings in the US are gang or drug related, whether it’s one gang member shooting another, shooting a home invasion/carjacking victim, or missing the gang member they are after and hitting someone in the house he happened to be standing in front of. Most of the shooters were already involved in criminal behavior before they shot someone.

          Outside of those types of shootings, we really don’t have any more than the average European country. Even these whack jobs like the guy in Las Vegas, that hit the news all over the world, statistically are only a blip compared to the gang violence that goes on here every day.

          Reply
          1. Intel Analyst Shell

            Totally correct. I work in the law enforcement field and it is very rare that we get a gun case that involves total strangers or people who have zero dealings with the shady side of life.

            Reply
  16. Lady Phoenix

    I think you should remove the people category from your list of issues with the boss. Not asking about vacations and such is kinda a thing that happens, even to the best of us.

    I am more concerned with the fact your boss refuses to communicate with you and that someone else had to override your boss to promote you. It sounds like your boss is blocking your from having any business improvement at all (rolling his eyes in meetings, snapping at you for heavy workloads, refusing to give you any comments on inprovement) and THAT is a red flag.

    You might want to ask for a transfer to the department of the person that DID promote you, and then consider job searching if the request is denied. You do have someone supportive enough to support you, so asking to work for them might motivate your job without taking a big leap into the unknown.

    Reply
  17. LERspecialist

    At least in my organization, we do ADR and mediation when we don’t think it’s that bad, we just think they are talking AT each other or not feeling heard. And frankly, it’s sometimes because we think hearing from a neutral third party that one or both of them are not acting well or are being unreasonable may help. If we thought it was that bad we would be on a different track (separating them, PIPs, discipline, additional training, etc.) We don’t do mediation if we think it will actually make it worse or be unproductive because then everyone just ends up more frustrated, including us. Of course, YMMV

    Reply
  18. palomar

    LW, I agree with the general consensus that some of this (not asking about your vacation, not being aware that you’re upset about a shooting) really isn’t that bad, but some of it is (rolling his eyes when you speak, refusing to discuss your professional development during a performance review). I think it would be premature to leave this position, especially without something else lined up. What I’d suggest is trying to find emotional fulfillment outside of work. Many jobs (I’d go so far as to say most jobs) are not emotionally rewarding. Have you considered volunteering with an organization that does charitable work on an issue dear to your heart? That would probably be the very best place to get emotional fulfillment.

    Reply
  19. Malibu Stacey

    I guess, for me, if my boss rolled his eyes at me and made side remarks that I was taking to much vacation (assuming he approved it), I wouldn’t *want* him to ask me about my vacation or about a tragedy in my hometown. It would seem really fake to me.

    Reply
    1. Brandy

      And really he probably has a lot going on to remember every reports hometown. I have a lead here that’s from the desert area California, but I forget the name and if I say anything about it on the news, unless she brings it up, I wouldn’t know.

      Reply
    2. paul

      I have to confess I don’t remember everybody’s home town and we are a small team. I tend to remember it if I have a coworker born out of the country (three over the years), but even then I can tell you maybe the province/state/territory but not the city.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        Oh, boy, I would feel really put on the spot and reminded of “not being from around here” if my boss suddenly started asking me how I feel the latest events in my home country. Especially since I do not follow them in the news. Every so often, someone at work tries to have an in-depth talk with me about what’s currently going on in Home Country. It feels awkward. Which is to say, you aren’t doing anything wrong from my standpoint.

        Reply
      2. fposte

        I initially thought by “home town” the OP meant town where she lived, so, like, a suburb of where the office was, because it didn’t occur to me that I would express sympathy based on where somebody used to live. And my office is seriously up in each other’s business in the nicest possible way. So I do think the OP’s expectations are out of line for a lot of offices, and I think there’s a risk that she’ll overselect for personal involvement (“We’re just like a family!”) in future and find problems in that direction as well.

        Reply
  20. Emi.

    Every time I bring up the types of issues I’m having to upper management, trying to keep them as professional as possible, they acknowledge them and say that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing.

    So they’re going to fire or demote him?

    I’ve responded by asking for a new manager, a request which was declined.

    Your office is full of bees.

