How to Know When Someone Doesn’t like You at Work

Office politics are tricky to navigate.

Amidst conflict, people try to keep attention away from themselves, and act only in a defensive manner. It may be relatively easy to know when someone doesn’t like you if they don’t mind making that fact known. In a professional environment however, people are more subdued in their expression of negative opinions about others. The danger in that fact for you is that you may not know who exactly does not like you at work. These people can cause damage to your reputation behind your back and stain any good work that you do for your employer.

It is critical to know when people don’t like you early on in the development of negative feelings towards you. Apart from them telling other people and the word traveling to you, you can use the following methods to diagnose just how much someone likes you – on a personal level – at work.

Both of these theories depend on what happens in response to a trigger you are responsible in providing. An example of such a trigger, is making an innocent mistake at work and seeing the way different people around you react to that mistake. When everything is going well, the people who don’t like you do not have an excuse to express their disdain towards you.

It is only once you give them a reason to express their feelings toward you, that you will begin to understand who is on your side and who isn’t.


Small Mistakes, Big Reactions


People who don’t like you are more likely to overreact to the mistakes that you make.

An easy way to test whether someone personally likes you is to make an innocent and easily fixable mistake in something that your subject cares about. If the mistake does not warrant the reaction that you receive from them, then you should be careful making other mistakes around them. Overreactions can stem into premature escalations of issues to your direct managers and a lack of forgiveness in the communications going back and forth between the two of you.

If you apologize for your mistakes and fix them quickly, people will recognize your effort and remorse. Should they be kind, they may even allow you to save face. If your effort in fixing your mistakes goes unrecognized and significant effort is made to get you in trouble, then you should be wary of the people who are attempting to maximize the importance of the mistakes you make.


Not Letting You Save Face


If you make a mistake at work which is only known to you and the person of interest, gauge whether they’re willing to let you save face.

If they are understanding and hold you in high regard upon discovery of issues, they will let you know of that mistake prior to spreading the word to anyone else. People who communicate your mistakes to others quicker than needed, aren’t willing to let you safe face, and may be acting with malice propelling their quick escalations.

People who like you at work will provide you with every opportunity to avoid getting in trouble. The people who strive to do the opposite do not care for the upkeep of your reputation, and communication with them should be handled with care. By analyzing who is motivated to get you in trouble, you’ll know which issues you should prioritize should they arise. You’ll know that should an issue affect those who have a tendency to exaggerate and escalate, it should be quickly mitigated. Take note of people who aim to ruin your reputation by not letting you save face and render them powerless before they use their power to get you in trouble.

These methods are not fool-proof, and sometimes your mistakes will warrant big reactions which need quick action to mitigate. However, if only specific people are reacting in big ways to your mistakes, then you have enough information to point your analysis of hidden motives in a specific direction.


They Limit One on One Conversations; Always Seeking Witnesses to Your Interactions With Them


One on one interactions are often casual in the workplace. A quick meeting at a desk can be difficult to keep tabs on. Someone may promise to do something for you while they’re at your desk and then go on to innocently forget about it.

Such instances are trivial when they involve colleagues we’ve developed warm relationships with. We’ll go on to remind them of something they forgot, or to get an update on the deliverable they promised to have ready by last week.

People who don’t hold you in high regard will try to limit any unprofessional communication with you in an effort to keep you on your toes. They’ll try to set formal meetings to discuss trivial subjects. They’ll ensure that any promises you make and expectations you set are documented and witnessed not only by them alone.

In doing so, they’ll be able to pressure you in delivering on what you say, and will limit the development of any casual working relationship. If you should go on to forget about the things you say or the expectations you make, they’ll have the necessary evidence to get you in trouble.


Read our analyses of current events by becoming a Patron.

Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.