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It’s one thing to dislike your boss — on some level, most people probably do — but it’s quite another to actively fear them. If you go to work each day terrified you’ll have a run-in with your supervisor, you’ve got a real problem on your hands, and not just because it’s a terrible way to go through life. As acclaimed “career coach to milennials” Ashley Stahl writes in a recent post for the Daily Muse, living in fear of your boss keeps you from taking risks that might help you get ahead.

Luckily, Stahl has five tips on overcoming your fears. Scroll down to get some terrific advice that might just save your sanity — and your career.

1. See the Big Picture — You may think your boss goes home every night cursing you and your shoddy work, but guess what? He or shy has other stuff to worry about. As a matter of fact, they’ve got their own bosses to satisfy, and that’s what probably keeps them up at night.

2. Get to the Root of Your Fears — Chances are, the terror you feel whenever your boss walks by isn’t about anything that happened at work. If you’re afraid of, say, getting fired, it might have something to do with that time your father got laid off when you were a kid. How do you figure this out? Stahl suggests putting pen to paper. “Make a list of your fears and what they might be telling you,” she writes. “Give them a voice. You’ll likely learn a lot—and maybe even find that they aren’t so scary after all.”

3. Realize Your Boss Is Only Human — If your boss chews you out for something, it might be a result of your performance, but it’s more likely a reflection of some personal issue going on in his or her life. Consider how he or she acts around other employees. Is there a pattern of behavior? If not, and he or she really is out to get you, take the bold step of scheduling a meeting and asking how you can be a better employee. It’ll be scary, but in the long run, it’s for the best.

4. Make Yourself Indispensable — If you’re irreplaceable, by definition, you can’t be replaced. How do you reach that point? As Stahl explains, it’s not by staying late and working weekends. You’ve got to go a step further and learn to anticipate future challenges and be ready to pitch in. “Great employees pay attention to their boss’ priorities and pain points, and they constantly offer to take on side projects — projects that the boss may not have initially thought about — to improve a process or ease the workload,” Stahl writes.

5. Separate Your Personal and Professional Selves — It’s natural to want everyone to like you, but think about it: Who you are on the job isn’t necessarily who you are in real life. Establish a distinction, and that might make it easier for you to “departmentalize your fears,” as Stahl writes.


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