    Reply
  21. Falling Diphthong

    Stripped down:
    1) Your boss rolls his eyes when you make suggestions, doesn’t like you, and your promotion went around him.
    2) Upper management is well aware of the problem, and they won’t move you somewhere else to address it.

    This means that you should look for a new job. There’s no reason to quit this one preemptively, though. Take your time to look for a better match, while following the advice to not worry about all the emotional stuff he isn’t doing–he’s not doing it AT you.

    The emotional stuff that he isn’t doing–is this your first job out of college? Because so much of this sounds boring and normal–e.g. most people will not connect a shooting happening somewhere to their report not being able to attend a meeting. Acknowledging that you have bad days covers such a wide range of territory, from wanting a boss who acknowledges that 15 hours of work isn’t going to happen in 8, to wanting a boss who accepts that you messed up the report because life happens and people have bad days and you mess up stuff and it’s not your fault.

    Reply
  22. Everything Bagel Fan

    I was in a similar situation, my boss openly disliked me and wasn’t shy about it. It was awful, and it made work a nightmare. Thankfully, I was able to find a job with a boss who I work with effectively. It just seemed that no matter what I did I would never remedy the bosses contempt for me. Not sure what I did or why he was so rude but he also made constant “damn millennial” comments. I am happier and not so stressed by open comments and verbal warfare. Stay til you find a new position Op. I suggest working actively with tools Alison has given in the job search. You can do it! Hugs!

    Reply
  23. Old Jules

    My pet peeve is having leaders who disrespects me. I’ve had quite a few over the years. More then my share. That is why I keep on moving. My advice is to figure out a coping mechanism while you look for another job. I was lucky to be headhunted each time for a new role. I don’t need socializing from people at work, I’m good. It can get lonely but you eventually find your tribe. But to have a boss who publicly humiliates me in meetings for no reason, who enjoys showing me up in front of my peers, I left soon after. He told me at my farewell that I’ll regret my decision. Maybe a little because I like my work and the people I work with, but it’s worth my self esteem and sanity. I can’t go to work every day waiting for the other shoe to drop (i.e. I wonder how else is he going to embarrass me in public). I can’t. The quirky thing is that we are fine personally when we have one on one, he just can’t stop himself when we are in meetings together. Like he feels he has something to prove. He is 4 level higher than I was. IDK what his deal was… I got out.

    Reply
  24. Viola Dace

    I was at work when my father called to tell me that my mother’s hospice nurse had been killed in a mass shooting. This was someone I knew and cared about.
    My boss had no idea this had happened, and I wouldn’t think of sharing it with him or expecting he would ask, even though he knows where my hometown is.
    I just got through the day and went home. Looking for any kind of emotional fulfillment at work is not a path that generally ends well.

    Reply
    1. Susanne

      But more to the point, suppose you were sitting at your desk, visibly shaken by this type of news, and your boss walks by to engage in a conversation, and it’s evident you are distracted and not on top of your game. Would you be expecting the boss to say “what’s the matter” or would you proactively say “I’m sorry, I’m a little distracted, I just got some upsetting news, blah blah blah”? I think some people just expect that others will inquire, and if you really are distracted by something that no one would otherwise know about, I think it’s incumbent on you to explain why you’re distracted in the moment. In a normal office setting, people would murmur sympathy and ask if you go need to make a few phone calls or something, but they’d also move on.

      Reply
  25. Not So Super-visor

    This reminds me so much of how my boss and one of my direct reports interact. Neither of them can stand the other one. Some of it is based on repeated attendance and performance issues, but the majority of it is based on an incident 3 years ago where the employee was caught lying and she was almost fired. She handled it badly (lots of crying and angry accusations) and claimed the my boss said a lot of nasty things about her. She filed a complaint with HR who had to mediate. She kept her job, but Boss has held it against her ever since. Whenever she calls in, I hear about it. He frequently refers to her as “worthless” or of bad character (to me only). She gets upset with him claiming that he’s disrespectful about not giving her personal condolences when her grandfather passed or asking about her current health condition (she is dealing with some fairly serious heath issues at the moment). While I can empathize with her feeling that way, I also understand that he wants to limit any communication with her going forward to eliminate the need for more HR mediation.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I can’t decide what amazes me more in this story: reacting to getting caught lying by falsely accusing your grandboss of stuff that could get him fired and which required mediation to resolve, somehow managing to keep your job after doing that, or expecting that person to do emotional labor for you or really anything beyond display icy, remote professionalism towards you.

