I am irrationally frightened of my thesis advisor. I say ‘irrationally,’ because he is in truth actually a very nice guy and my interactions with him almost always go well. But he has this way of putting the fear of God into me.
Maybe its just how unperturbable he seems. He is the only person I know who is capable of betraying none of his emotional state unless he specifically means to do so. As a result, I will be there in his office, explaining something, and he will just gaze back at me with this static smile, silently judging, while I become increasing convinced that I must have done something wrong. I found it incredibly off-putting for the first year or so that I worked for him, but after a while, I came to understand that his lack of reaction did not necessarily connote disapproval.
Even so, I feel that this fear has made things much more difficult then they need to be. I find myself having to steel my nerves just in order to go to him to ask for a clarification. As a result, I have probably wasted time on stuff that could be resolved much more easily.
On the other hand, though, this fear has one major advantage: it can cause my brain to suddenly kick into overdrive and solve a problem on its own just so that I don’t need to go to him with it.