Have you ever felt like an outcast in your workplace? Or being labeled as rude and disrespectful by superior and colleagues alike. You wished you could calmly explain that your social anxiety is the cause of your reserved attitude. But having social phobia, you just couldn’t get past the fear of being judged and discriminate upon.
As unfair as it seems, people with social anxiety are at a disadvantage when their career is concerned. With narrower options to choose from, ( jobs like sales and customer service are out of questions), people with social anxiety face high pressure in securing a stable job or building a successful career out of it.
If you’re struggling with social anxiety, it’s quite likely that your job does not require heavy human interaction. In an ideal world, just being excellent on your job and shying away from social interaction will help you progress in your career. But in reality, not learning to overcome social anxiety at work, could bring your career to a standstill.
About 7 years ago, I was employed as a design engineer where I spent most of my time dealing with electronics and codes. It was supposed to be a dream job for social anxiety. As I devote more attention to my job, I stop trying to connect with co-workers. Before I knew it, workplace became a miserable place to be.
If you’re getting comfortable not interacting with anyone in your work, do watch out for these subtle signs of social anxiety wrecking your career.
You know colleagues could talk about their favorite TV series or where they’re heading for the next vacation? Because of social anxiety, you may not choose to exclude yourself from any of such conversations. After a few feeble attempts to connect with you, your colleagues may prefer to leave you alone in your personal shell. It’s easy to brush it off and be nonchalant. But without the sense of belonging, you’ll feel like an outcast eventually.
Isn’t it natural and fair that you’re bound to get a raise or promotion when you’ve created the best apps or designed the best graphics consistently? Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case, especially for people with social anxiety. To be fair, your managers or employers may not be aware of the extent of your effort. But in some companies, being quiet and reserved does not put you in a favorable position for getting promoted.
The water cooler gossip where stories of how your manager is making an advance to his secretary? As improper or untrue as it may be, you’re never in the loop for any gossips. You’ll only get to know any major happenings in the office through the official memo or during the occasion itself. In the end, it’s not about the gossips, but the distrust itself that affects your job.
When you’re so uncomfortable with social interaction, you try to stay away from office politics. All you wanted is to mind your own business and hope others would mind theirs. But building up a wall with others can sometimes backfire. When you’re perceived as “different” from others, office politics could find its way to you just because you’re perceived as an easy target.
As uncomfortable is it can be, you need to manage your social anxiety at work if you do not want it to hamper your career progress. I’m not suggesting that you should transform into a social butterfly, but practice the basic courtesy that is required to maintain a harmonious working relationship.
It’s going to be tough considering the years our mind has been programmed to react in fear and anxiety to social interaction. I’ve brute force my way out of social anxiety the first time, but it could be easier if I’ve realized hypnotherapy could do the trick.
Anyway, here are a few tips to help you manage social anxiety more effectively at work.
As social anxiety rears its ugly head, you may be drawn into self-isolation and sometimes unintentionally ignore questions or conversations initiated by others. While you do not need to put on a fake chatty mode, polite respond can help in connecting with others. You may draw a boundary of what you wanted to reveal and talk in a work environment.
Sometimes asking questions can bridge the gap between people and make new friends at work. Genuine non-invasive questions that work or life-related like favorite past times, foods or children can reduce the awkwardness and anxiety. Of course, building rapport with colleagues take time, and it’s ok if you couldn’t do so with everyone.
You can be the most brilliant employee in the company but it is meaningless if no one is aware of your effort. When it comes to appropriate occasions, such as an interview for a promotion, you’ll need to highlight your accomplishment objectively. This must not be confused with bragging or boasting of your contributions, but merely showing that you are a contributing your part to the company.
When you’re used to being reserved, you may not be accustomed to friendly colleagues who are constantly trying to offer help or opinion. The rule of thumb is to always be thankful and grateful when you received help regardless of whether you needed it or not. A show of gratitude can build great allies in your workplace.
Great communication is what keeps a great team moving. If you’re content with keeping to your job and minding your own business, the very least you have to do is to communicate clearly on challenges, objectives or any issues that could affect the team as a whole. If anything, this could help you build a solid reputation as a reliable co-worker.
I know it’s easier said and done when you’re trying to hold a job and struggling with social anxiety at the same time. Having been an employee and a small business owner during my struggle with this disorder, I’ve seen the vast difference in my career when I tried to overcome social anxiety at work.
Have you struggled in a job because of social anxiety? Do share with the readers your ways of managing social anxiety at work.
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I am an engineer-turned-writer who once struggle with social anxiety. After overcoming problems inflicted by low self-esteem and the fear of interaction, I realize the need for taking a holistic approach in developing our mind. I'm sharing my experience, remedies, and techniques that interest me in my quest to be a better self.
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