by Molly Creeden
Travelpix LTD/Getty ImagesThree out of four of you say the most anxiety-inducing part of your job is your boss. Sound familiar? Transfer out of the panic department and onto the fast track.
First, flip your mind-set Take your work to-do list, then multiply it by 1,000. That's what your boss has on her plate, so while you're reading into every interaction you two have, being encouraging to you isn't (let's be honest) her biggest priority. "A boss might be curt because she's dealing with a big-picture crisis that day or her babysitter canceled," says Sharon Salzberg, author of Real Happiness at Work. "It can be difficult to remember that bosses are humans, too." A key step in reducing anxiety: Turn off the critical radar. "If you're hyperfocused on your boss giving you a hard time, you're going to find evidence to support that and keep believing it," says Michael Heppell, author of Flip It, who has coached hundreds of employees at Fortune 500 companies. It's a waste of energy to guess why she's acting grumpy or clipped. The main thing to think about is your performance -- that's what you have control over.
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Now, read the signs clearly If you feel like your boss is throwing a lot of random things your way, it's not to torture you; it's a signal that she actually relies on you, Salzberg adds. She knows you're someone who won't let things fall through the cracks. And when assignments are accompanied by feedback, that's a positive, even when the report card isn't. Criticism doesn't necessarily mean you're toast. "It can show that your boss is invested in your success," Salzberg says. Take her schooling at face value. "It isn't always easy to hear a supervisor say, 'You need to sell the idea better in the proposal,'" Heppell says. "You internalize the you part and think, 'She doesn't like me.' Actually, she's trusting you to fix it."
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Promote your strengths One last way to tame job insecurity: Be yourself. When Boss Lady asks for your thoughts, don't just play back what you think she wants to hear -- it's important that you voice your own valid opinion. She's not looking for a yesser; she needs you to contribute ideas. Speak your mind and you show her she was right to hire you in the first place.