“Hi Fiona, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I’m hoping that you can help me with something. It may sound a bit ridiculous, but I’ve been beginning to question “does my boss like me?”. I do everything she asks of me, but I feel like she’s never that pleased with what I do. Sometimes when I go over to speak to her, I feel like she’s a bit dismissive of me. I don’t know, maybe I’m overthinking it, but I love every other aspect of my internship so I don’t know what to do. Do you have any advice for when your boss doesn’t like you?” – Rhiannon
Hi Rhiannon, thanks for reaching out to me. Having a good relationship with your boss is, of course, very important, but I will start out by saying do not worry. Every office works in a different way, some are very friendly and chatty and others are more formal. Depending on the environments they have worked in, your colleagues (and your boss) will follow this same pattern. Saying that, there are a few things that you can do to try and put yourself in a good light.
1. Do exceptional work
This is, by far, the most important piece of advice I can give you. Going above and beyond with your tasks and assignments is the best way for your boss to notice you for all the right reasons. You want to make their life a little bit easier, and going above and beyond will allow them to trust you enough to lean on you a bit. I mean this in the metaphorical sense of course. They will see you as a capable member of the team and therefore shift some of their workload onto you. This will allow them some breathing room and they will look favorably upon you.
With every task that you complete, think to yourself “what could I do to make this a better piece of work?”. Or even possibly “how could I take this to the next level?”. This could be presenting some data in an innovative way, coming up with ideas and suggestions, turning an average document into a fantastic resource, anything that shows you are truly putting in the effort.
2. Have a conversation
Have a face to face conversation. Sometimes when you spend most of your day communicating with your boss over email or instant messenger, it can be hard to judge the tone of a message. Written communication can sometimes feel overly stern, or unfriendly. Unless you put a load of smiley faces and a hedgehog emoji on the end (which I don’t recommend), it probably won’t seem that chatty or nice.
The best thing to do is to ask your boss if they would be around to have a conversation with you. Organise a time with them so you know you won’t be interrupting anything. You can then speak to them about how they feel you are doing in the internship. You can ask them if there is anything that you can do that would improve your work, or make their life a bit easier. This will make your boss again look on you in a positive light, as you will look motivated, keen and eager to improve. You may also find out there’s something you’ve been forgetting to do, or a task that you haven’t quite grasped. That’s always good to know so that you can continue to learn and grow.
3. Do something nice
At the most basic level, the best way to make someone like you more, is to be nice to them. Of course I’m sure you are already nice and friendly at your office, but there are ways to go above and beyond. Make sure that you ask your boss how they are, how their weekend was, take an interest in their life. They will appreciate this. If you’re heading down to the shop, you could ask them if they want anything. Same goes with if you run to grab a coffee. Don’t do this constantly, but the occasional nice gesture can go a long way.
4. Be careful with questions
As I said in my blog last week, it is said that there are no stupid questions, there are unfortunately annoying ones. Be careful with the quality and quantity of the questions you are asking. Make sure that the only questions you are asking are ones that you cannot answer yourself. Asking constant unnecessary questions is the easiest way to irritate your boss. Saying that, a well-thought out, insightful question can make you seem inquisitive, interested and can sometimes give your boss a helping hand.
5. Build a network of other people at work
One of the most important parts of doing an international internship is the networking opportunities. Although you may not feel that you have a strong connection with your boss, there are loads of other great people at the office that you can befriend. These people will be amazing contacts for you in the future. Why not ask someone if they want to grab lunch? Or a coffee after work? Chances are they will be really pleased that you’ve asked. They will be happy to be able to get to know you.
6. Maybe they do?
The last thing that I will say, is maybe your boss does like you. A lot of the time when people are stressed or have something going on in their personal life they won’t let you know, but their behavour at work may be quite stand-offish. It is very possible that your boss is snowed under with work and therefore seems dismisssive or distant. They may even have something upsetting going on in their personal life and are keeping themselves to themselves to deal with it. If you do all of the above tips, and feel you are truly doing the best you can, I would say that this is probably the case. Don’t worry yourself too much about it, I’m sure you are doing just fine.
I love hearing from you! Send me any questions, queries or stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that you know what to do if you think “does my boss like me?”, apply for an international internship today.
Drinks, by Joseph Morris, CC BY -ND 2.0