Career Advice

My Boss Treats Me Differently Than Others – Is It Just Me?

Are you feeling like “my boss treats me differently than others at work”? If so, you’re not alone. This issue is common among employees feeling left out or overlooked by their manager.

Research shows that unfair treatment from our managers can significantly reduce our work performance, lower job satisfaction, and consequently lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

In this blog post, we will discuss what it means when a boss treats someone differently than others, why it happens in some cases, steps to take if that’s happening to you, and ways on how to improve relationships with your superior.

We’ll also provide essential tips for navigating any situation between yourself and your manager so that you can get back on track professionally. So read on to find out more!

Key Takeaways

  • It is common for employees to feel left out or overlooked by their boss.
  • Signs of differential treatment includes forgetting your name, avoiding eye contact, excluding you socially, personal criticism and withholding resources or promotion opportunities.
  • To address these issues one should talk openly with their boss or reach out to HR. Additionally proactive involvement in company activities can help foster better relationships with superiors.

What Is It Called When Your Boss Treats You Differently Than Others?

When a boss treats one employee unfairly or differently from other employees, this is known as differential treatment. This can manifest in ways such as giving more work assignments to some and fewer to others, excluding someone socially from team activities, unfairly withholding resources or promotion opportunities, publicly criticizing an individual without cause or giving preferential treatment based on personal relationships (known as nepotism).

Differential treatment is particularly noticeable when it involves two people with similar qualifications but who are treated very differently by their boss. In extreme cases, differential treatment may even be unlawful discrimination if it involves prejudice towards protected characteristics such as race, gender or disability.

It’s important that employees get help when they suspect discrimination in the workplace so they can better understand whether something wrong has happened and seek solutions for rectifying unfair practices.

Read More: My Boss Seems Uncomfortable Around Me: 7 Possible Reasons

Signs Of Your Boss Treating You Differently Than Others

Here are common signs when your boss is treating you differently:

Forgetting Your Name

When our names are spoken in conversation it elevates feelings of importance and fosters more positive relationships with others. One way your boss could signal disinterest or lack of respect might involve regularly forgetting your name – for example calling other employees by their first names while using titles or surnames for yours.

This behavior conveys a message that there is an unequal power balance where coworkers hold more favor—or at least recognition—in comparison to yourself within their view.

Watch for this subtle differential treatment as an indicator to understand why it occurs. Addressing it head-on rather than accepting it preserves self-worth and dignity.

Ignoring Your Questions

Ignoring your questions is one of the most tell-tale signs that your boss is treating you differently than others. It may feel disheartening, as it reinforces a feeling of not being valued or taken seriously in the workplace.

If your boss doesn’t make an effort to answer any query despite repeated attempts on your end, they could be subtly indicating lack of respect for your contributions, efforts and ideas.

Avoiding Eye Contact

When your boss is avoiding eye contact, it can be a sign of not feeling comfortable around you and being uncomfortable in your presence.

Whatever the reason for such behavior might be, if you are repetitively receiving cold shoulder from someone in charge – it’s important to act upon it rather than ignore the situation by trying to seek an explanation or clear something up with them before things become worse.

Excluding You Socially

One sign of your boss treating you differently than others is the exclusion from social activities or opportunities. If you’re not invited to meetings, get left out of the conversation in group chats or meetings, don’t join lunch with coworkers, and are excluded from company events then it could be a sign that your boss doesn’t view you equally as other employees.

Being ignored or excluded socially by your boss can have a negative impact on how much sense of belonging you experience in the workplace which in turn can affect your self-esteem and well-being over time.

Personal Criticism

Being on the receiving end of personal criticism from your boss can be a demoralizing and disheartening experience. In fact, it can have serious repercussions on an individual’s self-esteem, confidence, and morale at work.

It is important to understand that few bosses single someone out for negative attention – instead this may stem from how they manage all employees or are just indicative of their personality traits.

