My personality is such that I always feel uncomfortable around management, even if I've not done anything wrong. I feel this way around any kind of authority figure, such as police officers even though I'm a fully law-abiding citizen.

This leads to uncomfortable situations at work. I've had managers that want to be my friend and chat with me. I try to play along, but in the back of my head, I can't help but think, "Why are you here, and what do you want?" I've had managers that are more stern and professional. In these cases, I feel tension about making a mistake in front of them.

Whatever the situation, I seem to feel uncomfortable around anyone labeled as my boss.

How can I improve myself to feel more at ease with my managers?

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    I don't think this can really be answered here. This is more of a personal social/psychological issue rather than a general workplace issue, as the OP eluded to 'I feel this way around any kind of authority figure'. – Mechaflash Oct 16 '12 at 15:04
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    @Steve - I do not think this is a bad question and it certianly affects quite a few people. But it is not a workplace specific problem and this SE is not the place to help you. I would suggest seeing a councilor. Check with your hr department. Many workplaces have counseling assistance. If you problem can be corrected with medication they can help direct you there too. Otherwise they are trained to help people make changes like you are wanting and will probably be your best place to start. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 16 '12 at 16:21
  • It's useful to have this question here, as people are speaking to the workplace-based part of the anxiety. Although that's probably not all there is to it, it is useful to have help here on that side of it. – blazerr Jan 27 '14 at 11:37
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a psychological issue that we are not qualified to address. – Jim G. Jan 27 '14 at 17:21

I was like this with my first boss. Some of this can be tied to lack of experience in the workplace. It also doesn't help if the manager in question is one who doesn't give feedback easily. So you really don't know what he thinks of you.

Now I don't know if you are new in the workplace or not. But if you are, I think you will find that this anxiety will reduce over time as you become more confident professionally. Remember, they are people too. Some are good people, some are not, just like all the rest of your co-workers.

Most bosses though want their employees to succeed and part of their job is to help you do so. So they aren't the enemy. A good boss is one of the best resources you can have for your career. Even a bad boss can end up giving you useful experience. (One of my worst bosses couldn't make a decsion to save his own life, so as a very junior person, I ended up making alot of his decisions, it helped me immensely when I was more senior to have had that experience.)

The main thing a boss wants is for the work to go well. If you do your job and do it well, then the boss will come to rely on you and you will feel less uncomfortable as you realize he sees you as an asset not as someone to fire. Sometimes at the beginning of your career, it is hard to feel confident becasue there is so much you don't know yet. It will get better as you advance from being junior to being more senior.

However, the way you phrase the question makes me think that there is a an underlying issue beyond lack of experience in the workplace. If all authority makes you anxious all the time and it makes the workplace very stressful on a daily basis, this might be something that needs to be addressed with a mental health professional. There are some good anti-anxiety drugs that can help you be better able to deal in the workplace. The truth is, you can avoid some things that make you anxious, but it is really hard to avoid having a boss unless you own your own company. So if you think this is affecting your ability to work well, then truly go seek some help.

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I would suggest getting outside help, perhaps a psychologist may be required, but in reality to help with your insecurities. I have a few dissabilities myself, so I speak out of experience here about having some form of insecurities.

Wish you the best of luck, this is going to be something you need to take care of yourself. I would not talk to management about this till its absolutely needed to.

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  • Yeah, I also feel that the OP is insecure close to "authority". He should probably treat that as a personal problem, it's not related to the workplace. – Spidey Jan 27 '14 at 19:58

If your issue dealt specifically with bosses and management...

Sometimes it's difficult to keep poised around persons who are your manager/boss/supervisor because they hold some power over you. They have the ability to destroy your reputation, tarnish your image, and they can even take your salary from you (Fire you). All scary stuff. But they only have the power to do this at that business.

You have to come to the realization that they are just people. Someone like you who has the task to manage other persons. They have a specific job, just like you do, and it just so happens to involve you and your performance.

Understand that they are not your idols and they don't truly have any power over you. You have the choice to stay or leave and you have the ability to find a new employer. Just have confidence in who you are and what you do. Learn to build your self-confidence through mastering your craft, and also learn to build your self-image (physical and reputable self-image). All of this will help contribute to you getting over this kind of fear.

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It sounds like you constantly have bosses/managers you don't respect, you don't find interesting person. To put it simple, you consciousness is whispering to you: "Hey, why should I listen that dumbass, I have no slightest idea why he is in charge of anything here, he is less clever than me".

It's not a problem, or, to be more precise, it is a problem when it happens every time at every workplace.

I know what I'm talking about, believe me, I used to have this very problem for years. Then I suddenly realized that if I'll continue that way things will go very bad to me and tried to find how can I resolve the issue.

As for me, it turned out that the answer is pretty simple. Just try to work with people who a) are smarter than you and b) at the same time, have very nice communication skills and (the most important) c) you love to ask them questions and get answers.

I'm an optimist and believe that you just haven't yet find Your Job.

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  • +1 to this. Bosses you don't respect are difficult to work with, it's hard to become liked by them, and so to get much out of those relationships. – blazerr Jan 27 '14 at 11:39

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