What to Do When Your Principal Doesn’t Like You

Author: Rich Atkinson


What else could this mean?

When your principal is around, do the vibes in the room get frosty? It may be more than the principal doesn’t like you—especially if he or she behaves briskly to everyone, whether they are teachers, students, or parents. 

Here are some possible reasons:

  • Your principal’s cold personality might stem from their highly driven “D” personality that elevates projects over people.
  • Perhaps they don’t manage stress well. They respond with hurtful words or harsh reactions.
  • Their review is coming up, and the school board may want to make a change.
  • It could be misdirected anger toward another person.
  • Or a million other reasons.

So, what’s a frustrated teacher to do?

  1. Respond to Your Principal With Kindness.

You probably didn’t want to hear that.

If your interactions with this impossible leader bring you to tears, try to break their aggressive personality with a smile and kind words. Ask them about their family. Bring cookies or donuts to school and share them with your colleagues and your principal.

  1. Communicate in a Mutually Understanding Way 
  • Speak their language. When talking with a principal who has a driven, dominant personality, give them the bottom line. It may be nothing personal. They are in a hurry and want you to get to the point.
  • Ask them clarifying questions. Seek first to understand: “Can you explain what you mean by . . . ?”  “Are you saying . . . ?”
  • Seek their opinion on how to resolve an issue. Trusting or valuing their input may help resolve some of the tension in your relationship.
  1. Consider a New Frame of Reference

Author and leadership expert Steven Covey asks us to consider a new perspective on why a person is acting up by having us ask this question: “What else could this mean?” 1 In other words, what else is going on in their life?

  • Marriage/relationship troubles
  • Health issues or sick relatives
  • Difficult children at home
  • Job security
  • Financial issues

Responding to your principal with kindness, and seeking two-way communication that speaks their language and seeks to understand should go a long way in mending your relationship. In addition, look for their help by understanding what’s behind their reactions. This understanding should help you start fresh with your principal and resolve any conflicts.

For more information on relationships, read The Challenges Of Handling Difficult Parents.

About the Author

Rich Atkinson

Rich Atkinson began his writing career with a community paper in Ohio.

He has worked for a magazine. Travel assignments have taken him outside the country to Haiti and Guatemala. In the U.S., he has journeyed to Atlanta, Boston, Milwaukee, and many other places for feature stories.

When not writing, Rich finds time to read and enjoys listening to authors discuss writing on podcasts and in YouTube videos.

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