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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    When Your Boss Seems Uncomfortable Around You

    At some point or another, many of us have faced a perplexing situation in our professional lives where it appears that our boss is uncomfortable around us. It can be a puzzling and even disconcerting experience, leading to doubt, insecurity, and a sense of unease in the workplace. The first step to resolving this issue is understanding the possible root causes. In this article, we will dive into five unseen reasons that might be contributing to your boss's discomfort around you, and offer practical solutions to help you navigate through this tricky workplace dynamic.

    1. Unintentional Dominance

    One of the reasons your boss might seem uncomfortable around you is a perception of unintentional dominance. This can occur when your actions, although well-intentioned, may be interpreted as overstepping boundaries or encroaching upon their authority. For example, you may be showing initiative by taking on extra responsibilities or offering unsolicited advice, but this could inadvertently create a perception of overreach. It's essential to remember that even though you're trying to demonstrate your skills and commitment, it's crucial to respect the hierarchical structures that exist in the workplace.

    To address this issue, ensure that your actions align with your designated role and responsibilities. Avoid offering unsolicited advice, especially in group settings, unless explicitly asked. Try to understand and respect the boundaries set by your boss. Communicate your intentions clearly when taking on additional tasks, explaining that your aim is to contribute to the team's success rather than challenge your boss's authority.

    2. Miscommunication

    Miscommunication can be another root cause of your boss's discomfort. In a fast-paced work environment, messages can be easily misconstrued, leading to misunderstandings and assumptions. This may result in your boss feeling uncomfortable, as they are unsure about your intentions or actions.

    To combat this, try to communicate more openly and explicitly with your boss. Ensure your intentions and ideas are conveyed clearly, and always confirm mutual understanding at the end of any discussions. Regular check-ins can also be helpful in maintaining clear communication channels and avoiding misunderstandings. Also, remember to be an active listener when your boss speaks. Show empathy and understanding, which will help foster trust and open dialogue.

    3. Unresolved Issues

    Unresolved issues, whether work-related or personal, can create an air of discomfort. Your boss might be finding it difficult to discuss certain matters with you, leading to them feeling uneasy around you. It could be due to a past mistake, conflict, or any other sensitive issue.

    To handle such situations, it's vital to create a safe space where open conversations can take place. Encourage your boss to discuss any unresolved issues. Show your willingness to address these matters and work towards a resolution. Express your thoughts calmly and objectively, focusing on problem-solving rather than blaming.

    4. Divergent Work Styles

    Differences in work style between you and your boss can also be a source of discomfort. You may prefer a more collaborative approach, while your boss might be more directive. Or perhaps your innovative thinking contrasts with their more conservative approach.

    The key here is to recognize and respect these differences, and then find ways to work harmoniously within this diversity. Try to understand your boss's work style and adapt your approach accordingly without compromising your values. Provide them with the kind of updates and progress reports they prefer. Show that you can work flexibly within their preferred framework.

    5. Personal Discomfort

    Your boss's discomfort could be due to personal reasons unrelated to you or your performance. They could be going through a tough time in their personal life, which could be affecting their demeanor at work.

    In these cases, it's essential to maintain a supportive and understanding stance. Give them space, respect their boundaries, and offer help if appropriate. Avoid jumping to conclusions or taking things personally.


    Workplace dynamics can be complex and confusing, especially when it comes to the delicate boss-employee relationship. But by understanding the root causes of your boss's discomfort, you can take steps to improve the situation and ensure a healthier, more comfortable work environment for both of you.


    1. "Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High" - Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler
    2. "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead" - Brene Brown
    3. "Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity" - Kim Scott

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