      It’s like a lasagna of insanity. So many layers.

      Reply
  26. Countess Boochie Flagrante

    I think you may have buried the lede a bit here, OP — the interpersonal stuff really doesn’t matter that much, but the professional-level stuff really does. Your manager doesn’t need to socialize with you or ask you questions about your time off, but publicly making it clear that they think you’re an idiot is genuine and legitimate Bad Management, and that’s where I think we really want to be focusing. If you do need to have further conversations with higher-ups about this, please make sure you’re leaning heavily on the things that actually serve to undermine you, and not on the stuff that’s just your boss being a jerkish human being.

    Reply
    1. Snark

      I think OP has already burned so much capital at this point that they don’t really have any to burn on further complaints unless it’s big-item, call-HR type stuff.

      Reply
        1. just another day

          Beyond embezzlement or sexual harassment, OP’s concerns are at this point just being heard as petty complaints from a habitual complainer (again, perception is what matters here – it isn’t that OP doesn’t have some legitimate complaints).

          Reply
  27. Cautionary tail

    This boss sounds like most bosses I’ve had and I’m in my fifties. The only person who truly cares about your satisfaction, success, career, day, vacation and everything else is you. That’s a lesson that everyone learns sooner or later.

    I’ve seen the eyerolls, the email reply-alls that are put-downs to great ideas, and all that. If you let it eat you up inside it will only raise your stress levels.

    I wish you well.

    Reply
  28. Shadow

    There are some nuggets in there that make me think your boss doesn’t respect you because of some performance issues she sees and instead of addressing them is just tolerating the situation, and is showing some passive aggressiveness. Not ideal, but pretty common to just sort of communicate as little as possible and stick your head in the sand in hopes of the problem resolving itself.

    To me the only way forward is to either accept it as is or have a serious conversation with her about your concerns that you may not be meeting her expectations. Obviously if she has issues she should be raising them but there’s nothing wrong with meeting with your boss, telling her you’re getting the feeling that she’s not satisfied with your performance (as evidenced by the eye rolling and snide comments), and that you’re interested in finding out what you can do better.

    In other words it sounds like you’re hyper focused on her passive agressiveness, when that’s just a symptom of the performance issues that haven’t been addressed.

    Reply
  29. Trout 'Waver

    I just want to point out that a large number of people don’t want their bosses asking personal questions, because they feel obligated to answer when they would rather not.

    Reply
    1. just another day

      Yes! My boss doesn’t even know I got married three years ago (worked here ten years and we know each other well)! An extreme example, but work is work and life is life.

      Reply
  30. just another day

    I’d like to challenge OP about the note “at the behest of someone else at the organization” – this seems like a big assumption that the boss wasn’t involved in the decision at some level and very unlikely that a company would promote an employee without input and support from the boss.

    Reply
  31. just another day

    Also, there is something about OP’s perspective here that makes it seem like they are making himself/herself appear to others that they are the problem, rather than the boss.

    Also, this is a major relationship killer between OP and boss, “Every time I bring up the types of issues I’m having to upper management…”. Why would boss appreciate or respect OP, when OP is regularly undermining him/her? Further, the last of meaningful response from the upper management about the issues show OP that escalating these kinds of issues isn’t appropriate – not their monkeys. In my experience, when staff escalates regular complaining to upper management, the issues aren’t addressed by upper management, but rather the message to the direct boss is to “deal with it”. Anytime employees are identified by multiple levels of management as someone that needs to be dealt with the employee / OP has become the problem, not the boss – even if boss is a key part of the problem. Perception is reality as they say.

    Reply
  32. L

    I’d find it pretty weird and insulting if I was gone on vacation and then my boss said nothing to welcome me back or ask how my time off was. I wouldn’t expect a thirty minute sit-down about it, but just a little acknowledgement is expected, right? It’s pretty strange to just act like nothing happened or be a jerk about how much time I was taking off. I once had a very cold, easily annoyed manager who didn’t give a crap about me, but I’m pretty sure even she would have at least said “welcome back” or asked if I had a good time. So I totally get the OP’s discomfort here.

