With our work life occupying a huge chunk of our day, it makes sense to want to get along with our co-workers.
We want to know what the people around us think of us. We’d like to be in their good graces, not because we’re people-pleasers (although maybe some of us are), but more because we want our job to go smoothly.
If you’re in an office with people you truly enjoy being with, consider yourself blessed. Not everyone gets that happy happenstance!
Some of us have workplaces that feel like a minefield, or at best, awkward. Because among our colleagues, there are one or two that might be a little tough to crack.
Do you have a co-worker like that? The one who makes you wonder if they dislike you?
Here are ten signs they just might be. Hopefully, this list can help you decode their behavior and figure out ways to bridge the gap.
Let’s dive in!
1) They frequently interrupt you
I’m pretty sure this has happened to every one of us at work. You’re in a meeting and you’re all systems go, only to be interrupted by a co-worker.
Now, be careful not to interpret this as dislike right off the bat. It could be that your co-worker is simply a bit overenthusiastic to share their ideas. It’s good to have a little grace when it comes to unintentional interruptions.
But if they do it too often for comfort, that’s a little more telling. Even more if they do it only to you.
In that case, it becomes a power move to undermine you. And if I may add, a rather passive-aggressive one at that.
It’s just a roundabout way of sending the message that their input is more valuable than yours.
And if they do this next thing, then I hate to say it, but they’ve probably taken a dislike to you…
2) They’re always eager to correct you
Feedback at work is a valuable tool to help us grow. However, there’s a fine line between honest, well-intentioned feedback, and nitpicking that seems to be on the more malicious side.
Back when I was still a teacher, I had a co-worker who’d jump in like this, with little “corrections” that felt more like barbs.
For example, I once shared at a team meeting with my fellow educators how a parent had lauded our efforts in integrating technology into the classroom.
Right away, my colleague jumped in and said, “Actually, what she said was that her son enjoys using the iPad. Not exactly all the technology you’re using.”
In another instance, when I mentioned “shelves”, she’d say, “They’re actually called cubbyholes.”
You get the idea. I’m all for receiving criticism and feedback well, but I couldn’t deny that her overeagerness was indicative of something else.
It seemed designed to demean me or point out my flaws in a public setting.
And the funny thing is, as much as a co-worker who dislikes you would readily jump in to correct you, they won’t actually be as quick to jump in when you truly need help.
3) They never help you
Not even when you’re clearly struggling.
That’s exactly how my co-teacher above was. Even when I was swamped and needed a little help, she wouldn’t lift a finger.
(I think she might have even felt a little glee watching me struggle…)
Nothing says “dislike” more than a teammate who won’t help you even when they can.
4) They take credit for your work or ideas
Even worse is a teammate who’ll take your idea and present it as their own.
I mean, you can’t get any clearer than that. That’s a co-worker who’s downright disrespectful.
Not only does it show that they don’t value your contributions, it also shows how far they’ll go to lift themselves up.
And the fact that they’ll do it to you shows they don’t respect you as a person, either.
The fact is, a true professional, whether they like you or not, will give credit where credit’s due.
So, steer clear of anyone who’s willing to step on you to reach the next rung of the ladder.
If you ask me, it’s good that they’ve shown you their true colors; at least you know whom not to trust!
5) They don’t celebrate your achievements
Another telltale sign a co-worker doesn’t like you is their lack of enthusiasm when you do something fantastic.
If you land a major client or finish a difficult project, they won’t be giving you a high-five. More likely, they’ll pretend it’s nothing special.
That should tell you something’s off. It might be jealousy or plain old dislike, but whatever it is, it definitely doesn’t sit well with them when they see you performing well.
6) They’re unusually competitive with you
Obviously, the fact that they don’t celebrate your achievements points to one other thing – there’s an underlying current of competition there.
Now, being competitive isn’t inherently bad; it can even be motivating in a healthy, team-focused environment. I’ve had my share of friendly competition with co-workers that made working so much more fun.
But when someone’s always trying to one-up you – and again, only you – it’s usually not because they’re ambitious.
More often than not, it’s because they’re trying to outshine you or make you look less competent in comparison.
7) Passive-aggressive correspondence
How about this? In correspondence, they use overly formal language. Or vague statements that seem to have an underlying message behind them.
Passive-aggressive emails and messages are particularly tricky by virtue of their no-face-to-face interaction.
You can’t use cues like facial expression, body language, and tone to be clear about the spirit in which things are said.
It might be poor communication skills. Again, I’d say to reserve judgment till you see that it’s a pattern.
If it seems to be consistent, it might be safe to say that they aren’t too fond of you.
8) They avoid eye contact or close proximity with you
Speaking of body language, how do they behave when you’re face to face with them?
Do they maintain steady eye contact or do they avert their gaze and keep a wide berth around you?
If someone suddenly occupies themselves with their phone or arranges things on their desk when you enter the room, anything to avoid eye contact…it’s a little disconcerting.
It’s even more concerning if they do it only with you.
9) They rarely do small talk with you
But they do with others. I want to make this distinction because I do get that small talk isn’t easy for everybody.
I mean, it’s kinda curious, right? How come they can go on and on with other co-workers about the latest episode of Queer Eye then turn to stone when you approach?
If they’re all chatty with others but clam up around you, that’s a pretty clear message. At the very least, it’s a sign that they aren’t comfortable around you.
And of course, if they can’t even do small talk with you, it’s safe to assume that you might also see this next sign…
10) They exclude you from social gatherings
Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to say we’re adults now and well past the high school clique mentality, it still does show up at the workplace sometimes.
Maybe you walk into the break room, and your colleagues who’ve been chatting and laughing suddenly go quiet.
Or maybe you find out that they’d all gone drinking at the bar a block away last night. And you weren’t even invited.
That’s a sure sign that something’s up. It might not be as strong as outright dislike, but it could mean that they don’t consider you one of them yet.
And sometimes, this behavior can go overboard and truly affect your work. For instance, they might leave you out of the loop when it comes to scheduled team meetings.
Look, it’s completely normal to have our own work friends and form our own social circles in the office.
But if you’re consistently left out, it can make coming in to work feel horrible. Pretty much like how an outsider might feel in high school.
What to do
The work life is already loaded with plenty of challenges – deadlines, the pressure to excel, a fussy boss to please…it can definitely help to have co-workers we get along with.
That’s why it’s a little hard to bear if you suspect a co-worker dislikes you. If that’s the case, it would help to look at the situation objectively.
Are their actions directly impacting your work performance or creating a toxic environment?
If yes, you could try talking to them in a direct but non-confrontational way. See if you can’t resolve any issues. And I have to stress this – stay professional. Keep the focus on work-related topics.
It might also help to include a neutral third party (like a manager or someone from HR) if you feel uncomfortable going at it alone.
And one last note – it’s okay if you don’t reach a nice, tidy resolution. You can’t force someone else to like you, after all. The best you can do is keep being polite, keep being a team player, and let your work speak for itself.