Keeping You Uninformed

Being kept in the dark or excluded from important information can be a subtle sign of your boss treating you differently than others. Keeping you uninformed means that your boss is not giving you respectful treatment and may even signal lack of trust.

If your manager doesn’t update you on relevant matters, withholds team emails or invites for group projects or meetings, chances are they aren’t prioritizing including you in key decisions and conversations.

Disrespectful Treatment

Your boss should show respect and professionalism towards all employees. If you’re being treated disrespectfully or unprofessionally, you may need to take action. Also, take note if you are being given tasks to do that are below your level.

Passed Over for Promotion

Being passed over for promotion when you are qualified can be a clear sign of differential treatment from a boss. It may indicate they have unfair biases or favoritism towards others.

Promotions are opportunities to advance, gain recognition, and increase compensation. Being denied these chances despite deserving them reflects poorly on a boss who overlooks you. It warrants a direct but professional conversation to understand their reasoning and decide if the situation can be remedied or if other options should be explored.

Withholding Resources

When your boss withholds resources from you, it usually means that they are depriving or denying you of necessary tools and materials like equipment, supplies, money or staff required to do your job efficiently.

For instance if your employers deny providing you with the latest software version for an important task even when it is in the budget and available to other employees then it can be considered as withholding of resources.

Dismissing Your Input

One of the most troubling signs that your boss is treating you differently than others is if they are dismissing your input. This can mean anything from not listening to what you’re offering in meetings, simply disregarding it without responding, or actively cutting you off while speaking up.

It could also be subtle behaviors like rolling their eyes when you offer ideas, talking over you frequently during discussions or supplier presentations, and giving cold responses even to valid suggestions.

Not only will this lead to loss of confidence and motivation among employees but it may also negate one’s chances for improvement at the workplace due to lack of recognition or opportunity despite effort.

Double Standards

Double standards occur when a boss applies different rules or expectations to different employees. This type of behaviour can be extremely damaging to morale and employee confidence, especially when an employee feels they are being treated unfairly in comparison to their peers.

Double standards can involve punishing one employee for a certain behavior while rewarding another employee for the same behavior – this could be anything from giving undesired tasks to only specific people within a team, or withholding resources from some members more than others.

It is also important to note that double standards often have underlying biases such as gender or race that may lead managers into treating employees differently based on impressions rather than reality.

Limiting Praise

When it comes to employee recognition and acknowledgement, praise from your boss can be a powerful motivator for most people. As such, being continually overlooked or excluded out of instances of praise can leave employees feeling dejected, demotivated and particularly left out.

Less Work Assignments

If your colleagues are being assigned work on a more regular basis than you, it could be an indication that your boss dislikes or distrusts you, and therefore is purposely limiting the amount of responsibilities they give to you.

This disparity in workload can have serious consequences, as it can limit or prevent any chances at promotion and professional growth within the company. It may also make approaching higher-ups for projects altogether out of reach.

Public Criticism

Public criticism from a boss can be extremely damaging, both to an employee’s self-esteem and for their overall well-being.

Being publicly berated or criticized by a superior can not only make an employee feel incompetent, embarrassed, and humiliated in the moment but can also have long lasting consequences on their feeling of work satisfaction and performance.

Undesirable Assignments

Another sign to look for is being given jobs that no one else wants. Bosses often assign the less desirable tasks to the workers they aren’t very fond of. This treatment is unfair and unprofessional.

Possible Reasons Why Your Boss Treats You Differently

You may be scratching your head right now and wondering “why my manager treats me unfairly”, here are some possible reasons for such unfair treatments:

Personal differences

Not everyone gets along well. Your boss could have a personality that’s different from yours. No one is right or wrong; you simply don’t work well together. This can be a frustrating situation, but keep in mind that it’s not personal.

Performance issues

One of the most likely reasons why a boss may be treating an employee differently than their coworkers is that they are perceiving a lack of performance from that employee.

