A Psychologist Offers 2 Tips To Help You Overcome Social Anxiety At Work
Many people come to therapy wondering how to manage social anxiety at work. They ask questions like:
- “How can I stop feeling so nervous when interacting with colleagues?”
- “Why do I struggle to speak up in meetings?”
- “Why do I avoid networking events and other opportunities to advance my career?”
If these questions resonate with you, you likely feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to navigate your professional life. Social anxiety can hinder career progress as it can make it difficult to form and maintain professional relationships, speak up in meetings, and advocate for oneself.
However, it is important to remember that social anxiety is a common issue and there are many effective ways to manage it. Your success at work is partially determined by your ability to interact with your colleagues and form effective professional relationships. With the right strategies in place, you can learn to manage your social anxiety and achieve your career goals.
Here are two tips to help you deal with social anxiety at work.
#1. Understand that having social anxiety doesn’t mean you don’t need social interaction
A study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that the core need for human connection is present in people with social anxiety; they just struggle to meet it in certain circumstances and with certain people. Starting from that premise, we can eliminate harmful thought patterns regarding social anxiety.
Self-talk, or the inner dialogue we have with ourselves, can play a significant role in shaping our perceptions and actions. It is important for those struggling with social anxiety in the workplace to be mindful of negative self-talk that can perpetuate feelings of anxiety and insecurity.
For example, instead of telling yourself “I’ve never spoken up in a meeting before, so there’s no need to start now,” reframe your thought by saying “I have an idea that will make life easier for everyone on the team, so I deserve to be heard.”
This shift in thinking can help reduce anxiety and, with time and practice, increase confidence, leading to more positive interactions and better outcomes at work. Additionally, it is important to remind yourself that it is normal to feel anxious in certain situations, and to practice self-compassion.
#2. Use self-disclosure to dampen the effects of your social anxiety
A study published in Cognitive Therapy and Research found that people with social anxiety may come across as less likable to others in the first few seconds of meeting them. However, this study also found that these negative first impressions can be improved through self-disclosure, which is when a person shares personal information or feelings with others.
The results of this study may be of interest to those who struggle with social anxiety at work. If people with social anxiety are able to open up and share their feelings with their coworkers, they may be able to improve their likability at work.
The researchers found that although people with social anxiety disclose less about themselves during social interactions, when they did disclose, it was perceived positively by others. This suggests that people who are being held back by social anxiety at work may benefit from making a conscious effort to open up and share their feelings.
It is important to remember that social anxiety is a common issue and it can be especially challenging in professional settings. However, with a bit of work, it is possible to manage your social anxiety and improve your relationships with your colleagues. By being open and honest about the challenge you face, you can build trust and understanding with your coworkers and, ultimately, be more successful at work.
If your social anxiety is causing you significant distress, seeking help from a mental health professional can be beneficial.