How to infer boss’ impression about you

There are not many bosses, who are open and willing to clearly convey their mind or impressions to their sub-ordinates! On other hand, most sub-ordinates hesitate to talk candidly to their bosses. The result is both bosses and sub-ordinates work in respective mental compartments; build opinions, expectations, hopes or frustration and Pandora’s box opens only during yearly appraisal or considerations! Often employees get a shock when they come to know the way they have been recognized or rewarded!!

So, how about trying to learn to infer or interpret boss’ behavior towards you on a routine basis and take timely actions to correct or improve the situation?

Faint signals from a boss

It is a good idea to learn body language, which really reveals a lot what’s going on in someone’s mind.

If positive impression of boss is building in your favor, you would get following signals:

  1. If you happen to come across boss in corridor or elevator of your office premise, he (no gender bias) would not be stern faced, looks into your eyes and greets you.
    If he does not look into your eyes but greets, it is not for any love for you; it is more out of his habit.
  2. He responds to your important e mail communications within 24 hours or to not-so-important mails within 48 hours.
  3. If he has to communicate an official message to select group of employees in his department, he includes you.
  4. If he comes to know that you have done a good job, he on his own sends you a message of compliments.
  5. If you seek an appointment to meet him, he takes no time to give you time.
  6. He grants you leave or permission to depart from office early on 3 consecutive occasions with no question asked.

Clear signals of dissatisfaction

If your supervisor starts to become uncomfortable, you would notice the following developments, in addition to reverse of above 6 points:

  1. He does not come to your work place without a purpose for a month or more and inquire how are you or how is work or like?
  2. In departmental meeting, he appears to be non-attentive to what you are talking or contributing to discussion.
  3. If you bump into him while leaving office in evening, he does not say “see you again” or “bye; have a nice evening”.
  4. When challenging opportunity comes up, he ignores you.
  5. He does not overload you with responsibilities.
  6. If you meet him with prior appointment, he gives you impression that he does not have enough time to listen and understand your points or issues.
    You would also find that he attends to incoming calls, which are non-customer or not from his seniors and cuts on time meant for you.

Loud signals for his love for you!

If your boss is impressed or overwhelmed by you, then you can expect clear signals like:

  1. He will take initiative to call you and discuss some departmental issues, he is facing. While doing so, he would share with you some of his personal issues or stories.
  2. In a group meeting, either he would not close any point without seeking your opinion or he would take extra efforts to side with you.
  3. If you do a good job, he would not only send you e mail of compliments but also visit your work place to thank you.
  4. You would start to hear from your peers that boss was talking good of you or you would face envy of your peers for being in boss’ good books.
  5. He would welcome your suggestions or initiative openly in group meetings.
  6. If he speaks anything harsh to you, he may later be unduly regretful on one to one basis.

Finally, the best bet is to maintain open communication with your boss to regularly understand his expectations and seek feedback on your performance.

I would be happy to know whether above is helpful to you.


8 responses to “How to infer boss’ impression about you”

  1. Milind Medhekar Avatar
    Milind Medhekar

    Dear Mr. Lohia,
    A very good article indeed and very true in practical sense. My past experience has been that unless there is something drastically wrong, most bosses would refrain from giving any negative feedback to employees. Some even dread to talk to their employees about such things to avoid non-cooperation from the employees. So, if a boss is reluctant anyway to talk about such things, it does not matter whether what signals an employee is reading – he is never going to get true feedback even on asking what is wrong. That will frustrate the employee even more. Boss can be goody-goody and yet when the salary review comes, the result is far below the expectation.

    So, in such cases, employee readings the signs of bosses’ is not very effective in rectifying the situation. I think, bosses need to be trained in their people skills to give true and fair feedback. That would perhaps achieve desired result from the organisations point of view.


    Milind Medhekar

    1. Murli Avatar

      I highly appreciate your valuable views and sharing your experience!

      What you have stated is very true that most bosses are reluctant to give candid and fair feedback to employees. Yes, bosses should be trained for people skills and that’s what most organizations have started doing for years. Don’t you think so? But, what I have observed such training programs have yielded only limited results. Effectiveness of leaders training in nearly all countries is still a far cry!

      In such a case, rather than getting shock only during salary review, don’t you believe it would help employees to understand minds of their bosses and initiate corrective actions in time? If they need to improve, they should. But, if they find their bosses unreasonable, then ask for a change within same organization or at worst, seek a change to new employer, which would happen in any case after lot of pains if boss’ attitude was untenable!

  2. Rudra Avatar

    How I wish I had a boss like this one in the picture! 😉

    Well, after going through your entire post and considering all the points, I can genuinely say that I’ve had some good bosses on me over the years.

    The whole post is assuredly helpful and in-fact an incredible eye-opener for many without a shadow of doubt!! Hope this one reaches to one and all…

    Great one!!

    BTW, this should also apply vice-versa! 🙂


    1. Murli Avatar

      Wishes do come true! So, why not yours?

      I am glad to know your positive experience with your bosses!!

      I indeed appreciate your valuable feedback and complementary views. Yes, it does apply vice versa.

  3. Deepali Kanojia Avatar
    Deepali Kanojia

    Dear Sir,

    Thanks you so much .This is what i was looking for 🙂

    It will really help me to interpret boss behavior.

    Thanks & Regards ,

    Deepali Kanojia

    1. Murli Avatar

      You are very welcome!

      I am very glad that you got what you were looking for. I wish you the Best!!

  4. Murli Lohia Avatar
    Murli Lohia

    From: prashant shingare []
    Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 8:48 PM

    To: Murli Lohia

    Subject: RE: How to infer boss’ impression about you

    Dear Sir,

    I felt as if you are writing about my own experiences. very true and useful.

    Thank you for sharing.


    1. Murli Avatar

      You are very welcome!

      I can’t thank you enough for your feedback. It is encouraging to know that your experience validates contents of the article!!

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