In most cases, you can turn the situation around. This is my specialty, what I help people do.
There are two elements to work on. One is internal, your nervous system. The other is external, how you communicate with your boss.
The internal aspect is basically finding tools that allow you to gain more control over your nervous system - to disengage from the anxiety and calm yourself - when interacting with your boss.
The most effective tools are mind/body, so breathing, posture, soothing touch techniques. These are the things that help you regain control over your physiological threat response, so you’re not at the mercy of the other person.
The external aspect, communication, is equally important. Change the way you listen and talk to your boss. Using negotiation techniques, such as those taught by Chris Voss (former FBI hostage negotiator), you can get your boss to respect you more and get them to do what you want, i.e. be a better boss to you.
It’s not always possible to save your job. Sometimes, if you’ve reached a “breaking point,” you can’t recover from it and the only solution is to leave. The earlier you start using these techniques, the more effective they are.
Ultimately, no matter what, these techniques are worth learning because leaving one difficult boss doesn’t guarantee anything for your future. The only thing that matters is your ability to show up calm and confident, with skills to make other people feel understood and skills to get them to empathize with you.
They are doing it because they feel threatened, which makes them act in automatic and aggressive (or passive aggressive) ways.
This makes you feel threatened, which makes you act in automatic and aggressive (or passive aggressive) ways.
It's a downward spiral that needs to be interrupted by physiological safety.
The way to interrupt it is by working directly on your brain. There are techniques out there for training the nervous system to reduce its threat response.
Before an interaction with that person, or just right when you get into work, find a space to be alone.
Put your hands up like you're punching the sky, and take 10 deep breaths.
Then do some Havening (Google it). Bring your hands to opposite shoulders, and rub down your upper arms to your elbows. It creates a relaxation response and shifts the frequencies of your brain rhythms to a calm, sleep like state.
There are more complex techniques like this you can do to train your nervous system not to feel threatened by this person.
The goal is, when you interact with them, to have it be from a feeling of safety and confidence, which will allow them to feel safe and be a better, more collaborative version of themselves.
I have social anxiety. I begin my first job tomorrow but I'm super nervous and shaking. I can't stop thinking about it. And now I don't want to go. I'm going to feel so uncomfortable and I will be shaking. What can I do to not feel like that?
The best way to do thinking is to DO something that uses all of yourself.
Your whole mind and body.
If your anxiety gets real bad at work, go outside and run around the block while singing a song in your head.
I also recommend soothing self touch. Give yourself a hug and a fake makeout session.
Rub your arms and torso as if you were soothing a baby, while singing a song in your head.
Get the body to feel loved, and do something that uses your whole mind, and your emotions will change.
Anxiety is as much about uncomfortable physical sensations in the body (viscera) as it is about repetitive uncomfortable thoughts in the mind.
Find powerful mind-body tools and practice them diligently.
I recommend you look into Havening, a technique that involves soothing touch and mental stimulation. It's been researched as an effective anxiety treatment.
Diet and exercise also play a role. Complex problems require multifaceted solutions. Your life right now might have to be about working through the anxiety. You have to study, experiment, and evaluate different techniques as solutions for you.
What you learn along the way will make you a natural leader.
Dave Wolovsky, MS CAPP
Relationships Coach, answering the internet's questions about all kinds of relationships.