watch me while I workHSPs generally perform poorly when being watched, and yeah, I can totally confirm this.

One of my old bosses would sometimes stand right over me and watch me while I did things on the computer. It was so insufferable that I called him out on it. I probably said something sarcastic like, “Are you really going to stand on top of me while I do this?” Or, “I can’t do this if you are going to stand there and watch me.” Fortunately, we had a pretty relaxed relationship so this didn’t offend him. I think he found it amusing that it bothered me.

When someone like a manager or boss is watching me do something, I completely freeze up. I cannot perform. And how can I explain this, when it happens? I appear incompetent when I freeze up like that. I look like I can’t do the work, just because I’m nervous about being stared at.

At another job, I worked in one room with two other people. It was an office meant for one person, but they stuffed three of us in there. We all had our own desks. One day, we had to all move to a different office, so the 3 of us had to figure out where to put our individual desks within that room. The other 2 people wanted to face the window, whereas my only suggestion was that I didn’t want my desk facing a direction where someone else would be facing me all day. That would have made me go nuts.

My officemates were, understandably, happy that they got the window view without argument, and I got to face the wall like a crazy person.

A few months later, I expressed to my boss that I would rather work in a cubicle. No one could believe that I would give up being in an office (AHEM, shared with 2 other people!) to have my own private cube. In a cube, I felt that I would at least have the privacy of knowing no one was looking at me. Just that tiny little bit of privacy seemed so appealing. I felt like I could make it through the day more easily and be less distracted that way. And you know what? They were nice enough to move me to a cubicle!

So, my point–if there is one–is that if you are unhappy in your work environment, you should 1) speak up about what you want to HR. There are rules and laws and stuff that mean they usually have to listen to you, and 2) you are going to have to grow a tougher skin because your co-workers and managers might not “get” why you need what you need.

But if you are able to finagle a better working environment for yourself, that’s all that matters in the long run. The embarrassment of having to ask for it will wear off.