Bosses, even great bosses, can feel unapproachable. When you have a great idea, you might worry if they’ll share your excitement. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, you might worry about seeming incompetent or even that you’ll get fired. These worries might make talking to your boss intimidating. In both cases, you realize that talking with your boss would be helpful, but you still feel like you don’t know how to do it.
Many people are wrestling with the same question. Authority figures, like bosses or managers, are a trigger for many people’s social anxiety. What you might not realize is that your fear of telling your boss what you want and need at work can hurt your career growth. You might be missing chances to try new projects, feel better supported, or share your goals. Below are some ways you can start to feel more comfortable approaching your boss:
- Prepare what you want to say before meetings. It can be helpful to make an agenda before meeting with your boss. Getting organized can help you feel less flustered in the moment. Having a list can also give you something to refer to in case you forget one of your talking points.
- Remember your boss wants you to succeed. Your manager’s job is to help you do the best you can and further your professional growth. If you succeed, they succeed.
- Remind yourself that your boss is on your side. Your boss can empathize with what you’re going through because they were once there too. When you’re able to communicate what hurdles you’re facing at work or what projects you want to work on, they can provide advice and guidance on how to make that happen. The more they understand and know, the more they can help remove obstacles and advocate for more resources for you.
- Talk to your boss more. Yes, you read that right. Spending more time talking with your boss, even if the interactions are small, will help you build rapport with your boss so they feel more approachable. Often when something is out of the norm, it is more likely to make you anxious. The more you chat with your boss, the more natural it will feel. Maybe you start by saying good morning each day and then move towards asking them to coffee or even lunch.
- Find the right time to have meetings. For some people, early meetings are better so that they don’t spend the entire day thinking about it and becoming increasingly anxious. For others, having a meeting later in the day is better because it allows for more time to prepare and feel ready. Figure out what helps you and schedule your meetings accordingly.
Don’t let your anxiety about talking to your boss keep you from thriving in your career. If you’re still unsure if you will be able to overcome your worries around approaching your manager, you might want to consider resources that can help you overcome your social anxiety. Joyable’s online CBT program might be able to help.
To learn more about how Joyable works, start a free trial. The techniques you learn and activities you complete can help you become more comfortable in situations that make you feel socially anxious.