Question: "Although I participate in meetings, interact with coworkers and am friendly with clients and assertive in business situations, I have never been a very chatty person. Now I feel like this is causing my boss to lose confidence in me. She calls me the 'silent worker' and makes other comments during staff meetings that make me self-conscious. How can I improve her view of me?"
Answer: It could be that you are going against your boss's idea of the cultural environment in which you work. Corporate culture isn't always spelled out; sometimes you have to pick up clues from others' comments. However, your boss needs to understand that if her objective is to change someone's behavior, public criticism just won't do it. The moment a confrontation becomes public, the other person stops listening and starts building her defense.
I would continue to do your job well and be friendly without being familiar. The next time you hear this gossip, bring it up to your boss in private. Say something like: "I've now heard from a number of people that ... . It's important to me to be professional and do a good job, so if something is getting in the way, I'd really like to hear it directly. Then I can do something about it, and the whole department gains."
You have nothing to lose by doing this one on one. In a public forum, egos get into play and you could end up the victim.