My new boss always assumes the worst and his anxiety has me second guessing everything. Any ideas? A. H., New Jersey
It may not feel like it, but this situation is a golden opportunity to learn a critical skill. Your team is directly affected by how you’re feeling as well, so learning how to protect yourself from the anxiety of others has many benefits.
Emotions are contagious, and when your boss is anxious it’s only natural for you to mirror his anxiety. Anxious people often use very dramatic and extreme language when they talk. Anxiety and excitement create exactly the same physical sensation but the way we experience them depends on how we characterize them.
Words and thoughts create our emotions, so work on reframing what you hear from your boss and what you say to yourself. Your goal is to use neutral language to convey the same information. Instead of, “We’re going to be in big trouble if this project bombs,” try, “This project is important and needs our attention.” Both statements are based on the same idea but there is a big difference in how you perceive each one.
Make sure you reframe statements to your manager—it will help him have a more rounded perspective while giving you practice. Habitually reframing will keep control of your emotions in your hands.