The Anxious Employee

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My head spins each time I walk out of my boss’ office. It is hard to get him to speak more than one sentence. Be it a presentation. A feedback session. Or just generally anything. He barely communicates.

My boss goes out of his way to strike up a conversation on only two occasions. When I am doing exceptionally well. Or when I have done something wrong. There is no in-between.

But the in-between is what kills me. That is where I need the most assurance and encouragement.

Last Tuesday, I had a terrible migraine. Yet, I showed up at work to take care of routine logistical matters for my boss. No acknowledgment. No gratitude.

In my seven-year-long career, many such show-ups have yet to be acknowledged. I try to understand what bothers my boss. Is it wrong to expect him to do the same? I wish he saw value in trying to understand who I was and what I was dealing with.

A lot could change if my boss checked in with me more often. I wouldn’t have to exhaust myself reading his gestures. When he looks at me during his quiet walks past my desk, I wonder if it is in appreciation or disdain. When he sends a one-line email, I spend hours deciphering its meaning. Am I meeting his standards? Am I doing something wrong? Is he keeping tabs on me?

It is not just me. In a moment of weakness, the generally tight-lipped Star Associate told me she used to rush to the bathroom to cry when she received one-line emails without context from the boss. So, I am not exaggerating.

“One must be precise” is what my boss keeps saying.

Precision is good, but at what cost? I wish we could go beyond talking facts and make space for emotions in day-to-day interaction. I want my boss to express more. Appreciate me more often. Acknowledge my efforts more regularly.

I would then not have to spend insane hours deciphering my self-worth at work.


Food for thought: Do you think it is important to talk about emotions in the workplace?

This post is authored by Tom H. If you would like to get in touch with Tom, please drop an email at

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