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How can I tell my boss how stressed I am without it sounding like I'm incapable of doing my job?

21 Answers
Last Updated: 02/15/2021 at 4:02pm
How can I tell my boss how stressed I am without it sounding like I'm incapable of doing my job?
1 Tip to Feel Better
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Anna Pavia, psicologa psicoterapeuta psychotherapist psychologist counselor

Licensed Professional Counselor

I feel my work as my personal mission and I love it. My work with clients is nonjudgmental, supportive. I am a very good listener. I use several approaches. Amo il mio lavoro.

Top Rated Answers
December 19th, 2014 11:34pm
I have faced this myself and I dealt with it by putting it into a positive frame of reference. Rather than approaching it from the perspective of "I can't cope with this workload!", I framed it as the following and sent via an email so I didn't trip over my words, "At the moment, I am getting a lot of ad hoc jobs coming through that are affecting my ability to give my absolute best with my regular tasks. Can I defer my regular tasks until next week to allow me to get these ad hoc jobs out of the way?" By approaching it in this manner, I was projecting a constructive attitude, which was received by my manager in a positive manner. The objective of the exercise for me was to express how great my work stress was while coming across as positive and constructive.
November 10th, 2015 8:32pm
You can tell your boss that you need some time off. Take a couple of weeks of vacation or FMLA, and use the time to assess what is occurring with your job, and if you need to speak to your boss, adjust your attitude, or quit. Does that sound reasonable?
December 20th, 2014 4:08am
Reach out, especially if you feel your boss or colleagues are supportive and understanding. Chances are you're not the only one. It can help to paint support as a team need and to offer ideas of how your team can work together to overcome this. It depends too on why you are stressed. In our work site, we have a lot of people stress, so having potlucks and fun gatherings helps a lot. In a site like production work, productivity or safety may be the reasons for stress. Still, helping your employer to help you actually could be a way of helping the team and painting how you can contribute to the company at a higher level in the event that you are hoping to be promoted in the long term as well.
December 20th, 2014 9:15am
Remember, your boss is not necessarily your friend. It may be best to focus on feelings as opposed to behaviors. Stress is a feeling. Instead, focus on the source of the stress. Play the game by telling your boss what they want to hear while still communicating your difficulty. For example, "I really want to a good job here, but I'm having a hard time managing the workload. I can see it's going to be a problem soon, so I just wondered if you have any strategies for helping me manage this." That way, you are letting your boss know, and at the same time, you're stepping up, taking responsibility, being proactive AND stroking their ego by asking for advice--all things bosses love. That will be much more effective in getting your bosses' support than simply saying, "I'm super stressed out. This is unfair and I can't do it anymore." There is a time and a place to state your feelings, especially if you feel something is really unfair, but pick those battles very carefully, because if you lose, it could mean you need to find another job. Good luck.
April 3rd, 2017 2:18am
If you are stressed because a lot of work is in your hands, it is better to tell your boss that you are able to do a better quality job when there is not as much load as there is and that quality over quantity is what you strive to achieve
December 28th, 2014 10:08pm
It is important that you mention that you find certain aspects of the job to be too much. When I was promoted to assistant manager, I found that it was too stressful for me and so I told them I wanted to simply go back to my original job. They allowed this without thinking any less of me. You will not sound incapable, just ensure that you mention particular things that you find to be too much and see what they can do. Maybe they will offer you a few tips on how to go about certain tasks, which you will find more useful. Better that you talk to them though.
July 21st, 2015 6:09pm
I am fortunate enough that I have a very good relationship with my boss and can just have the conversation. For those that don't have that kind of relationship, I suggest going in with a game plan. Maybe make a list of the reasons why you are stressed, that way you don't forget anything when sitting down with your boss. Also, come up with a plan to manage or reduce that stress. This way, if the boss asks about it, you are prepared. Hopefully, they will respond favorably if you show that you have tried stradegies instead of just "complianing". Also, if the stress is related to another person slacking off, you might want to address it with them before going over their head.
