You pick up speed walking to the elevator or duck into the men’s room if you see your director approaching. Just trying to avoid a stressful interaction. You’re a professional, and good at what you do, yet you live in fear of your boss calling you out or judging you negatively. Avoiding your boss because of the fear of a potentially negative outburst is a huge distraction – both to delivering your best, most creative work and to your long term career. Whether your fear is based in reality, or not, here are some thoughts to help you to move past your self-defeating behavior:
- Misplaced fear: could your emotions really be a fear of something or someone else that you’re attributing to your boss? Not sure? Why not call your coach and talk this through to find out what’s really bugging you?
- Exaggerated fear: Is your boss stressed out and you’re getting the brunt of it? While your boss’s behavior may make you feel uncomfortable, odds are this will pass if you are not the cause of the boss’s outbursts.
- Self fear: Do you, in your heart of hearts, know that you could, or should, be doing better or differently? In either of these cases the shortest way to resolution is to tackle the issue head-on. Are you avoiding your boss in order to avoid validating that your fear is based on your self-knowledge that you are, to some degree, actually failing? Sitting down with your boss may be exactly what you need to help map out a plan for improvement.
If the thought of a meaningful sit down with your boss seems impossible, ask your coach to do some role playing with you to help you find the correct tone and words for a positive conversation with your boss – other than you, the only person with the power to change the current dynamic. Creating value by anticipating your boss’ needs and consistently delivering against your responsibilities is sure to help reduce your fear factor. Regardless of the cause, fear of your boss is bound to have a negative effect on your performance. Turn your fear into a motivator for change. Work to get to the root cause. After successfully working on this, you can breathe a sigh of relief, stop avoiding and, instead, begin to reclaim who you are at work while focusing on your personal and professional growth and success. ….and you might want to hold that elevator the next time you see her coming!