A boss who has identified specific areas in which the employee’s performance needs improvement is more likely to provide additional guidance and scrutiny than for other employees whom they feel are meeting or exceeding expectations.

Specific issues can range from missing deadlines, low quality work, attendance problems, disruptive behavior in meetings or not following instructions correctly.

Poor communication

Poor communication between bosses and employees can lead to misunderstandings and differential treatment in the workplace. Without openly discussing expectations, roles, tasks and responsibilities, there is a need for guessing by both parties leading to further confusion.

Factors such as different levels of skill or experience in a particular area may prevent effective communication from occurring. Such cases also affect how long it takes for problems to be solved or opportunities taken advantage of.

Work Overload

The most common reason why a boss will treat employees unfairly is because they’re understaffed and overworked. It isn’t a personal attack. They just don’t have enough time to give each individual the recognition and feedback they deserve.


Different bosses may have preferences when it comes to how they like their employees to conduct themselves or handle tasks.

Understanding these individual preferences is key in order for an employee to maintain a harmonious relationship with their boss. Having different working styles or personalities could clash if the two parties do not recognize each other’s expectations.

Lack of respect on your part

The relationship between a boss and an employee is not always equal, however it should be based on mutual respect. When you don’t show the appropriate level of respect for your boss or their authority, they may respond by treating you differently than other employees.

Instances of disrespect could be talking back to them when reprimanded or taking long breaks without asking permission.

Feeling threatened

Your boss may be feeling threatened by you and is simply reacting to this. Your skills, dedication, and achievements may be intimidating in their eyes. This is especially true if they think you’re a threat to their position within the company.

What To Do When My Boss Treats Me Differently Than Others?

Document Instances

When your boss is treating you differently than other employees, it’s best practice to document the instances when possible. Documenting incidents and details provides important evidence for future reference, such as if you decide to report the behavior more formally or involve Human Resources (HR).

Make sure to record dates, circumstances surrounding the incident and any reactions witnessed from other employees. Examples of relevant information can include verbal or written statements made by your boss that differentially impacted you in comparison with a peer employee who was treated better.

Talk to your coworkers

Asking your coworkers whether they have the same experiences can be helpful when dealing with the issue of being treated differently by your boss. Not only will it validate your own experience, but it may provide valuable insight into how to best face the situation.

In most cases, coworkers are likely to open up and share similar experiences that they’ve encountered as well, helping you gain a better understanding overall. Ask them questions about their own stories in order to pick their brains—what were they thinking at the time? How did they actually approach or handle the situation?

Solidarity is key here: hearing other people’s experiences can remind you that you are not alone in this struggle, and encourage greater dialogue between co-workers that could potentially create an atmosphere of support within the workplace.

Speak Up

It’s natural to feel resentful and hurt when your boss treats you differently than your colleagues. It can be difficult, but it’s important to build up the courage to express how their conduct has been making you feel.

This doesn’t mean yelling at or insulting them; it simply means explaining in a reasonable manner why something they did or said was upsetting for you, and letting them know discussing issues is key for establishing healthy working relationships.

Not-speaking up can leave these issues unresolved, therefore leading a lack of trust between employees and employers which will have an overall negative impact on team morale as well as productivity levels.

Involve HR

If your boss is treating you differently and unfairly, it is important to involve Human Resources (HR) as soon as possible. This can help ensure that the problem does not continue or escalate.

Verbal complaints can be lodged with HR regarding any unfair or inappropriate treatment by a boss, which could include anything from exclusion and disrespect through to public criticism and being passed over for promotion.

HR can provide advice on how to resolve the issue in a fair way, investigate any accusations, inform or remind management of their roles/responsibilities within the workplace environment and ultimately provide support throughout this process.

Improve Your Performance

One of the ways to prevent your boss from treating you differently is to make sure that you are performing your job well. Showing your capability and competence in tasks, especially those that are important for the company or team, will be a great way to earn respect and trust from colleagues and most importantly – superiors.

