Not everyone is confident enough to speak in meetings and present their thoughts. Sometimes a person could be full of ideas, but their social anxiety wouldn't let them speak. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a real thing. You won't realize the limitations it brings you until you are in a professional environment asked to speak up and lead a meeting or present your ideas. People who are introverts or have issues like stage fright most probably develop social anxiety at work.
Even though social anxiety in the workplace is not bad, it can cause you to mess up a few things at work here and there. You could be leading a meeting and make a mistake because of anxiety, and while it is human to make an error, some workplaces are too rigid, or sometimes too much is at stake.
If you are already suffering from social anxiety at work, a simple mistake can generate the anxiety of going back to work in you. You could be fretting over the next working day under your sheets, and no one would know. Gladly, there are various solutions for people working with social anxiety.
What is Social Anxiety at Work?
Social anxiety disorder is a fear of constant judgment resulting from thoughts of not doing well enough. Social anxiety disorder causes a person to underestimate themselves and imagine worst case scenarios. In work-related scenarios, social anxiety can damage the performance and productivity of employees and interfere with their efficiency. Various studies study the relation of social anxiety at work to reduced efficiency at the workplace.
One such study states that almost 7% of the adults in the US suffer from social anxiety and more women are prone to social anxiety than men. While social anxiety at work could result from inner issues or the external environment, it only happens when a person doesn't feel safe or comfortable in a workplace.
What Are Causes of Social Anxiety at Work?
People tend to confuse being shy as social anxiety disorder, and these two things couldn't be further apart. Shyness is something that a person can work on by being subjected to the situation, social anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is a medical condition. If you see someone being extremely avoidant of a social gathering or having severe anxiety symptoms just hearing about the meeting, they might have a social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Social Anxiety at Work
- Panic attacks at the thought of social confrontation
- Calling in sick to avoid social meeting
- Uncontrolled fear
- Extreme sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Fear of messing up
There could be various causes of social anxiety at work, and most of the time, it is genetic. People who have a parent with social anxiety have 40% higher chances of developing social anxiety. In cases when it is genetically induced, it becomes harder to overcome SAD.
On the contrary, sometimes a tough workplace can also induce social anxiety, or a boss who doesn't tolerate the slightest of mistakes could be why an employee remains on their toes. Social anxiety could also be due to job threat or excessive workload, which compromises the human ability to think rationally.
How to Overcome Social Anxiety at Work?
People with social anxiety at work have many triggers. And to avoid those triggers altogether is not something possible, especially when you are at work. You could be sweating up and down with just a simple thought of discussing progress with your boss, or asking a little advice from your colleague could act as a trigger too.
Role of Boss
Rather than treating your employees like robots who are liable to generate reports on time, employers need to understand that each employee is different. Some may be prone to social anxiety at work. The role of the boss to reduce social anxiety or even help employee’s combat stress at work is huge.
Bosses should have a proper communication channel to ensure each employee feels safe to express their concern. If they find an employee suffering from the mental pressure of work, it is wise to allow them to have a little break or use the hybrid workforce model to work remotely for the time being.
Get Hold of Your Stress
Stress is a tough thing to tackle, and for someone prone to anxiety on the tiniest of things, dealing with a stressful situation could be a nightmare. But when you are at the workplace, you cannot lose at the hands of stress, but the wise way is to deal with it. Try to release all the tension in your body with simple exercises with your standing desk or even a few minutes of meditation at the work desk.
Get Support from a Co-worker
No one better understands your work stress than a co-worker who puts up through the same thing for 8 hours a day. Even though the social anxiety triggers might be different, it is always wise to confide in your work friend or even colleagues.
To help you with social anxiety at work, you can ask a coworker to train you for a meeting or help you prepare the slides.
One thing that causes people's emotions with anxiety to worsen is when they try to push it back. This only results in the peaking of emotions and ruins the situation even more. Even if you have a social anxiety disorder, you don't have to be ashamed about it. It is a common disorder that anyone could experience. Accepting your social anxiety at work is the first key to treatment.
Focus On Work
Social anxiety at work leads you to believe the worst and underestimate yourself. Your performance could be top-notch, and you could still think it is not good enough. In such cases, it is important to separate your feelings from your performance and think rationally.
For a person with social anxiety at work, thinking about interacting with colleagues could be challenging. The truth is that teamwork and team building activities are among the most effective ways to deal with stress at work. Employees and even higher management should focus on building effective teams for the work process to go smoother and ensure that no employee is stressed beyond their capability.
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