One of the more concerning realizations you could make at work is that your boss ignores you. They don’t respond to your emails or DMs or have time to talk to you in person. So, why is your boss ignoring you all of a sudden? Could it be that they are angry at you for some reason? Do they no longer value you as a professional and an employee? Or are they simply too busy to respond to you?
But one crucial thing to remember is that every situation is unique, so the resolution to your situation might come from one or several of the steps outlined below. Whatever the reason for their lack of attentiveness, we have twelve tips to help you determine the best course of action to restore the lines of communication.
1. Start With Self-Reflection and Self-Assessment
Before jumping to conclusions about why your boss might ignore you, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- Have you argued with your boss?
- Have you disappointed them in any way?
- Have you embarrassed them in any way?
- Have you had a conflict with anybody else?
- Have you done anything that your boss might see as highly negative?
- How long has it been since your last correspondence?
Reflecting on your recent performance, behaviors, and attitudes is best. Could there be any reason, performance-related or interpersonal, that might lead your boss to distance themselves?
2. Document Specific Instances of Being Ignored
It would be wise to jot down specific instances when you felt ignored or overlooked. This will provide a clear record if you decide to escalate the issue later. Or a basis of average response time to compare with other team members. For example, you can save specific emails that your boss didn’t reply to or instances of being ghosted when you try to DM your boss. This will help you establish a pattern of repeated behavior, an isolated incident, or a broader lack of communication between your boss and team.
3. Seek Feedback From Trusted Coworkers
You can approach a trusted colleague and ask for their perspective. They might have experienced the same behavior or offer perspective on why your boss is ignoring you. They may also provide reassurance if they haven’t observed such conduct. You will find yourself one step closer to a resolution in either case.
4. Ask for an Alternative Contact
Part of being a responsible professional is to take adequate action when your direct manager isn’t there to provide guidance. Before seeking assistance elsewhere within your team or department, ask your manager to recommend someone else for additional guidance on a specific project. It is best to send this kind of request in writing. That way, if it goes unanswered and you take it upon yourself to seek guidance, you can show you tried to follow the proper channels first.
5. Be Prompt to Reply
It can be tempting, but no matter why your boss ignores you, you shouldn’t ignore them back. This would be highly immature and unprofessional of you. After all, part of being a reliable and dedicated professional is to put personal feuds and feelings aside in the name of collaboration and productivity.
6. Open a Dialogue With Your Boss
Try to schedule a private meeting with your boss to confront them personally. However, it’s essential to approach this conversation with a non-confrontational and open-minded attitude.
Remember to use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns. For instance, you might say, “I’ve noticed that there have been several times when I didn’t receive feedback on my projects,” rather than “You’ve been ignoring me.”
After this, give your boss the chance to explain their behavior. Don’t interrupt them. Listen patiently to what they have to say. Let’s hope that the whole thing was a colossal misunderstanding.
7. Don’t Get Defensive
If your boss points out that you are at fault for something, do your best to stay calm and collected. Certainly, don’t get on the defense. Listen to your boss’s grievances and say something like, “I understand where you are coming from. Do you have any recommendations on how I can improve?”
8. Ask Your Boss for Feedback
During your meeting, seek feedback on your work performance as well. If there is an issue, it’s better to be aware and address it directly. Asking for feedback also demonstrates your commitment to professional growth and improvement.
9. Ask Your Boss About Their Communication Preferences
Everyone has their own communication style. And perhaps your boss prefers a particular method or frequency of communication. Clarify what works best for both of you to avoid future instances of feeling ignored by your boss.
10. Escalate the Issue Through Proper Company Channels
If direct communication doesn’t resolve the issue or worsens the situation, consider seeking mediation through HR or another neutral third party, such as another high-ranking executive at the company. And don’t feel embarrassed about this. After all, Human Resources’s job is to ensure that all company employees are treated fairly and that conflict resolution is handled most civilly and professionally.
11. Remain Professional and Respectful at All Times
No matter the outcome, maintain your professionalism and productive workflow. You should continue to deliver quality work, communicate effectively, and avoid unnecessarily gossiping or discussing the situation with colleagues.
12. Consider Leaving This Toxic Work Environment
If all efforts fail and you continue to feel marginalized and ignored by your boss, it may be worth considering if this job or company fits you. After all, what kind of boss goes through such efforts to ignore one of their subordinates? Especially if this is some grudge or a personal vendetta against you. A lousy or vindictive boss is a sign of a toxic work environment.