Additionally, maintain a good attitude at all times regardless of how much work is given to you; portray reliable performance such as always delivering projects on time or attendance by reaching office early etc.

This will not only show your commitment toward the organization but also send out a positive message regarding yourself professionally. Having an excellent track record with regards to performance can ultimately turn poor perception into more appreciation from superiors.

Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor can be an invaluable resource when you find yourself being treated differently than others by your boss. Mentors offer guidance, support and valuable insights into dealing with the issue, as they provide knowledge based on their own experiences in similar situations.

Observing how a mentor acts in a leadership position can also provide further insight for understanding how to handle different treatment if you eventually become a manager. Additionally, mentors may be able to help develop strategies for building constructive relationships with superiors whilst remaining professional, setting goals and expectations while also navigating challenging workplace environments.

Internal transfer

Internal transfer within the same company is one possible solution to dealing with a boss who treats you differently than others. It’s important to be aware of what’s called the “Set-Up-To-Fail” syndrome, which can occur when an employee is transferred to a division with a lukewarm recommendation from previous bosses or due to poor relationships between them.

Making an internal transfer may require having difficult conversations with your boss so it is beneficial for working professionals involve HR in this process as they have access to relevant resources and provide guidance on how best to navigate such challenging situations.

Update Your Resume

If, after looking for signs of differential treatment and attempting to rectify the situation, you’re still thinking to yourself, “My boss treats me differently than others”, you may want to consider looking for a position at a different company.

When the root of the problem is something out of your control, leaving might be the best way to move forward in your career and feel like a productive worker once again.

Remain Professional

Maintaining a professional demeanor in the face of adversity is one of the key components of managing working relationships. Even when your boss treats you differently than others, staying calm and collected can help mitigate tension and ensure that progression does not suffer as a result.

How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss

Before escalating the issue to HR and management, you can try to improve your relationship with your boss in the following ways:

Understand their perspective

It is important to understand your boss’ perspective if they treat you differently than other employees, as this can help improve communication, resolve conflicts, and build a stronger working relationship.

Adapt and adjust your working style

Being able to adapt and adjust your working style in any situation is an important skill for a successful professional life. When your boss treats you differently than others, it can be difficult to maintain a positive relationship with him or her.

However, by developing the right attitude and adjusting how you communicate with your boss, it’s possible to improve this challenging dynamic. By adapting to different personalities and situations, you show that you will go out of your way to keep communication lines open between yourself and colleagues or superiors.

Seek feedback and implement changes

Feedback from your boss is a valuable tool for improving your performance, learning more about workplace culture and developing as an employee.

It’s important to be receptive to verbal or written feedback from supervisors because it often reveals areas of improvement or blind spots that you may be unaware of.

When listening to their suggestions, take notes so that you have something concrete for reference later on when implementing changes suggested by them based on observed progress or outcomes.

Take initiative and demonstrate value

Showcasing initiative and demonstrating value to your boss is a great way to improve relationships at work, stay in the good grace of management, and forge a more successful career.

This means taking ownership for projects, pushing ideas forward, being reliable and resourceful when needed, displaying a positive attitude towards work tasks no matter how difficult they may be, going above and beyond what’s asked of you in order to impress superiors – especially before promotions arise – staying flexible for change along with putting forth extra effort whenever making decisions or resolving an issue.


It is understandable and common to feel disheartened or isolated when your boss treats you different than other employees. However, it is important to recognize the signs of such treatment in order to address the issue.

While differential treatment can be perceived as unfair, there may be valid reasons behind it such as transparent communication issues, personal preferences, or job performance discrepancies.

The key point here is that rather than jumping to conclusions, individuals should take time and reflect on any specific instances in which they were treated differently by their boss and to analyze why this happened.

It’s also important for individuals to speak up either directly with their superior or alongside human resources if they feel spoken down upon – an assertive attitude along side remaining professional are surefire ways of tackling workplace discrimination and achieving success at work despite being treated unfairly by a superior.

About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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