When managing social anxiety disorder at work

When managing social anxiety disorder at work, you first must recognise how it impacts your day-to-day and furthermore your career and other opportunities. Before seeking counselling Taking an Anxiety Test can help you understand how anxiety affects you and it is also a non-intrusive way to start.   

Let’s look at some of the situations you may run into and how you might cope.

Searching for work

Whether you’re new to the workforce, applying for work after extended periods of unemployment or looking for a new job the idea of going to a job interview for a lot of people is daunting. It should be somewhat comforting to those managing social anxiety disorder at work to learn that we’re all in the same boat and that there are coping strategies that help.  Preparation is critical, through my experience hiring people I have found that the best people on the day have also researched the company and the people interviewing them. By doing research, they can converse, ask questions and build rapport faster. Secondly, practice makes almost perfect. Get together with a close friend have them run a mock interview, it helps you to start thinking of responses and gets you more comfortable thinking on your feet.

Job Duties

It’s only natural to find some aspects for your role to be challenging if not boring. However, those managing social anxiety disorder at work can experience an amplification of these feelings. Therefore it’s important to consider what job you choose and how you decide to build on your skills to overcome situations that can affect you. Using apps like Headspace can help you focus and develop strategies, while reading self-help books and taking Social Skills classes may also help you.

Coworkers

We spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our best friends, so it’s essential that we have strategies to build rapport and our relationships at work. Relationships are also an integral part of being successful in our careers. Building relationships with co-workers is a lot easier when you engage more regularly with them. This could include the break room, grabbing lunch together or even taking the time to greet people in the office. We have two ears, and one mouth so listen twice as much as you speak. This is a great reminder to ask more questions, and by doing so you will find that when you do you will learn more about other people and they will naturally start to warm to you.

Business Meetings

If you feel uncomfortable in meetings, start arriving 10 to 15 minutes early so that you can greet people as they arrive. This may be the opposite to what you do now. However, it will help you build rapport and become more comfortable in the space.

During meetings, remember that others also may feel uncomfortable about speaking up. It’s not uncommon for more than half the people in your meeting to also nervous about voicing their opinion or share some insights. Usually, people will be relieved if you are the first to speak and will admire you for doing so.

Finally, if you find your anxiety overwhelmingly uncomfortable during meetings, try examining the thoughts that you have while in a meeting. Self-talk can stop us in our tracks so if you find yourself drifting off with thoughts try replacing them with something like “I am working hard to do better in meetings so take this opportunity” or “I’m here to grow, just like everyone else so let’s make the most of it.” Lastly, Toastmasters offers a great environment where you can build your communication and presentation skills.

Speaking to Management

Speaking to your supervisor can be challenging if you’re managing social anxiety disorder at work. The thought of asking questions of clarifying information may cause you agony. Unfortunately, avoiding these situations with your supervisor or manager can have an adverse impact on your role and performance.

By communicating in a way that makes you feel more comfortable you can improve the interaction. For example, if writing an email or booking a meeting to have face to face in a private area will work for you then let your supervisor know that so they can also adjust and accommodate. Preparation is important. Some people find that a list of points that clearly outline an issue along with possible resolutions help with discussion and moving conversations away from problems.

Finally, gradually work up to asking harder questions. Make a list of things you need to talk to your supervisor about, and then start with the one that feels least anxiety-provoking, such as asking for clarification on some aspect of your work. From there, you can work your way up to harder topics, such as asking for a raise or a promotion.

Social Events

While every company is different, there are usually social functions that you will be required to attend yearly. Remember that if you’re managing social anxiety disorder at work preparation is crucial. At social events, you have the opportunity to get to know people on a personal level. Small talk can often focus around current news, so an easy way to prepare is by catching up before you attend the function.