Are You Afraid of Your Boss?
Are you hiding out and hoping your boss won’t notice you? Are you crazy nervous when you have to meet with him/her or ask a question? While the fear is real, you may not realize that it’s not anything you’re doing at all. It may be that your boss is distracted or has just come from a difficult meeting and your discomfort may have no basis in fact at all.
What can you do to calm your fears so you can reach your full potential? Here are a few ideas:
- Your nerves may have more to do with a past experience than your current job. If you can really see what’s at the root of your discomfort, you will be able to address it and move on. If you’ve had a “bad boss” experience in your past or been fired unfairly, you may have some residual worries that are being carried over into this position. Don’t let it keep you from asking questions, interacting with your boss or bringing new ideas to the table.
- Realize that your boss is a person. Everyone has a bad day once in a while. It may seem that he/she is ignoring you or being particularly picky, but it may have nothing to do with you at all. Most things in the workplace aren’t personal anyway. Give your boss the benefit of the doubt that something else may be affecting his/her behavior on any given day.
- If you really feel it’s you, address it with your boss so he/she has an opportunity to clarify expectations and set goals. You can say that you’ve gotten the impression that there may be a problem and set up a time to discuss it. It’s gutsy, but may be worth it in the end.
- Most people want to be liked. We’re conditioned to that from an early age. That’s how you operate with your friends and family. But at work, you can create a persona that’s the “professional you.” Be outwardly calm, confident and approachable. Present the image of someone who’s on his way up (the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach) and you’ll be less likely to feel so nervous about the boss.
- Do amazing work. One way to ensure that you’re “not on the chopping block” is to always do your best. Look for ways to be helpful and improve on what you and the team are doing. Don’t give the boss any opportunity to find you replaceable.
- Don’t complain. It’s never a good idea to join the crowd for drinks and start sharing your worries and concerns with everyone from work. If you feel awkward now, just think how you’ll feel if some of the things you’ve said get back to the boss.
- Remember you have value to the company. They saw something in you that caused them to hire you in the first place. Draw on whatever skills and experience you have to bring value to the team and learn all you can to enhance your role in the group.
- Prepare some topics for conversation if you happen to find yourself alone with the boss for a few minutes. If you learn a bit about him/her from LinkedIn or Twitter, you’ll know if you have a sports team in common, enjoy a similar hobby or have travelled to some of the same locations. If you can make small talk on a common subject for a few minutes, it may break the ice and make you feel more comfortable.
- Take note of your boss’s body language and communication style. Is he/she a numbers person? Does he/she like to keep things informal? Once you sense the right approach, you’ll both be more comfortable interacting with each other.
- Don’t overanalyze every word they say. Don’t try to second-guess what they mean… it’ll make you crazy and you’ll likely be wrong anyway. It just makes things more awkward than they need to be. Step back and think about the actual feedback you’re getting and don’t try to guess at hidden meanings.
- Finally, you can role-paly some conversations with a friend or family member acting as your boss to you can feel more at ease when you have to speak to him/her. Think of something interesting to share that you’re excited about. Being positive and energized is contagious and will reveal a bit of your personality at the same time.
If you’re new to the job and are feeling nervous, remind yourself that it’s in your boss’s best interest to see you succeed. They have a vested interest in having you stay and fit in, assist in meeting their goals and hey, they expect you to have questions, because you’re new. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself, they understand you need to learn to do your job well and don’t be afraid to ask questions.