Work, by nature, is stressful. And nobody is more stressed than the boss — the person who has to make sure everything gets done and has to answer for every mishap that occurs. What’s more, being a boss is hard, non-stop work. It can be easy to let all that stress build to the point of lashing out at employees.
It’s not personal — but when you’re on the receiving end, it sure can feel that way. So how can you tell if your boss is annoyed with you or simply overwhelmed?
It’s Human Nature to Think the Worst
Thinking the worst comes naturally for many of us. In fact, some people’s minds always jump to the worst possible conclusion in any given scenario. A coworker didn’t say hello in the hallway, so they must not like you. Your idea didn’t get picked, so your boss obviously thinks your work sucks. But these things aren’t true at all. This damaging tendency called catastrophizing, and it can make your work, even your life, more difficult.
Catastrophizing is spurred and made worse by imposter syndrome, which is the persistent feeling of inadequacy despite evident success. Imposter syndrome is prevalent. As much as 70% of the population experiences it, reports Forbes.
Assumptions Are Almost Always off the Mark
You know the old adage about what happens when you assume? Well, it’s just as true in the workplace as it is in your personal life. You can’t read your boss’ mind. Any insight you think you have into what they’re feeling is a fantasy you’ve created in your mind to explain their behavior. And what you’re thinking is probably not even in the same ballpark as what’s actually going on.
I’d like to take a moment to share something that happened to me to highlight the point. One year, during a particularly busy season, my boss kept throwing work on my desk, snapping at me and checking to see If I’d done “that thing” every five minutes. I was overwhelmed and felt like I wasn’t doing a good enough job. I even thought about quitting.
At the end of the season, my boss called me into her office and apologized for being so hard on me. Not only that, she gave me a bonus for outperforming the rest of the team. I thought I was failing, when I was actually winning. My boss was just busy and grouchy. That’s all!
How to Deal With Your Boss’ Changing Vibes
With that said, you’re human. You’re going to react to your boss’ attitude and changing vibes. Fortunately, you can deal with it. Your best course of action is to ignore their behavior and wait for their stress levels to wane. If you can’t, then you’ll need to address the problem head-on:
- Take a moment to reflect on why you feel the way you do. You may have thoughts or feelings that are magnifying the situation. Once you take care of those, you may not react as much.
- Try to understand your boss. Forbes recommends identifying what your boss cares about and what they’re afraid of. This will allow you to better understand why your boss reacts the way they do in certain situations.
- Assess your own performance. Are there areas where you can improve? Perhaps your feelings of insecurity stem from your own unhappiness at work.
- Speak to your boss about your feelings and stand your ground. Don’t be disrespectful and don’t allow your boss to disrespect you.
When your boss seems short or snaps at you, give them the benefit of the doubt. You’re likely reading the situation through an overly personal lens. If it continues, or if you can’t “get over it,” speak to your boss. Look for ways you can remedy the situation before it becomes a source of strife or resentment.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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