No one wants to talk about it. But we all know it happens. Favoritism in the workplace is one of the most frustrating things to deal with as an employee. When your boss is giving more attention, work, or benefits to someone based on their relationship instead of on the merits of that employee, it’s unfair and puts you at a disadvantage.

According to Forbes, there was a survey conducted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business that found 92% of senior business executives have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, including at their own companies and about a quarter of the polled executives admitted to practicing favoritism themselves.

So how do you deal with it when you find yourself in the position of watching your boss play favorites? It’s not easy but it is possible to navigate the situation in a positive way. Use these seven tips for dealing with favoritism in the workplace to maintain your professionalism while moving forward in your career.

Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire

Try not to give any undue attention to the favorite employee. They are already being given enough attention by the boss and probably by your other upset co-workers. Also, avoiding that employee is just a passive-aggressive way of giving them attention. The best thing to do is treat them like you would treat all your other co-workers.

Don’t Lash Out

The last thing you want is to lose your temper and act out of emotion. The only thing this will accomplish is making yourself look foolish and immature. Remember, you’re a professional and this job is building your career. How you handle difficult co-workers and challenging bosses, will become a part of your professional reputation. Use this time to make it a good one.

Do Your Best Work

It’s easy to get caught up in the frustration when dealing with favoritism. Be careful that it doesn’t cause you to become bitter or resentful. Those things can have an impact on your work performance and you’ll be doing yourself a disservice in the long run. Continue to do your best work, be timely, and maintain your professionalism.

Be a Team Player

Now is not a good time to be a lone ranger. Connect with your co-workers and be helpful, even to the one being shown favoritism. Do your part to build up the team around you. It’s possible that there are misunderstandings that have resulted in favoritism, or maybe the favoritism itself is being misunderstood. Don’t make assumptions that will cause more harm.

Make Yourself Valuable

Go beyond your best work. Consider ways to gain more knowledge in your field or add value to your team. Assess your current role and ask yourself how it can be better, and then find actionable ways to make it happen. When you prove yourself to be a valuable part of the company or team, you position yourself in a way that allows your voice to be heard when it needs to be.

Have a Clear Vision of What You Want

Take some time to consider what it is you truly want from your job. Are you trying to get a promotion? Do you prefer to do more of one type of assignment? Maybe you love what you do and you simply want to continue as you are. Whatever it is, clarify the vision you have for yourself and then write it down.

Talk to Your Boss

Once you have a clear vision of what you want from your job, ask yourself this question: what it is that the favored employee is getting that I want? When you approach your boss, discuss the issue of what you want, rather than discussing the favored employee. Speaking directly to the idea that your boss is showing favoritism might put them on the defense and cause you to appear petty or desperate. Instead, shift the focus to your job and gaining the result you’re truly looking for.

Dealing with favoritism in the workplace is never fun. Unfortunately, it is the scenario many people face on a regular basis. Having the tools to work through the situation in a positive way can be a game changer for your career. Use these tips the next time you’re faced with a boss who shows favoritism, and let us know how it goes!


  1. @carefreespiritfairy It’s so frustrating because no one really talks about it even though the favoritism is pretty blatant. Good luck with your situation. Maybe some of these tips will help you pull through.

  2. Definitely get the feels. I had a manager who practiced favoritism so obviously and then asked everyone, “Do you think there’s favoritism in this company?” We were literally gobsmacked when he asked us that. haha…

  3. OMG we have one of these at my work. She is completely favoured by the Director and Assistant Director but I don’t know why. She has nowhere near the experience others do and she’s unorganised, can’t communicate effectively (like when you work on a joint project she makes no sense about what needs to be done and cannot give clear instructions) and is one of those who is nice to your face but will go and gossip about you behind your back. I don’t trust her, and I am stuck working with her for a little bit until this one project ends (which should be soon). Thank god for that.

  4. @misspixiie Ugh. So sorry to hear that you’re having so much trouble with this coworker. Workplace favoritism is so frustrating! The best thing you can do is “do your best work”! Good luck! XO

  5. Based on the tips/solutions to deal with this, the writer is saying “suck it, nothing you can do or say will change it.

    This is terrible advice. Save your sanity. Put your resume out there and find a career where you are appreciated. If the company is incapable of managing higher ups who favor people, its a terrible company to work for. I know this from experience.

    And yet… here I am again, another company where the CEO favors a pretentious negative nancy kiss ass.

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