    I certainly don’t think it’s a good idea to try to be best friends with your boss, but it’s also nice if they make you occasionally feel like people, not just another desk warmer.

    Reply
    1. Susanne

      Yeah, but really, it doesn’t usually go beyond “Did you have a nice time?” “Yeah, the weather was great / the food was delicious.” But other people’s vacations are not the Big Deal in my work life; I wasn’t sitting around bemoaning the person being gone or jumping up and down inwardly because they are now back.

      Reply
    2. Stellaaaaa

      Lots of people take vacation time without actually going on vacation. It’s possible that OP’s manager forgot/never knew that OP had gone anywhere. I’ve known a few people who assumed that everyone always WENT SOMEWHERE during school/work vacations and it takes them a while to realize that most adults don’t greet every long weekend with the same excitement as a second grader on summer vacation.

      Reply
  33. always in email jail

    A few people have pointed this out, but I think it deserves to be stated un-nested.

    Through complaining/reporting equally about the personal stuff (not asking about your vacation, not remembering your hometown, etc.) and the professional stuff (eye rolling in a meeting!), you’ve probably become white noise to upper management. They’re much less inclined to take your issues seriously when you bring the same amount of gusto to “He didn’t ask me about my vacation” and “He rolled his eyes in a meeting with external partners”. I’m not saying that’s right or fair, but it’s the way it is.

    Also, adding to the chorus of folks who say that a shooting in your hometown that did not directly impact you or your family is not an excuse to miss a meeting. If it is that upsetting due to other underlying issues, then you need to go home for the afternoon, not stay at work without participating in meetings.

    Reply
    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I’m not sure that the OP has brought up the petty stuff to upper management. She wrote: “I hesitate to bring up some of the more “human” aspects of the relationship that are troubling me, because I also don’t expect my boss to be a buddy.” It sounds like the OP has been bringing up communication issues, lack of professional development, and maybe the eye-rolling. But I actually agree with you that even those issues would be white noise to upper management. The C- or even D-suite would only care about communication issues and bad attitude if it negatively affected the business product/service externally or created legal jeopardy — which it doesn’t sound like it rises to that level.

      “…they acknowledge them and say that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing.” This reads to me as a condescending pet on the head…”yes, yes, we know you feel sad. Please go back to work now.”

      Reply
  34. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    “a promotion that I received (at the behest of someone else at the organization) wasn’t acknowledged by my supervisor.”

    That one is odd. What sort of promotion was it and in what way was it “not acknowledged”? If OP went from junior teapot inspector to senior teapot inspector but there really wasn’t any change in job duties and she didn’t really change positions on the organizational chart, I guess I wouldn’t expect much of an acknowledgement; was OP expecting a cake? Because cake is nice but unnecessary, and in some offices it might even be odd to make a big deal about this type of promotion. But if OP went from teapot inspector to teapot manager and she took on different tasks, but her supervisor is still assigning inspector level projects and referring to her as an inspector, that would be something the OP can take action on. Part of developing professionally is being able to assert yourself politely but effectively, so OP should practice responding to these slights in meetings, “Bob, I’m no longer involved in Inspection projects. You’ll need to contact Wakeen for that.”…”Bob, I’m now in charge of Teapot Management so I am working on that project you asked Fegus about. Please direct those questions/instructions to me from now on so that the project doesn’t get delayed by communication gaps.” If Bob makes noises or rolls his eyes, try calling him out, “Bob, did you have a question? You seem like you have something you want to add.”

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      Cake is nice.

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned at AAM, it is never to underestimate the intoxicating power of simple carbohydrates.

      Reply
  35. Prudencep

    As I was reading I was thinking about my letter about Benedict earlier this week and thinking how this could almost be written by someone on his team (except I know he does try to be better at communicating at least). Thinking about that, is there any chance that there are discussions happening about him at a higher level that you’re just not privy to?

    I’ve been in a role that was really hard on me emotionally although I liked the work itself. The people and my manager were the problem. I was lucky enough that I knew my former workplace was desperate for someone with my skills to finish off a project and I swallowed my pride and called and asked if I could do that for them. It was embarrassing at the time but leaving was the best thing I ever did. I hadn’t realised just how much it had worn me down until I left. Without knowing your financial situation I think you need to go sooner rather than later, but if you can hang in there and job search at the same time it might help with some motivation. Good luck OP.

