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Lately, I have been having anxiety issues over some personal things going on my life. With immigration being most important of all since I am living in Canada on a work visa.

And due to anxiety, I haven't been 100% attentive at work, my mind would wander off etc. I know I am pretty good at what I do but there have been few instances where I was supposed to do something but I didn't do it the way my manager wanted & he pointed those out to me too.

I have made an appointment with a therapist & hope to fix what's going on. I think I should talk to my manager and tell him what's going on & hopefully make sure he understands why I have been like that lately.

Is it a good idea? I don't want to sound like a liability.

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    I think you should talk to your therapist first and ask for advice on how to approach your manager. – paparazzo Nov 13 '16 at 21:55
  • It sounds like when your mind wanders you are a liability. Talk to your therapist and find out how you can fix it. – WorkerDrone Nov 14 '16 at 17:38
  • Yeah, that's why I know it's a problem. I want to be an asset not a liability. – user3777390 Nov 14 '16 at 18:15
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I am repeating myself: don't disclose anything about your personal life to your manager unless you can suggest to your manager action that they can take that leads to some kind of relief for you, such as allowing to take personal days off or sick days off or vacation days off or making adjustments around the office so that you are operating in a less stressful, more comfortable work environment.

If you have a talk with your manager to explain a dip in performance and there is literally nothing they can do about your situation, then you are in trouble. If there is nothing they can do for you, then the notion of getting rid of you and replacing you with someone who is healthier - that notion becomes more attractive with each passing day.

Be careful what you say and how you say it. Anything that you disclose to your manager and to HR can be used against you. You boss may be a nice person, but they and HR are not your best friend, they are not your therapist and their obligation is to look out for the company as a priority over looking out for you. If they can make the issue you bring to them go away by the simple expedient of making you go away and you describe the issue in a way that leads them to conclude that the only way to make the issue go away is to make you go away, then you are giving them some serious temptation to do just that.

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    Spot on, don't dig yourself a hole – Kilisi Nov 13 '16 at 21:38
  • Yet, seek for help where helps is possible but be ready to suggest the solutions, as pointed out. – Jonast92 Nov 15 '16 at 16:26
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You've got two intertwined questions:

  1. How do I handle my anxiety?
  2. How do I talk constructively with my manager about my anxiety?

First, tackle the anxiety CAUSES. Most of the time, Anxiety is trying to help you, by making you pay attention and take action. Go pursue the causes.

What do you need to pay attention to? What action do you need to take?

You said it's immigration issues. Maybe you:

  • find an attorney or a legal aid source,
  • talk with other expatriates from your country about what they're doing,
  • talk with your home country's consulate, or
  • research the topic on a specialty site.

Get clear on the root causes of your anxiety and take effective action, including asking for help and guidance.

Second, talk with your boss.


Here's how I'd want you to come to me with this, if I were your manager:

"Hey, boss. I'm noticing that my work is a little bit off from what I think it should be. Can we talk about it, what I'm doing about it, and how you can maybe help me?"

(I of course say yes. We meet.)

"Boss, thanks for this meeting. Here's what's up. I've been noticing that my work performance has slipped a couple of times due to some anxiety I'm feeling regarding my immigration status.

"I'm working on that now with an attorney, and I've started a small personal project to deal with this. I think it's helping. I'd be happy to keep you posted if you're interested.

"At the same time, I'm committed to always delivering excellent results. So I have some requests I want to make of you.

"First, would you be willing to come tell me any time you see my performance slipping? I don't want to be worrying that I'm making a mistake AND not seeing it. A second pair of eyes would be great.

"Second, are there any resources that the company is already paying for that I should be taking advantage of -- like an EAP (Employee Assistance Program)? I've read that these are very under-used. I don't want to fail to use every tool available to ensure I do excellent work. Do you know where I would find out more?

"Third, do you have any thoughts or suggestions for me in general about how I could do better work? If you don't have any right now, would you think about it and get back to me if any do come to mind? I'd sure appreciate it.


The keys are (1) to make it clear you're on top of this, taking action and taking responsibility, and (2) to have specific simple requests for your boss that are both easy and reasonable for them to do.

The result will be that the boss will probably be positively impressed, will feel more open to giving you candid feedback, and will be less inclined to make up stories to explain your performance problems.

(Some bosses are afraid to bring up their performance fears, so they just sit there and make up negative stories about you, and eventually talk themselves into firing you. Don't let that happen. Open up the lines of communication now. Make it safe and easy for your boss to talk with you about your performance.)

Does this help? Questions?

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    But as others have said, I would be digging myself a hole. I don't want that to happen either but I feel like this is the most diplomatic way to handle things. Even though all of this is hypothetical, have you ever experienced an employee like this before? – user3777390 Nov 13 '16 at 22:07
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    I like the general advice given but don't agree completely. 1) I would not offer to keep the boss posted on the "small personal project". Could become very intrusive. 2) Regarding asking boss to be asecond pair of eyes. This may actually be asking a lot of the boss, or cause friction, depending on how independent the OP is supposed to be in their job, and whether checking work by boss or co-workers is a normal part of the job. OP should try other methods first to reduce mistakes. I think a therapist is a good idea. – SeraM Nov 14 '16 at 16:33
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    @user3777390 Whether this is good advice or not really depends on your manager and your relationship with them. If I were your manager, this would be great advice. Since we don't know your manager, it's hard to say for sure whether this would be digging a hole or impressing them. Your therapist may be able to help you figure that out. – DCShannon Feb 15 '17 at 1:04
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It's best to handle your personal issues outside of and without involving work.

I can't really see anything positive about discussing mental issues or even admitting you have them with your superiors unless there is something concrete they can do to help your immigration, and even then you should keep it on a more professional level.

You need to tune out your problems at work and focus on your tasks. Don't use them as an excuse or allow them to interfere with your work.

  • Then how should I explain the instances where I was un-attentive? – user3777390 Nov 13 '16 at 21:26
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    Up to you, but I don't advise telling them you have mental problems and going into a whole barely believable convoluted hard done by story about immigration woes. Best to keep it short 'I had some personal issues I was dealing with, they're over, won't happen again.'. NOT, 'I have personal issues, they're ongoing, expect more of the same.' – Kilisi Nov 13 '16 at 21:31

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