Company president thinks we’re chopped liver

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “The president of our company speaks only to certain people. Several times a week, she comes into our office and says hello to two of my co-workers. She says nothing to the rest of us, even though we’re sitting right there. Since we all do the same job, we can’t help feeling offended when she ignores us. What do you think about this?”  —Overlooked

Answer: Like many executives, your president fails to realize that everything she does sends a message.  Because top managers have a lot of power, their actions are always closely monitored by employees.

When the president breezes by your desk without so much as a nod, the message you get is that you’re not important. And when she speaks to your co-workers, you understandably feel that she prefers them to you. However, she might be quite surprised by these conclusions.  

All top executives are highly goal-oriented. As they shift rapidly from task to task, they are often completely oblivious to the feelings of those around them. Also, many high-level managers are socially shy. They can talk all day about business, but informal conversation makes them uncomfortable.  

Smart executives eventually grasp the importance of being friendly, but your president has yet to learn this lesson.  Not recognizing the impact of her words, she may speak to your favored colleagues simply because she knows them better.  

To encourage communication, here’s my simple suggestion: stop waiting for the president to speak first.  Whenever you see her, smile and say hello or ask a question about the business. If you start initiating conversation, I bet you’ll soon be added to the greeting list.

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