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What To Do When Your Boss Gives You the Cold Shoulder

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According to research, giving someone the “cold shoulder” activates a pain response. This means that the emotion they get from ignoring them stems from the pain receptacles.

According to Kipling Williams, a Purdue Professor of psychological sciences, he explains that “Being excluded or ostracized is an invisible form of bullying that doesn’t leave physical bruises.  And therefore we often underestimate its impact.”

Williams further stated that those who suffer from ostracism experience painful feelings for a long time.  He explains is due to the three stages of ostracism – The act of being ignored, coping and resignation

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Unfortunately, because we humans are hardwired to feel a range of emotions including the feeling of being ignored, whatever we do, we are bound to detect it the minute someone starts ignoring us.

And due to the fact that ignoring someone leaves no physical scars, it’s a cruel game that goes on in any and every social setting including the workplace.

Let’s look at what experts have observed from studying persons who constantly suffer from being ignored.

From Professor Kipling,

  • People who resort to aggression and provocative behavior often feel there’s no hope for re-inclusion.
  • They will go to great lengths just to get noticed.
  • They will do anything to enhance their self-esteem and sense of belonging.
  • In worse situations, someone who’s been ignored for so long will give up on life because they can’t bear the pain.

Professor Paul Schrodt adds that

  • With individuals who have some form of relationship, whether romantic or cordial, when one partner ignores the other, it reduces the capacity for them to communicate in a healthy and meaningful manner.
  • Also, it can lead to extreme feelings of anxiety which can actually cause health-related problems.

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Now, here’s a look at other consequences of giving someone the cold shoulder

  • People who are given the cold shoulder eventually break down into a state of constant sadness and depression.
  • It can give rise to mental health issues in the sufferer
  • It may even cause critical psychological problems which could even become permanent
  • People who suffer ostracism may also suffer from physical side effects such as unbelievably high-stress levels, high blood pressure, etc.
  • Behavioural changes may also manifest since the act of ignoring someone is actually abusive and traumatic. And like we know, traumatic experiences are damaging to a person’s psyche and personality.

Since we’ve got some education on the life-threatening effects that arise out of the act of giving someone the cold shoulder, here’s how to protect yourself immediately you notice you are getting ignored by a friend, your partner or family member.

Even though getting ignored for a prolonged period of time by a stranger will also cause you to feel insignificant, invisible, intimidated, powerless and worthless, giving the cold shoulder is often the weapon of choice for people you have a form of relationship with. Usually a close relationship.


Experts say that because it is easy to get away with and also can be easily denied.

Here’s what to do if someone, say, your boss gives you the cold shoulder.

First and foremost, don’t act out or break down in front of them. The reason is that usually when someone starts ignoring you, they do that to assert some form of control over you. So, therefore, showing them that you are strongly affected negatively by their actions will only ginger them to continue.

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In addition, this is the time to show them your strongest personality. So let’s say your boss is ignoring you. What do you do? Bring out your inner bravery and confront them on the matter. If you are also a good talker who knows the appropriate things to say in every situation, this shouldn’t be hard for you at all.

When you approach your boss and talk about why s/he is ignoring you, I think it will make your boss think twice about keeping up the attitude or quitting it. Because s/he becomes aware of the fact that you are not one to be toyed with.

Furthermore, get help. It is not advisable to sit in a corner and worry about the problem alone. A problem shared is half solved you know, hence sharing is the way to go.

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