Whether you've been at your job for a decade or you just started, your boss will always scare you, at least a little. You might be the best of friends outside of the office, but once you're together under that florescent lighting, the dynamic becomes unavoidably present. Your boss > you. And while that's how it should be, sometimes that very dynamic can make it so that clear communication is not accessible or attainable.
So what do you do when you have this nagging suspicion that your boss is mad at you, but hasn't yet taken the time to let you know? You're sure of it — they're terse, less personable, but with only you; they don't take the time to ask you how you are or avoid eye contact at all costs. They want you to know that they're unhappy with you and you can't decide if you want them to just let it out and tell you what the problem is, or if you want to just win them over with kindness and brown-nosery until they're not mad anymore.
You're fooling yourself if you say you don't care, because even if you hate your job, it doesn't feel good to be choking on negativity that you can't place or defend yourself from. The fear that someone is mad at you can easily trigger stress responses. It can keep you up at night, keep you anxious and unable to perform well at your job. And while you might be waiting for your boss to make the move, remember that the fact that they're annoyed with you might not be as important to them as it is to you. You might have to be the bigger person and initiate resolution. Here are a few different circumstances you might be in an a few ways to get out of them!
If You Messed Up
People make mistakes on the job all the time. But when you're the one who makes the mistake, you think no one's ever effed up as much in the history of time. If you've messed up and you believe your boss is disappointed in you, but hasn't said so directly, it's probably best to schedule some time with your boss. You'll want to make sure that you understand why you messed up and what you can do it avoid it happening again in the future. If you know the answers and can talk about the subject without being defensive or making excuses, you should have a word with your boss. It's good to let the people who pay for your skill set to know that you're constantly striving to improve and that quality control is important to you.
If You Might Have Offended Your Boss
It's happened to everyone. You let your guard down and get a little bit too casual with your boss and something totally inappropriate slips through your teeth. You can literally see the words hit your boss's face as it sours and her warmth leaves the building. You probably said sorry immediately, and your boss probably said that it was fine and walked away, but in their head they're more likely to just write you off then they are to spend any time wallowing in it. If you've already apologized, let it go. Try to prove your character in other ways. Don't make your mistake take more time out of your bosses busy life. The longer you drag it out, the longer your boss has to be reminded of it and the more insecure you come across. Next time you'll be more careful when socializing with your superiors.
If You Have Poor Communication
If you and your boss are bad at communicating, it might always seems like your boss is a little bit mad at your or a little bit too uninterested in your existence. While it can be good to go under the radar, it's better to make sure that the people who pay you know exactly what they're paying you for and why your place in the company is invaluable. Realistically, your boss might not have the time to get to know you and develop inside jokes and office handshakes, but it's important (especially if you've been at a company for more than six months) for your boss to know a little bit about you, because it can help improve your communication. Request a meeting when your boss's schedule is slowest and let your boss know that you just wanted to introduce yourself and share gratitude for the position. That will hopefully open the door to some improved communication. Every boss wants to know that their employees feel grateful to be there.
You Don't Know WTF
Depending on how sensitive or intuitive you are, you might often think people are mad at you. Maybe you have a guilty conscience, maybe you're paranoid, maybe you're just perceptive, but it's not always about you. Sometimes your boss is just having a bad day. Maybe they were laughing hysterically with you five minutes ago and now you've asked them where the stapler is and they've bitten your head off. Chances are that if your boss's behavior seems very erratic and makes zero sense to you, it's not about you. So before you bother your boss with your insecurity, give them a few days to make the situation more clear to you. Things might go back to normal between the two of you in a day, or you might notice that your boss is treating everyone with the same shortness. Bite your tongue for a few days before you jump to conclusions.
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