- Expert in Work Stress
December 20th, 2014 3:46am
I've never really had a boss that I can tell that I'm stressed, except for one. A good way to word it is that you can ask if they have input on how you can manage your time better with the tasks they're given, because you DON'T want to overwhelm yourself. Even if you are overwhelmed, it looks like you're so invested that you're seeking advice on how you can improve to meet organisational goals.
December 20th, 2014 5:43am
Tell him/her that you would love to move further in your job but it's hard to do so when you are stressed from said job. Remember confidence and honesty is always the best, and don't forget to be assertive! :)
March 18th, 2015 12:52pm
Let your boss know that you are feeling a little under pressure, and ask them for advice, that way you are not complaining but asking for assistance
November 8th, 2016 8:58pm
It's important to bring this up with your boss - sometimes the stresses at your job actually come from within (aka pressure you are putting on yourself!) but other times they come from external sources, like your boss or co-workers. There are stresses that you are going to have to learn how to live with and deal with, but job related stress coming from external forces can be tamed by directly talking to the people causing it for you! Everyone deals with stress in one way or another. Don't feel ashamed to bring this up to your boss!
August 6th, 2018 2:45pm
Try to frame the discussion in a way that focuses on the work, not how you feel. Assume that you have a hard limit of X amount of time to do that work. Make a priority list of the things that will and will not get accomplished during the next month based on your time limit. Then this simply becomes a discussion about priorities. You give them the chance to choose what work does not get completed based on your capacity. Your boss is probably already worried about you becoming burned out and leaving. That's not good for anyone.
December 20th, 2014 2:14am
Approach him/her privately and explain your situation. Let them know it wont impact your position but you felt like they should know whats going on
January 3rd, 2015 9:00pm
Part of doing a good job is self-care. Jobs that are done well are done by people that actually care about their job. Putting this much energy into a career takes energy out of you, you are not indifferent to the future of the company or the people that work in it so this takes emotional “buy in” and that can eventually take a toll. Now if your supervisors like the job you’re doing they should know not to work you into the ground, Quality work sometimes needs quality relaxation and time away to recharge. Tell them that you’re exhausted and you want to be in peak condition in order to give your Job the attention it deserves. It’s in their best interests as well.
December 20th, 2014 12:39am
It's all about the tone in your voice, your gesture and how you bring it within communication. Just tell him you are feeling stressed lately and you wanted him to know, tell him you are still working hard and motivated, but yet you want him to know. Hopefully he will respect that fact. That's what a real boss should do.
January 8th, 2015 1:12am
Sometimes talking to the boss about your stress could make it where if you was less stress you could do better quality at the job. Just because you are stress doesn't always mean you are busy.
April 18th, 2016 4:46pm
Be upfront and honest. Talk about how you are trying to go about the work and explain what exactly you are having a hard time with. Most bosses like honesty and are happy to help if asked.
May 2nd, 2016 4:28am
Try to have a sit down with them in the manager's office and explain how you're feeling. Explain that sometimes you feel overwhelmed
January 30th, 2018 9:20am
I'm sorry your dealing with a lot of stress. From my experience, just being open about any issues is a pretty direct and efficient way to go about it to the boss. I've informed my manager a few times that I was dealing with a lot of personal problems, and he understood where I was coming from, even had a story to tell ontop of it. I was given what I requested, fewer hours to have more time to cope with personal issues. You never know, it can turn out better than you'd expect.
May 29th, 2018 6:35pm
Tell him that you need an emotional break. That it stresses you out a bit to keep up, but you can do it.
February 15th, 2021 4:02pm
If you are feeling like work is becoming too stressful for you and effective in your mental health, you should try speak too either a supervisor or management team. They should not assume that you are incapable of doing your job role or make you feel like this. They should give you some advice or support in help reducing the level of stress in your workplace. Also could help by reducing the level of pressure causing you stress. It’s ok for work feel stressful at times and you shouldn’t feel like you are unable to get support from management in fear of your capabilities to do the job.