You’ve heard the phrase “I’m a people person”. Maybe you’ve even heard your boss use the phrase to describe his own ways, in contrast to how he describes yours. You’ve also probably heard it enough in a series of new hire interviews to want to hurt the next person who says it…or almost. Who are these “people people” anyway? They’re the ones who could engage paint off a wall, sell ice to Eskimos and are seemingly loved by all, except you. Just the same, they’re that boss at the top who rose up because of great sales and now finds little value in your skills. But let’s talk about why…
A sales trainer colleague of mine used to say “opposites attract and then they attack”. Boy, do they and unless you’re married to your boss, the two of you may skip attract and go straight to attack. The most glaring opposite trait that demonstrates this case is this: A “people person” is not usually gifted with numbers, yet they know they need a numbers person on the team. That doesn’t mean they’ll value your skills or on your wisdom they’ll lean. It may simply seem they come across as always mean because you don’t give them what they need. If you focus on the numbers, you deal with facts. Even the way you act is based on order and logic and getting them right. What that boss wants is praise for having fought the good fight, having your back, or doing everything they’ve done so you’ll notice and tell them they have a special knack. They want the praise and recognition piece and if that doesn’t even occur to you, they’ll dismiss what you say and look for the person who shares the enthusiasm they seek. Make a note. What you see as a boss who doesn’t like you is really a boss who thinks you don’t like them or the way they lead.
That same “People person” boss may have a flair for the dramatic or a touch of narcissistic tendencies. Their directions are often vague and include things that place them at the forefront of any plans laid. This is not true for all people oriented leaders, but where true, does leave those without such tendencies wondering how to follow them. In the face of nebulous guidance, your boss may also expect your immediate acceptance of said unclear directions and then be dumb founded when you don’t get it. The tighter the deadline or greater the stress the more “my way or the highway” behavior and statements will exist. How do you do as they ask when you can’t understand, much less, see the “highway” they’ve not so clearly described last? More simply said there’s a personality difference here. Yet, have no fear and rest assured that while they seem to not like you, but love everyone else, this difference is about misunderstanding, not about you and anything you have or haven’t done.
But, we all tend to take the behavior of our boss personally. While it’s easy for me, or anyone else to say, their behavior has nothing to do with you and why you’re “that way”, it’s much more difficult to truly believe. We see things through the lens of our self-esteem. “People people” tend to base their worth and value on the perceptions of the people around them. Those more analytically inclined, introverted, and numbers focused, tend to base their value on only what they see and how they perceive. Be cautious about making an assessment of your bosses behavior based on what you’d do if you were in their role because expecting your opposite to behave as you would, is a recipe for absolutely nothing good. Einstein once said “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life thinking it’s stupid”. Are you the fish out of water being judged for your tree climbing capabilities or is your boss the one you’re judging inappropriately?
Working in an office in which you think you’re boss doesn’t like you is no fun for the boss or for you. But so much of our beliefs need to be challenged before we assume they are our reality. Yes, your boss may be different than you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have value, too. Attempt to talk through these differences and build a rapport. Assuming and stewing and instead, keeping score, will at some point quite likely get you shown the door. That’s pretty extreme for something as simple as a mere misunderstanding.