    Reply
  36. Been there

    I’m going to offer a different perspective about the promotion that someone else in the org got for the OP. I personally don’t take that as the smoking gun that the boss is wrong or is a bad manager.

    I had an employee that was OK, she had some personal quirks that drove me up the wall, was your classic “LOOK AT ME AND HOW GREAT I AM AND I SHOULD BE CEO BY NOW… WHY AREN’T I CEO YET”. She was the type that if she spent 1/2 the energy on her job that she was spending trying to convince everyone how great she was, she would be a great employee.

    Anyway, she managed to catch the eye of a VP and our CEO, who pushed for the organization to promote her. I knew she wasn’t ready, my boss knew she wasn’t ready, but what are you going to do?

    She embarks on her fancy new job/promotion in a different group and proceeds to crash and burn spectacularly including the following; having to be literally carried out of a client dinner because she was drunk. accusing her new boss of sexual harassment (which did not hold up to an investigation and the manager was cleared with apologies by HR), a cover up of lying about the alleged harassment with the help of an IT manager deleting emails off of the email server which destroyed his career. Not so shockingly she was fired.

    So yeah, after watching that particular sh*t show, I tend to give managers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to not promoting employees. Of course this doesn’t mean that there aren’t bad managers out there who would not promote an employee for selfish reasons.

    Reply
    1. Phoenix Programmer

      We are asked to take the letter writer at their word and your anecdote doesn’t offer any advice for the op.

      Reply
      1. Been there

        It does offer a different perspective that may ring true to the OP or it may not only they can really answer that question. We don’t have any indication from the original letter what the promotion was or if/how it was earned. While I did offer a different view, I also conceded the point that the OP’s manager could be a jerk.

        Reply
  37. Phoenix Programmer

    OP I feel like a lot of comments on this one are dismissing your POV. I want you to know you are not alone.

    Sometimes when your boss is a bullying jerk it’s easy for the little things to grate more than they should. There is a reason the phrase is “added salt to the wound”. Salt alone is not hurtful but in a cut becomes hugely irritating.

    Your boss is clearly a bully – refusing to acknowledge a promotion and rolling their eyes on client meetings is not ok.

    I agree with Allison’s advice job search while you keep your head down. Know that your feelings are normal and understandable.

    Reply
  38. Susana

    Actually, I read “perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing” not as confirmation they think he’s terrible, but that they don’t want to take supervisor out of his/her job, but want to appease OP and make her feel like she’s being heard. We don’t know the whole story, really. OP says her hard work is not being recognized, but it sounds like supervisor doesn;t think she’s working hard – complains about her not taking on more work, and says she takes too much vacation. And maybe supervisor is right. Maybe not, but the fact that OP is very upset her supervisor doesn’t inquire about her personal life, and doesn’t think it’s OK to skip a meeting because of a shooting of people she didn’t know – honestly, that makes me wonder if OP expects praise for just doing his/her job. And maybe supervisor can’t separate what I think are unreasonable personal needs OP has from OP’s overall performance. At any rate – not a good fit. New job time.

    Reply
  39. Ames

    Unpopular opinion: An employee who thinks it’s a big deal that her boss doesn’t ask her how her vacation was, and who regularly takes personal “issues” to upper management seems like the type any frustrated manager would roll his eyes at. Not saying that he should have been so obvious about his contempt, but I’ve had many coworkers who feel like everything is centered around them, and as a result aren’t as productive or efficient as they could be if they came to work and… I don’t know… worked? Instead of focusing on why her boss didn’t ask her about a shooting in her hometown, she could just accept that it’s not the end of the world. Honestly, if there was a shooting in my hometown, and someone I knew was affected, I would take the day off or not even mention it if I chose to come into work for whatever reason. But sitting around and wanting people to feel sorry for her points to other personality “quirks” I’m sure he finds grating, which could lead him to the conclusion that she’s not mature enough to be promoted.

