I'm not sure how else to explain this, but my manager keeps playing little power games with me. Being slightly disrespectful, playing physical domination games in person and not taking things seriously, being absent-minded in meetings, being late, scheduling in very inconvenient ways for me but convenient for them. The manager got a big promotion the past year and I noticed a change in attitude. I notice the more sycophantic and beggar-like I communicate, the quicker and more responsive the manager is. I dug my own hole in this situation because I bent-over-backwards the first few months we were working together as I was excited for a new great opportunity, but I feel if I keep being submissive the manager will not respect me (promote me, help me, etc.) and the power games will continue.

We are in a setting where I am a novice to the field and the manager has complete control over me. The manager has great connections, and I want our partnership to flourish and for them to help my career. One more thing. I was in a weaker position from the beginning of my time on this team because I was pulled in from a weaker background than most people. I noticed the manager communicates with other people differently (and they communicate with the manager differently).

  • 2
    How long have you been at this company?
    – Twyxz
    Dec 14, 2018 at 12:57
  • Your manager may have some issues but what are you trying to accomplish?
    – sf02
    Dec 14, 2018 at 13:29
  • 4
    There's no version of this story where you convince your manager that you should be respected. Forgive my bluntness, but your manager sees you as a dog, and you'll always be a dog. I've seen a few of these in my time. You can try to earn that respect, but this assumes your manager is objective enough to notice your progress and effort. If you definitely confirm that he might change his perception, then you have a chance. Otherwise, be prepared to never be respected for your work, no matter how competent you prove to be. Dec 14, 2018 at 13:48
  • Maybe you are overreacting. If you are novice on the field you still have things to learn. Dec 14, 2018 at 14:45
  • You no longer want to be a 'yes-man'?
    – Kilisi
    Dec 14, 2018 at 15:41

3 Answers 3


You cannot change him, but you can change yourself, and that will change the relationship.

The #1 thing you need to do to change the dynamic is to stop smiling and laughing so much in response to his antics. Smiling and laughing (unless something actually funny happens) is often a subservient response to higher status people. Once you are aware of this, you'll see it a lot in social interactions.

I recommend doing this gradually over a couple of weeks. If you do it all at once it will be jarring to your manager who will (correctly) see it as a power/status play, and will likely take it as a sign of discontent and/or hostility. That's not completely incorrect, of course, but I'm assuming you want to mask it a bit to smooth things over. Doing it over a couple of weeks will still be jarring to the manager, but won't be seen as quite a naked power/status play.

Oh, and stop begging, no matter how much slower it makes him respond.


1) Never beg at work. You are pushing towards the same goal, which is making the company money to pay your salary. That should be your goal, and that should be your manager's goal (with respect to paying his salary, not yours, although in a work situation there is "a rising tide lifts all ships" effect). If your product is delayed due to his lack of communication, then your company loses money and your boss doesn't get his salary. He (should) has a vested interest in making you succeed, because if you don't succeed then his salary might not get paid. Therefore, rather than say:

Hey, Joe, could I please have xxx thing I need? I'll buy you a coffee if you send it to me.

You should be saying:

Hey, Joe, I need xxx thing to complete yyy task. If I can't get xxx by end of day today, then it will cause the project to be delayed by zzz time scale.

Now your manager has an incentive: If he doesn't give you what you need, his project will be delayed and he'll look bad to his higher-ups. In particular, though, you should do this over email; the reason is because these sorts of people tend to like to blame others when their megalomaniacal antics go awry. So you should keep a record of this so when HR calls you in for insubordination and sabotage (which they might, in an extreme case) you can show them the letter you sent:

I told Joe on xxx day that the project would be delayed by zzz time. He did not give me the resources I requested, and as such the project was delayed by zzz time as I predicted. Joe had knowledge of the situation and mismanaged his team. Here's a copy of the email I sent to Joe.

2) You did not dig your own hole. It is normal for people new to a company or industry to act more deferential to their superiors when they first entered a new company. Your manager should not be treating you this way regardless, and the fact that you are a novice or from whatever background should have no bearing on anything in this situation.


Welcome to the human condition and indeed the workplace!

At work you're always someones subordinate unless you're the owner of the company.
(arguably they are subordinate to the client but that's another matter)

While you're not supposed to be treated disrespectfully you better accept the afforementioned fact.

That means, out of convenience, necessity or indifference people will schedule meetings and will do things that inconvenience you instead of them.

Unless your actual work is detrimentally influenced by this or it reaches into the out of bounds private area of your life, SUCK IT UP!

Do your work to the best of your abilities and improve yourself while doing so.

Discuss your work objectively, think for yourself and if you have issues with task assignments or found improvements COMMUNICATE.

Keep personal feelings out of work relationships.

Find another company (or team) to work at if you feel you can't work with the person you described in your post.
(it's unlikely that you'll change them)

Don't dwell on it and make sure you're happy at your workplace and with your work.

  • There's a difference between being a subordinate and, as @ShinEmperor so eloquently put, being seen as a dog.
    – Jim Clay
    Dec 14, 2018 at 21:09
  • @JimClay which I pointed out "not supposed to be treated disrespectfully"...mind you, many treat their dogs much better than humans, so... Dec 14, 2018 at 21:11

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