September 8, 2022

This is why you panic when you boss asks you for a ‘quick chat’

Not just me?

I’m glad to hear it. Well, I’m not because that sucks for you, but I’m glad because it affirms that I’m not alone. Smalls wins.

You’ve just left the office for the day, you’re wandering over to the tube, mindlessly scrolling through work emails because for some annoying reason your body just does that without asking and then you see an email pop up. From your boss. Subject: Tomorrow. You open it. ‘Can you put some time in tomorrow, need to catch up on something’


Stomach flips.

Palms sweating.

Heart starts beating weirdly fast.

You start replying ‘I’ll call you this evening and we can chat about it’ and then you realise that’s weird so you stop but you equally can’t cope with the idea of having to wait until tomorrow until you’re no doubt fired, or told you’ve done a terrible job, or told that everyone has finally realised that you have no idea what you’re doing. VOM-IT. Breathe. Breathe. You play it cool and write ‘Of course, first thing good?’ and put your phone down, try and ignore it, but the panic is still kind of there. Even through dinner, you’re refreshing your emails in case something else comes through. Internally playing through the potential outcomes of the meeting. What you’ll say when he/she confronts you about how awful you are. What you’ll write in your ‘leaving’ email. Then tomorrow comes. Your boss is late. WHERE IS HE/SHE?! This is so stressful, You need to know what’s going on. He/She saunters in at 10am after a breakfast meeting and you saunter over:

‘Hi, did you err want to have that meeting you mentioned?’

‘Ohhhh, sorry, totally forgot about that. All good — I just wanted to ask you about that meeting you had last week but then I saw you’d sent a meeting report and I missed it’.


Sound familiar? The relief comes but then there is this little voice that’s like… damn you, why did you panic so much?! Why are you so uncool?!

Well… I’ll tell you this.. my guess (and it’s a guess, so take it or leave it), is that you panicked, because 1) you have a belief system that says ‘I’m not good enough/I’m a fraud’ 2) this belief system came from childhood and was likely exacerbated at school where you were probs big time told off for something which made you feel like you really were useless 3) the boss/employee dynamic is probs reminding you (sub-consciously) of the teacher/student dynamic so you’ve fallen into child ego state and are perpetually looking for approval from your boss like a kid does to a teacher. 4) Any indication of ‘non-approval’ (the email) takes you waaaay back to school and the terror of being told off and having to tell your parents you did something bad.

That’s probs why you panic. Maybe not, maybe I’m over simplifying it. Who knows. But whatever the reason, you’re definitely panicking not because of the email (it’s never about the email). You’re panicking because of the story you tell yourself about the email, which probably comes from some historical event that this email is sub-consciously reminding you of .

Dammit. Although, it’s free-ing to start to recognise that we reactNOT to what’s in front of us in the present, but, most of the time, to some historical event that’s replaying sub-consciously in our minds.

At least then we berate ourselves less for feeling so intensely.

Who knows, just a thought.

L x

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