5 Ways to Manage Social Anxiety at the Workplace

Learn how to manage social anxiety that interferes with your daily functioning in the workplace or holds you back in your career.

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If you tend to have social anxiety or suffer from a full-fledged SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder), you can find yourself extremely overwhelmed at work. Necessary social interaction in the workplace can throw you off balance and leave you stressed, which can potentially directly affect your performance at what you do. It can also have a diverse impact on your relationships with your colleagues and can land you into trouble with your supervisors.

People who suffer from SAD that interferes with their work often report that they have trouble meeting deadlines and reporting to their supervisors and updating them on their work. They also tend to have particular trouble with dealing with difficult people or conflict situations at work. If you have these problems or face other issues due to social anxiety, you will need to do more than just being mindful or meditating. You must build a personal wellness plan to keep the symptoms under control, even when faced with severe stressors. There are some simple strategies you can follow to make a customized wellness plan to help you stay focused, positive, calm, and productive during your working hours.

1. Get to know your colleagues

Many people with SAD will agree that a majority of their social anxiety in the workplace comes from the fear of communicating with people they don’t know. The first step to feel confident in interactions is to know the names and designations of your colleagues. Make sure you try to take the first step in building relationships or respond positively when people approach you. There is no reason to be embarrassed to ask someone their name or responsibilities again if you forget. It is important to remember that people are not judging you; it is only your mind that is convincing you that they are.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you start a new job, no one expects you to be perfect at everything. People with social anxiety often have trouble at work because they are too afraid to ask others how things are done. Asking for help in the workplace is perfectly normal. In fact, it is recommended to start conversations and build relationships with those around you. Simply asking someone “Could you help me out with something?” will go a long way, and will not paint you in any negative light.

3. Avoid difficult and negative people

No matter how great the workplace culture is, you will always find some people who like to talk about others during breaks. This does not make them bad people; they may simply need to vent and share their feelings. However, if you experience social anxiety, it is best to avoid such people and situations. This is because their negative energy will affect you, and so will the responsibility of hearing something negative about someone else. The next time you meet the person who was being talked about, you may feel stressed for being part of a negative gossip triangle. If you encounter situations where someone is gossiping about someone else, it is best to excuse yourself politely.

The same goes for you talking about one person to another, since this may feel you anxious over the fact that someone else holds a negative secret opinion you have. It is best to either vent to friends outside of the workplace or to keep issues and resolve them between two parties, without involving a third.

4. Remain neutral whenever possible

People with social anxiety often tend to face trouble because the memory of their own language or attitude from a certain social situation keeps bothering them later. For example, you may say in a workplace interaction that you hate the break allowance. This will later make you feel anxious, wondering if someone else will find out. You might also find yourself fretting about whether you were too harsh with a junior, or too timid with a senior. The best way to overcome this is to eliminate extreme words from your work vocabulary. Instead of saying ‘love’ or ‘hate’, use ‘prefer’ and ‘dislike’. Similarly, instead of telling someone ‘I want you to do this’, say ‘I would like you to do this’.

5. Prepare for anxiety-triggering situations

Certain situations in the workplace can certainly make you more uncomfortable than others. For example, you may feel anxious for weeks because of an unavoidable presentation. In situations like these, there are two very important things to do.

One: Know that no one knows you’re anxious. Two: Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Unless you let people know you are anxious, they won’t now. Look confident, and people will believe you are confident. To do this, you must prepare ahead of the presentation or meeting. Familiarize yourself with the meeting room, practice in front of a mirror, arrive early, sleep well, etc. Also, be sure not to over prepare; there is nothing wrong with forgetting what you were going to say and going with the flow instead. Just know what you want to say and that you don’t have to stick to a script.

Social anxiety can be crippling in the workplace since it is the one place you cannot avoid. If you suffer from anxiety, know that it is entirely manageable. You can be a perfectly functioning individual even with a SAD diagnosis. Simple be more aware, know what you need, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help if need be.

Author Bio:

Nathan Bradshaw is a leading writer in the field of health, with writing experience spanning physical and mental health. Over the last ten years. He has particularly written about breakthroughs in the health industry, aiming to educate both providers and the public on both physical and mental health. He currently works as a senior writer in a well-reputed company which provides medical billing services, working on making providers and patients more informed about conveniences like EMR and Patient Portal to help streamline healthcare provision. 

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