Social Anxiety is an often misconstrued illness that is actually more common than one might think. Individuals with social anxiety are often perceived as shy, unfriendly, quiet and/or unsociable. This could not be further than the truth; people suffering from social anxiety have an innate fear of being negatively judged by others. While different from generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety presents the same physical symptoms. The people suffering from this condition tend to avoid all social situations; they wrap themselves in their own little cocoon away from the world. While this strategy may seem to work, there will be circumstances where social interactions are unavoidable. At work nowadays, communication and team work are essential soft skills. People with social anxiety disorder will likely lack these skills, their coworkers are likely to perceive their lack of soft skills as unprofessional. However, these employees might be even more qualified than their coworkers; they just lack the necessary skills to show it. Learning how to overcome social anxiety can be difficult, but definitely not impossible.
Social Anxiety in the workplace
Avoiding outings and parties might work to assuage your current fear of dealing with people in your social life. However, in the workplace, employees are expected to mingle, converse and engage in day to day interactions. This is a nightmare for anyone afflicted with social anxiety. Other than the social obligations that are expected from us at work, some individuals might have anxiety with specific work-related activities. There are different stressors that affect each person differently. Anxiety is triggered by a number of different stressors; some may feel anxious during meetings, while others get their attacks when asked to speak publicly. Any anxiety is explained as an irrational fear. With social anxiety, this irrational fear is embodied in the shape of negative perceptions from others. With time and practice, you will begin to realize that what you fear, is totally unrealistic.
How to overcome social anxiety in business Meetings
Work meetings can be a daunting experience for anyone suffering from social anxiety. You are required to speak about your work, give feedback when asked and answer questions directed to you about the current work activities. Here are simple steps you can take to overcome social anxiety at meetings.
- Practice & Prepare
Every meeting has an agenda, so you probably know the general direction of where the meeting is headed. You should Prepare in advance and be ready to answer any questions you might be asked. You could also be instructed to showcase your work; your current progress, deadlines or the quality of it all. Practice makes perfect. In this instance, practicing for a meeting beforehand will give you the confidence to perform well in the meeting.
- Beat the anxiety
Arrive early to the meeting and greet the incomers. Small talk and conversation with coworkers will ease your anxiety and make you feel more comfortable before the meeting kicks off. Be among the first to speak; if a topic is open for discussion, speak early and speak confidently. Shying in the corner contemplating whether your input will be perceived negatively will only increase your anxiety. By speaking early, you have taken the first step into easing into a meeting.
How to overcome social anxiety with your boss.
Help! My boss scares me. Speaking with one’s employer can be scary for anyone, let alone someone with social anxiety. Sometimes an issue needs to be escalated to your manager. An issue that requires a direct face to face talk with your employer. This can cause your mind to go a mile a minute. On the other hand, getting called in to meet with the boss can run chills down your spine. A million questions go through your mind; am I being fired? Did he notice that time I came in late? Is my work somehow lacking?
When your mind runs circles around you and you start overthinking everything, the best thing to do is to take a minute to breathe and contemplate. There are hundreds of breathing exercises you can practice to calm yourself down before a meeting. Breathing exercises can help slow down your thinking and calm your anxiety. A well know breathing exercise is the 4 7 8 breathing technique; it’s a simple breathing pattern that can alleviate your anxiety.
- What’s the worst that could happen?
Talk to your boss with that attitude. If you haven’t done anything wrong, then the conversation is likely to be work related rather than discussing your performance.
- Prepare & predict
If you have something that needs to be discussed with the employer, prepare your questions beforehand. Try to predict his response and start thinking how you will deal with the employer’s reaction. Most of the time, the meeting will go smoothly and you’ll get what you came for. By time, the process gradually becomes easier; until you are finally able to converse with your employers on a day to day basis.
How to overcome social anxiety with coworkers
Coworkers; they’re all around you and unavoidable. Dealing with coworkers on a day to day basis can be rough for someone with social anxiety. Ice breakers, Small talk and meeting new coworkers are generally items that the individuals afflicted with anxiety can find difficult to cope with.
- Throw yourself in the mix
While it may seem hard at first, the best thing to do for your social anxiety is to just go through it. Research some interesting topics to talk about at the water cooler. Grab your lunch in communal work spaces or try to be in places where employees gather. Reiterating the importance of preparation and practice, with time and some hard work, you’ll be able to fit in easier.
- Ease into it
With social anxiety, avoid getting out of your comfort zone too quick. Start slow; one to one small talk with a coworker for starters. Next time, step it up and open a topic for discussion. Following that, try getting comfortable being and talking with a small group. Most fears that stem from social anxiety are unrealistic; remember that next time you’re mingling with multiple coworkers at a time.
How to overcome social anxiety in public speaking situations
Sometimes we get called out to speak in front of colleagues; whether it’s in a meeting, a conference or a presentation to the boss man. Before you break into a sweat, here’s how you can deal with such situations as a person who suffers from social anxiety.
