Social anxiety (also known as social phobia) is a disorder that causes people to constantly be worried about what others think of them, and it also causes them issues when placed in social or public situations. There are a lot of symptoms related to social anxiety disorder.
As you could imagine, social anxiety can cause a lot of issues for the person that is dealing with it, and for those around them. In this article, we're going to explore why social anxiety can cause problems at work and how you can work through it.
Why is Social Anxiety an Issue at Work?
Work is one of the places where people with social anxiety or phobia struggle the most, because not only are they likely dealing with people, but they are also dealing with the stress of being evaluated, which is something that they are already deeply afraid of anyway. This double dose of stress can make it unusually difficult for those with social anxiety to hold a job.
The social end of the whole thing is often worse than the evaluation end, because many times the employee will know how to do their job and how to do it well. But sometimes, you will notice that the person struggling with social anxiety disorder may avoid social gatherings, try to get out of meetings, and do a number of other things in order to avoid being social. It can also cause problems with coworkers because of misperceptions about the person who is struggling with social anxiety. There are other problems that can come up as well, but these two are the most common ones that come up.
How Do I Deal with Social Anxiety at Work?
Millions of social anxiety sufferers have steady jobs and go in to work every single day. There are a number of coping skills that you can utilize if you're among them.
Communicate with trusted associates and bosses about the disorder. If you have people at work that you trust, including your bosses or managers, you should talk to them about the disorder and how it affects you. By doing this, you're giving people a bit of insight into why you may be avoiding situations or why you are acting a certain way about a certain meeting or topic that comes up. By being honest, the people around you will be more understanding and your chances for success become much higher.
Find times during the day to regroup. This is incredibly important. When on your lunch break, feel free to go off and be by yourself for awhile so that you can regroup and feel better. These times for regrouping could be enough to help you feel more secure and sociable throughout the day. It's also good for you to get alone time at work, even if you don't have social anxiety, because it can help to reduce your stress anyway.
Try to be sociable, even when it seems hard. Be nice to people! Some people with social anxiety will downright avoid social interactions at work. The problem with this is that it is often misinterpreted, and people believe that the social anxiety sufferer is "snotty" or that they have an attitude problem. By being sociable, your coworkers will be more likely to be understanding of the times where you feel like you want to be alone. It also makes you someone enjoyable to work with - even if you don't talk a lot, people will feel more comfortable if you're friendly to them. It may be a stretch for you, but even a brief conversation can help to break the ice and keep the workplace civil.
Get help. If you have social anxiety, you may feel like it's starting to overrun your life. There's good news - you aren't alone. There are millions of people throughout the world who suffer from social anxiety, and many of them live perfectly normal lives. But many of them do this with the help of a qualified therapist. If you think you may have social anxiety, or you've been diagnosed, seek out the help of a professional so that you can be more comfortable in the workplace and in other areas of your life. They can teach you coping skills and help you to feel more comfortable, wherever you may be. Seek one out that is in your area.
So, as you can see, you can deal with social anxiety while at work, it just takes a little help from those around you and from a therapist that can help you achieve your goals. Look for a therapist in your area today and get started on your path toward living a healthy, whole life, even with social anxiety.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2010). Anxiety Disorders in the Workplace | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.adaa.org/managing-stress-anxiety-in-workplace/anxiety-disorders-in-workplace
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National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder). Retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/social-phobia-social-anxiety-disorder/index.shtml