    Reply
  40. Oak

    As an unemployed person, I am telling you, do NOT leave this job without another one lined up. Trust me, please, the way people will treat you when you are unemployed is way worse than how this guy is treating you. And it won’t just be one person, it will be the world at large. And instead of it just being about that other person (your boss), it will be about you. You could end up in a much worse situation. Keep your job while searching for other jobs, so that you can actually use your current situation to get you to a much better situation, as opposed to placing yourself in a situation that could become desperate and force you to accept a worse situation. In the meantime, if it is affecting your mental health, maybe you could see a counselor or therapist? But the take-home message would be that you cannot control your boss, you can only control yourself, and you are a worthy human being, so just let go of the fact that he is the way he is and accept it and move on and don’t let it get to you. It doesn’t mean the way he acts is right, it just means that it doesn’t have to derail your life.

    Reply
  41. alana

    Two things seem indubitably true here:
    1) This relationship has become toxic and is likely not going to be salvaged.
    2) You need a feeling of personal investment in your job, or a sense that other people around you are invested in *you* to perform at your best.

    In the short term, you should do everything you can to find sources of validation, praise, and opportunity who are not your manager. Is your promotion something you can leverage to get involved in a new project? Interact with other people in a way that’s meaningful, like helping onboard new hires? Can you get involved with work outside your department so you’re interacting with other managers? Are there people you like and trust in the office who you can occasionally gut-check stuff with?

    A personality mismatch between you and your manager can be rough even if no one’s at fault, and your best bet is to find other people who support you while you continue to job search.

    That said, I’m going to try to offer a little perspective on a few things you said. A lot of this is garden-variety bad boss stuff. Some of it isn’t even bad boss stuff! It’s hard to screen for bosses who motivate through praise and personal investment. (Particularly because everyone is effusive at the interview stage — they want to persuade you to come work there!) Even if you have one of those bosses (I did, and I would walk through fire for her) there will be days when they are rude and uncaring and unfair, because they are human beings (she also made me cry on multiple occasions).

    >On the personal end, it ranges from not asking how my vacation was to not acknowledging that there was a shooting in my hometown (so I may not be as productive that specific day or interested in attending a last-minute, non-essential external meeting).

    This isn’t great. But in a workplace relationship, unless it’s something truly horrific (“I told him my mother was shot and he said I had to get back to work”) you should likely let it slide and not dwell on it. It’s almost certainly not intentional (hell, sometimes I forget to ask my friends about their vacations). And while you have one boss, he likely has many direct reports — maybe he thought he asked you about your vacation, but he actually asked John; maybe he just forgot you were out; maybe he has something going on in his life that doesn’t make him productive that day either. Bosses are human, and humans are sometimes rude, and they sometimes also just screw up.

    >He’ll make side remarks about me taking too much vacation, or roll his eyes when I make suggestions in meetings.

    Even if his concerns are founded, this is the wrong way to approach them. Rolling his eyes at you in front of peers, colleagues, clients, etc. is disrespectful and hurtful. If he has an issue with your contributions in meetings or the amount of vacation you’ve taken, it’s up to him to address that clearly and directly with you. It’s also just kinda garden-variety unpleasantness, though, and the best way to deal with it is to detach a little bit.

    >Professionally, he will avoid questions about my professional development (i.e., telling me during a performance review that my professional growth is a different topic entirely)

    That’s not great management. It does depend a little bit on context — if I’m telling someone they need to improve at X and Y ASAP and they want to talk about their long-term goals, I’m not going to switch topics until I’m certain my message has been delivered about what they need to work on right now — but if he says it belongs in a different conversation, a great manager would follow up and have that conversation.

    >and has told me that I have a “bad attitude” when I express that I can’t do something because of all the other work I’m doing.

    It’s possible you’re dramatically overworked! But a lot of bosses do not want to hear “no, I can’t.” The right way to phrase this is, in the least accusatory voice you can muster, is “How should I prioritize this vis-a-vis the spout report and the teapot analysis I’m also working on?”

    >I receive no acknowledgement for a job well done

    This isn’t GREAT either. Great bosses make their employees feel appreciated and valued. But in a lot of offices, if you are doing the job well — well, you are doing your job.

    >and recently, a promotion that I received (at the behest of someone else at the organization) wasn’t acknowledged by my supervisor.

