Favoritism is alive and well in the workplace.
"Given the complexities involved in relationships at work and the myriad of factors that determine how much we like someone or respect their talents, it's simply human nature that we are going to, no matter how subtly, and despite our best intentions, play favorites," says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of "The Humor Advantage."
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," agrees and says there's often a fine line between bosses who appreciate an employee's good work and want to empower the person with more projects, and bosses who favor that employee to the detriment of others.
"If bosses are brazen in practicing favoritism, they can seriously hurt team morale and increase turnover — not to mention cause legal trouble by creating a hostile work environment," Taylor explains.
Plus, she says, the more you're singled out and given special treatment, the more risk associated with securing the cooperation you need from your team. "It can put an overall strain on your productivity because your work should always be the focus," Taylor explains. "Your office is not a popularity contest — and when it is, your days of glory can be fleeting."
If you suspect you're being favored, take a second to feel flattered then stay humble, remain professionals, and talk to your boss if things get out of hand.
Here are 14 signs you're the boss' favorite:
They include you in more meetings than your colleagues
This is a key sign, as it shows they respect your judgment and wisdom, and they recognize that you have positive contributions to make, says Kerr.
"No one enjoys being in meetings with people they don't have an affinity towards, so it's a reasonably good sign they also like you as a person."
You're chosen for all the plum projects
When you're elected the boss' "fave" you often feel like you're on a roll and can't lose. One great project follows another.
"Your boss feels like you have a proven track record and is almost doubling down each time you get more responsibility, because you're a good bet," says Taylor.
You are their go-to person in a crisis
If you are the first on your boss' radar for getting things done or dealing with a crisis, it means they have an enormous amount of trust in your abilities, Kerr explains.
They invite you to accompany them on out-of-town trips or to conferences
Again, this demonstrates deep respect for your talents, and a desire to share travel experiences or learning opportunities shows a commitment to furthering your professional development, says Kerr.
They ask your input more than they ask for anyone else's
"Asking for input is a surefire sign that your boss respects your ideas, judgment, and wisdom," says Kerr. If you seem to be the only one they ask for input from, there's a good chance you're the favorite.
They let you be forthright
Another sign: You can be more candid with your boss because they have more of an open mind to hear your constructive input, says Taylor. "If you speak on behalf of the staff, telling your boss he was harsh, he or she might actually listen; they respect your opinion."
You have unique freedoms
Unlike other employees, you may find that your schedule has less scrutiny or your work is not as micromanaged; you can speak up more without as much criticism, and so on, says Taylor.
"You may feel that, overall, you have more license to act a little more like a peer than a subordinate. The boss has empowered you with little censure and may even let you speak on their behalf at times. They trust your judgment."
They trust you more than everyone else, so they are more hands-off with you
"If you get more latitude than other employees — more freedom to take risks, to work your own hours, and make your own decisions — that's an excellent sign that you're in your boss' good books," says Kerr.
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You tend to be first in line for perks
When there are extra tickets to a ball game or concert, does your boss always offer them to you first? "This is where you may begin to feel guilt; when your influence strays outside business acumen," says Taylor.
They give you the inside scoop
Sharing key business information, particularly when it's delivered under the heading, "Don't tell anyone but ..." or "Let's just keep this between you and I" means they view you as their most trusted confidante, Kerr explains.
They share a lot of personal information with you
If your boss takes the time to share family details and personal information with you more so than with other employees, there's a good chance it's because you're their favorite, says Kerr.
"If you're the 'teacher's pet,' you'll have the coveted role of inner-circle adviser on matters that typically go beyond your scope," adds Taylor. "Your boss values your insight and sees your contributions as exceeding your job function."
You feel very comfortable taking risks
If you feel there's little downside to taking smart risks, it may say something about how your boss treats you. "If you believe your boss will be supportive as long as you don't screw up in a big way, it's probably because your manager has given you a feeling of autonomy based on past successes," says Taylor.
They invite you on personal social events and include you in family gatherings
Does your boss invite you to their home for Thanksgiving, or birthday parties, or family dinners? If you're the only one in the office who gets these invites, you're most likely the favorite.
They're nicer to you than anyone else
Does your boss smile at you more than anyone else? Are they more patient and flexible with you? Are they more lenient with you, or friendlier to you than all of your colleagues?
If they are just nicer to you overall, it's probably because they like you best.