If you suffer from social anxiety, you know how debilitating it can be, but you still have to live your life. People with social anxiety, in particular, have to learn how to manage their disorder when they’re at work. Otherwise, their careers may be stalled as a result.
Work can be tough if you have this type of anxiety disorder because you’re always being judged on your performance, having to communicate with people in positions of authority, and you may be asked to do things like speaking at meetings or giving presentations.
If you’re not at work, you can take short-term anxiety medications and deal with them in certain ways, but these coping mechanisms may not be ideal when you need to be on top of your game, so what can you do?
The following are some tips for dealing with social anxiety in the workplace.
If things like meetings make you feel particularly uncomfortable, it’s best to show up early. This lets you settle in, take time to make yourself a bit more comfortable, and then you can talk to people as they come in.
Some people with social anxiety might show up to meetings at the last minute to avoid conversations, but this can make you feel like you’re the center of attention and probably a bit frantic and unprepared, which is probably the last thing you want. It can also feel more isolating if you’re the last one to arrive.
Prepare For Supervisor Interactions
If you have social anxiety, one of the worst aspects of work can often be communicating with your boss or supervisor. While there’s not a lot that might remove that anxiety, you can prepare for these interactions.
If you know you have a one-on-one with your boss, you can start thinking about it ahead of time and prepare any questions or comments you might want to make. Knowing what you want to talk about can help you feel less scattered and more in control of the conversation.
The same goes for giving presentations or speeches at work. While you might not be able to calm all the anxiety you feel, you can ease it at least a bit by preparing as much as possible.
Ask People About Themselves
When you have social anxiety, it can feel like everyone is staring at you and critiquing you. Of course, this isn’t usually the reality, but a good way to get through situations that make you uncomfortable is to get your coworkers talking about themselves.
Ask them questions, and then let them talk while you listen.
In general, most people like to talk about themselves, and you will feel relieved of some of the pressure of feeling like the attention’s on you.
Finally, if you have to attend social functions related to work, don’t try and self-medicate with alcohol. People who have social anxiety often try to curb their symptoms by drinking, which can lead to actual embarrassment, not embarrassment related to your social anxiety.