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  • Writer's pictureZoe Spooner

How to Stand up to Your Boss When You Have Anxiety

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Anxiety can make us feel uncomfortable in our own skin, we may feel uneasy around authoritative figures and find it hard to stand our ground.

If in the office you find your boss particularly domineering, perhaps you seem them as a stereotypical “alpha male” or “hard-nosed bitch” this can potentially trigger you into further anxiety making it harder to ask for what you need.

When you don’t ask for what you need at work, you can become resentful. You may start to neglect certain projects, get weighed down by responsibilities and start to think your only option is to move teams or even leave.

Perhaps you have noticed a pattern within yourself of avoidance of people in power or maybe you feel your job is important to you and you don’t want to let one relationship stand in the way.

Although other people may see them as a nightmare you also might notice they don’t seem to have quite the same challenges as you.

You may think this is because your boss is out to get you, or maybe because you are in a unique situation. Either way, you realise that something needs to shift and are trying to work what to do to get yourself out of this situation.

To stand up to your boss you firstly need to be super clear on what it is you want. Often when we feel intimated our anxiety can make our brains go a little haywire and we can become a little confused as to what it is we actually need.

If we can get super clear on what we want and need, we can then work on approaching our manager from a calm state. A state that says, “I can handle this and this is where I need your support.”

It is a much more empowering space to be in when we calmly make requests rather than explode with our demands and frustrations or alternatively run away and becoming a “yes man”.

In order for us to get clear on our own wants and needs, we may need to take some time for ourselves to think. This may be as simple as taking a notepad and pen to a coffee shop getting clear on what the work entails, what your boss wants and what you need to get it done.

At times it may feel a little more complex, perhaps you aren’t sure of what you need any more and feel responsible to do everything. This might mean you need to start from scratch, chunk the piece of work down and look at each part and note which part is bringing up stress for you and what you would like in an ideal world to support you. Once you have completed this you can go back over it and review what would be a realistic request and if you are asking out of anxiety or general need. It may be you need reassurance, not actual advice.

When you are a little clearer on what you need you can think about what state on mind you would like to be in when you approach your manager when you push back on certain responsibilities.

You can go a step further here and think about how they may respond if they respond in anger how would you like to reply. If they decline what else could you do? You might like to role play it out with a colleague or close friend.

The key to standing up to your boss is to try to step out of your anxiety and into how your ideal self would approach the situation. The more you do this, the easier it will become.

We can not change how others treat us, we can only control how we show up to our environment. In some cases just by changing how we approach someone can change how they treat us.

With that in mind: Get clear on your needs, calm your nervous system and be brave!

If you are finding it particularly challenging asking for what you need or want from your boss and want to enquire about support get in touch at:

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