Published On: Thu, Sep 15th, 2011

How to Deal With Favoritism at Work

Favoritism happens. End of story. It’s even been proven by a recent study by Georgetown University. While we can protest it, we still need to learn how to deal with it and win. Your career and success are of course dependent on delivering high quality work but you still need to take care of the intangibles like “favoritism”.

Let’s look at fighting the favoritism battle specifically and how to win over your boss.

Develop your relationship

Managers practice favoritism based on factors unrelated to performance or skill but rather on friendship or connections. Build a professional relationship with your boss without sucking up! As in any relationship, there will be challenges at times – but its how you deal with those challenges that matter.

Learn about your superior’s life i.e. their family and community. Recognize and become familiar with their personal interests and create small talk around those interests.

Use compliments with caution. Compliments regarding work, or something they identify with such as hobbies are okay; however, use compliments where deserving without wasting time on undue credit. “Over complimenting” someone is a dead giveaway that you are sucking up.

Know your boundaries and know when to engage in small talk. Safe topics include sports, the weather and pets etc. You’ll be surprised to see that executives enjoy talking about the incidental aspects of life as well.

Build a positive attitude

Work with a purpose and be a good leader, as this will provide direction for others. The attitude you portray is an important characteristic that your boss and co-workers are constantly aware of. If conflicts arise, resolve them without confrontation. Always maintain a positive, forward-looking attitude to achieve success.


Most managers expect you to work diligently while maintaining and improving your skills. There will be times when your performance does not meet expectations and calls for improvement. How you deal with these events is very important. Accept valid criticism without throwing a tantrum and give and be open to suggestions.

Keep open communication between yourself and your manager. This will aid in resolving conflicts immediately as issues arise, even though they may require difficult conversations.

Remain Loyal

Loyalty is critical to maintaining a good relationship with your superiors and the organization. Loyalty can be expressed in many ways without being viewed as sucking up.  For example, if your boss or your department is under attack by others, stand up for them.

Never gossip about your superiors! It may add spice to your conversation around the water cooler and be useful in building peer relationships but it can and will destroy your career. Engaging in negative talk about your boss runs the danger of rumors being validated and you being perceived as the office “gossip king/queen”.

Always practice the following:

  • Learn your boss and match your style to her/him.
  • Accept valid criticism without throwing a tantrum.
  • Respect and MEET deadlines.
  • Lend an ear to your bosses problems and provide input where appropriate.



About the Author

- Contributor

Search Jobs