- Go early
Get acquainted with the venue where you will publicly speak. Arrive to the meeting hall or auditorium early and get comfortable with your surroundings. Greet on comers and show confidence; this will help with pumping up your self confidence and speaking skills. Being comfortable with the venue is crucial; conference rooms can be terrifying. That’s why arriving early is of great importance
Preparation is key when it comes to public speaking. Plot it out, know the main points you want to talk about and get organized. Speaking publicly is scary for anyone. For people with social anxiety, it’s a herculean task. Being well prepared can help ease the anxiety. Stay confident, try to be positive and prepared and you’ll dazzle the crowd.
How to overcome social anxiety during business calls
To the outside world, making a phone call is a simple task that requires minimal effort. To the socially anxious population though, it’s a whole different story. A small task such as calling a supplier, confirming a meeting or even a call to a coworker can be quite awkward for people suffering from social anxiety. Due to the lack of body language, you feel less able to express yourself, your message is lost in translation and you end the call completely flabbergasted. While common, this can be a real nuisance when trying to get your work done. Here are a few tips to help you get through that phone call.
- Get over your misconceptions
Most of the time, you don’t know what the other person is think. With social anxiety, people tend to believe that they are being negatively judged by the other party. Try to get over the misconception that your being negatively perceived. It’s all mind over matter in this situation; by getting over your misconceptions, you will be able to speak confidently with fears of being negatively judged.
- Find your safe spot
Find a place where you’re physically comfortable. Being in a place you consider safe will help ease the anxiety. By time and with practice, you will be able to talk to people over the phone naturally from anywhere.
- Pen and paper
Pen and paper; sounds old school doesn’t it? There’s a reason why time and time again we revert back to the old methods. Writing down key points for a phone call can make the phone call go smoothly. With the information written right in front of you, you won’t forget to mention something you intended to. Also, those awkward silences near the end of the call can be avoided if you know exactly what you want to talk about.
- Make it Brief
Let’s face it, if it’s a business call, no one wants to talk for hours. Make your calls short and to the point; the smaller the duration of the call the less likely it is you will get nervous.
How to overcome social anxiety during social business obligations
Your boss invites the team out for dinner or the company is throwing a retreat for all employees; these are pretty much standard when we deal with the corporate world. It’s unavoidable, the whole company is going. This is the ultimate challenge you need to go through. These types of outings usually include large groups of people conversing at once. The idea of conversing or opening up topics for discussion in front of a large group of people can be terrifying for a socially anxious individual. Fear not, here is a walk through on how to navigate business parties or company dinners like a pro.
- Bring your A-Game
Work outings are a chance to show off your style. This is the opportunity to shy away from the formal dress code. Being well-dressed bestows self confidence on anyone. Get ready, show off your makeup and wardrobe skills and the confidence needed to converse with coworkers will come.
- Research talking points
Whether by googling it or writing up the most recent news trends, you should be ready to open talking points to effectively converse with the crowd. Having something to talk about is a plus when attending a social outing.
- Leave work at the door
People have been working all week; Monday till Friday all they do is think about work and nothing else. During a social gathering, the job is the last thing people want to talk about. Avoid being the guy who only talks about the job. Show them you can be a friend as well as a coworker.
How to overcome social anxiety while confronting someone
Confrontation is hard for everyone. Confrontations are sometimes necessary in the workplace. Conflicts arise somewhat frequently; in order to deescalate conflicts, early confrontation is the best method. For a person suffering from social anxiety to confront someone about anything, requires a huge amount of mental effort. Check out how you can overcome social anxiety when dealing with conflicts and confrontation in the workplace.
Identify the issue or topic you’re confronting someone about. Is it a work related error or a social issue? Before going up and confronting the other party, you should have a very clear image about your intentions and what you hope to gain out of said confrontation.
- Stay Calm
Stay calm; it’s not a fight. Odds are, any errors or harm done that affect your work were unintentional. A simple misunderstanding to clear up; be assertive, confident and calm. Using the right language and keywords will get you what you want.
- Keep an open mind
Human error is an everyday natural occurrence in the workplace. Are you sure that the issue you’re confronting someone about is just? Could the error somehow be from your end? Keep an open mind during confrontations, listen to the other party and make a shared decision.
Overcoming Social Anxiety in The Workplace
There’s no doubt that social anxiety is a disease that can hinder or interfere with your professional life. Adapting over time is your best option to overcome social anxiety along with your fears and misconceptions. Remember that all the ideas of being perceived negatively are mostly in your head; misconceptions that are probably cognitive errors more than anything else. If you find that you simply can’t cope with your anxiety during work hours, you can always pay a visit to the company psychiatrist, or even an outside one. Seeking help for social anxiety is important early on if it’s interfering too much in your job. If you’re unable to do your job or complete your tasks properly due to your socially anxious behavior, it might be time to pay the doc a visit. Nevertheless, don’t despair; it’s all about exposure, practice and adaptation. Long periods of exposure to the workplace will force you to adapt to the social paradigm that people expect from us as individuals. With practice and some effort, you can get over your anxiety and become the belle of the ball at work.