    This is not good — on your manager’s part or the company’s. I’m sure you deserved the promotion, but they set you up for some unpleasant fallout. To your manager, they went over his head to promote someone who, according to him, has a bad attitude and is taking too much time off. That basically threw gasoline on the fire. That worsened the situation through no fault of your own.

    >He and I have had ongoing communication issues for almost two years of us working together, to the point where people have been brought in to mediate the issues at hand. Every time I bring up the types of issues I’m having to upper management, trying to keep them as professional as possible, they acknowledge them and say that perhaps my supervisor just isn’t good at managing. I’ve responded by asking for a new manager, a request which was declined.

    That is a lot of times to complain in less than two years, particularly about the type of issue you’re describing — which are essentially interpersonal differences. A good rule of thumb is to be very careful going above your boss’s head about something that is never going to affect anyone other than the two of you (with a giant exception for situations like sexual harassment). Typically, when you go to management with a complaint, you want them to think you’re doing them a favor: you’re letting them know about a big problem they hadn’t heard about yet, but it was only a matter of time.

    You might have been doing that! But you still have to be prepared for the consequences — like your manager not really wanting a close, caring, personal relationship with you. To him, you’re someone who has a bad attitude, takes too much vacation, says no to assignments, got promoted behind his back, and routinely elevates issues to his supervisors. It’s his job as a supervisor to be professional and treat you with respect anyway, and it sounds like he’s failing in some ways. But it’s not surprising that the two of you aren’t particularly close. Given the circumstances, it’d be unusual if you were.

    Your boss sounds like a bad boss! But in the long run, if you can learn to detach emotionally from some of this, you’ll be better off. Think of that as the only real help he can give you in your career, if that makes it any better.

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  42. nacho

    I’d love a boss like OP’s. Mine’s started a new policy where we have to spend 60% of our one on ones asking questions and working on professional development. Or she keeps giving us busywork telling us it will allow us to take control of our development. I just want her to tell me what I’m doing wrong and give me a chance to fix it, and otherwise let me do the job she hired me for. Is that too much to ask?

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  43. Not So NewReader

    OP, I have seen it many times where Person A decides that Person B does not like them. It may or may not be true. Usually at the same time I see that Person A does not know how they feel about Person B. It’s almost like A’s indecision leads A to decide that B does not like them.

    In your case here, OP, what I am picking up on is that neither of you likes the other one. You can’t find anything likable about this guy and he feels the same way. You do have a choice here, you can let your sense of self-worth backslide or you can just decide that BOTH of you don’t like each other. It happens, not everyone is for everyone. That is okay and totally understandable. Do not force yourself to continue on in these situations. Build a plan to get out and use that plan. Set a rule for yourself that you will keep yourself in positions where you have a chance of success.

    People can fail us in big ways, OP, and they let us down. It’s my belief that the biggest let down there is, is when we fail our very own selves. Going forward, extract yourself from places that cut you off from being successful. I think after this you will catch the early warning signs much quicker.

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  44. DJ

    Yes the snide remarks and eye rolls aren’t acceptable. It constantly amazes me why workplaces won’t do simple things like separate workers who don’t get on or swap managers!!!

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  45. DrAtos

    I agree. In the last year I have had several co-workers that became hostile towards me, and it hurt. I realized that our relationship became too personal, and I took a step back from them, and stopped talking to them unless it was work related. That is how are relationship is like now, and I really could not be happier. I do not bother them and they have gotten the message not to bother me either. Luckily, these are not people I have to do team work with, and my bosses are pretty hands off and easygoing if I need to go to them with a question. If anything, it might be best not to socialize with certain people at work beyond basic work-related issues, requests, and questions. That being said, it is annoying that people are contemptuous and hostile. Regardless of how I feel about a colleague, I keep a straight face and act professionally. I am never rude or unkind to anyone in the office even if I dislike them personally. OP should continue looking for a new job, and in the meantime not expect any changes from her boss. Some people are jerks, and part of the working world is having to deal with those type of people in a professional way that does not force you to lower yourself to their level. Once you stop having expectations that not so nice people are the way that they are, and that is no fault of your own, you can focus on your work and doing other things that can help build your career, whether that be building a positive work relationship with someone in the organization that will get you that next promotion or reference for a better job.

    Reply

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