The Scariest Words a Boss Can Say

Few people are as knee-deep in our work-related anxieties and sticky office politics as Alison Green, who has been fielding workplace questions for a decade now on her website Ask a Manager. In Direct Report, she spotlights themes from her inbox that help explain the modern workplace and how we could be navigating it better.

“Can you stop by my office?”

For a lot of people, hearing those words from their manager launches a tailspin of panic, as they try to figure out what they’ve done wrong or brace for bad news.

I regularly hear from readers who say they freak out when their bosses ask to meet and don’t explain why. Their minds instantly leap to assuming they must be “in trouble,” as if they’re being sent to the principal’s office. This account is pretty typical:

My CFO will instant message me to ask me to swing by. It’s always a work-related thing—asking me to look into something, can I assist with X, etc. But *every time* I see that “hi—can you swing by” pop up onto my screen, I get the instant (and fleeting) feeling of dread. Comes from being a goody-two-shoes in school and never getting in trouble.

Given that regular interaction between a manager and employee is designed to be a normal feature of work life, it’s surprising how many people freak out when a manager initiates a meeting without explicitly providing a reason. On the other hand, it becomes somewhat less surprising when you consider how many terrible managers are out there—managers who only ask to meet when something is wrong or who are so relentlessly negative that their employees have solid grounds for fearing any discussion.

Read the full article @ Slate

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