Social anxiety at work is more prevalent than what you and I may think. A Statistics Canada research reported prevalence rate of Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) to be between 8% and 13%. This means that for every 100 employees working in a company, 8 to 13 employees may suffer from social anxiety at some point in their lives.
Social anxiety often makes it difficult to do everyday activities like going to work or meeting new people. For many people, social anxiety can make it difficult to hold down a job or advance in their career. However, there are ways to overcome social anxiety at work and improve performance.
Social anxiety at work can take many different forms. It might mean feeling anxious and uncomfortable in social situations with co-workers, or feeling like you can’t speak up in meetings. It might mean feeling self-conscious and embarrassed about your job performance, or worrying that people are talking about you behind your back.
No matter what specific form social anxiety at work takes, it can be extremely debilitating and interfere with your ability to do your job effectively. If you’re struggling with social anxiety at work, there are steps you can take to manage it and improve your situation.
What is social anxiety?
Social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated by others in social or performance situations.
Well, unless you’ve suffered from panic attacks and social anxiety disorders, which is what I was diagnosed as having, it’s hard to explain it. But you go on stage knowing you’re actually physically going to die. You will keel over and die.Donny Osmond, Singer and Actor
People with social anxiety disorder often have a hard time feeling comfortable in social situations. They may feel shy and have a hard time making conversation. They may also be worried about being judged or embarrassing themselves. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and nervousness.
What are the symptoms?
People with a social anxiety disorder may have a fear of public speaking, eating or writing in front of others, or using a public restroom.
- Some common symptoms of social anxiety disorder are:
- Feeling very anxious about being around other people
- Feeling self-conscious and embarrassed in social situations
- Having a hard time thinking of things to say when you’re around others
- Avoiding social situations as much as possible
- Feeling very anxious when you have to do something in front of other people
- Experiencing physical symptoms like a racing heart or nausea when you’re around others
How does social anxiety impact work?
Social anxiety can manifest itself in several ways, including the fear of public speaking, eating or drinking in front of others, or writing in front of others. Social anxiety can be extremely debilitating, and can significantly impact work performance.
People with social anxiety may feel overwhelmed in social situations and may feel like they are not good enough or that they are being judged. This can lead to them feeling anxious and uncomfortable, which can interfere with their ability to do their job.
People with SAD often dread networking opportunities at work. They may feel shy and uncomfortable around colleagues and worry that they will say or do something wrong. This can lead to missed opportunities and decreased productivity. In severe cases, SAD can even lead to job loss or career stagnation.
Steps to Managing Social Anxiety at Work
There are several things you can do to manage social anxiety at work. Here are a few key steps:
1. Identify your triggers.
One of the first things you need to do is identify what triggers your social anxiety. Common triggers include public speaking, meeting new people, and networking events. Once you know what your triggers are, you can start to develop strategies to deal with them.
2. Practice self-care.
When you’re feeling anxious, it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. When you’re feeling anxious, take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. Taking care of yourself will help you better manage your anxiety in difficult situations.
3. Talk to your boss.
If social anxiety is affecting your work performance, it’s important to talk to your boss about it. Let them know what symptoms you’re experiencing and how they’re impacting your ability to do your job. Hopefully, they’ll be understanding and willing to work with you to create a plan that will help you manage your social anxiety.
If your boss is unsupportive or doesn’t understand social anxiety, it may be time to find a new job. It’s important to have a supportive workplace.
“A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that’s unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push.” ― Ludwig WittgensteinTweet
7 Tips to overcome social anxiety at work
- 1. Seek treatment from a therapist or counsellor who can help you understand and manage your social anxiety.
- 2. Make a list of things that make you feel anxious in social situations and practice confronting them one at a time.
- 3. Join a support group or online forum for people with social anxiety.
- 4. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- 5. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can make symptoms of social anxiety worse.
- 6. Get plenty of exercise, which can help to improve your mood and boost your self-confidence.
- 7. Make a conscious effort to be more social, even if you feel anxious. Try attending social events or joining a club or team.
Social anxiety can be extremely debilitating and can prevent people from achieving their fullest potential. Companies need to do their bit to help employees overcome social anxiety at work.
First, it is important to create a supportive and understanding workplace culture. Employees should feel comfortable speaking up about their anxiety and receiving help.
Second, companies can provide training and resources for employees who struggle with social anxiety. This could include workshops or online courses on how to deal with anxiety in social situations.
Finally, companies can offer mental health support services to employees who need additional assistance.
If you are struggling with social anxiety, it is important to reach out for help. There are many resources available to you, including therapy and medication.
“Clients prone to social anxiety often shy away from the most valuable form of networking, which is asking friends or colleagues to introduce them to their connections (known as second degree connections). Those second degree connections are the source for the majority of job leads, and are thus an indispensable part of any job search. I remind clients who exhibit this reluctance (which often comes from the belief that they’re asking for a big favor) to put themselves in the position of imagining being asked by a friend or colleague to facilitate an introduction to one of their own connections. Invariably the client admits that they’d be willing to make the intro.” – Jim Weinstein, Career & Life Counselor at DC Life Counseling
There is also a lot of information and support available online. Talking to your employer about your anxiety can be a difficult but important step. Remember, you are not alone. Many people struggle with social anxiety, and there are ways to manage it.
Speak up and reach out for help.
Reference: Social Anxiety Disorder statistics from Statistics Canada