Dealing With Social Anxiety in a Culture of Collaboration
In many modern offices, collaborative areas have replaced cubicles, and people are more likely to sit eye to eye at tables instead of spending all their time in solitary settings.
Supporters of this collaborative work culture say it increases employee engagement and saves money by encouraging people to pool their ideas in real time rather than waiting to bring them up at weekly meetings. While this is a fantastic approach in some situations, if you have social anxiety, a highly collaborative company culture can feel like a reoccurring nightmare among the likes of showing up to a lecture naked.
Fortunately, there are ways to thrive in a collaborative workplace without letting your anxiety get the better of you.
Be Open About Your Challenges
Generally, people think of workplace anxiety as a hazardous problem. However, in some cases, it can make people perform better. Seriously. No matter how you typically handle anxiety, it’s smart to be up front with your superiors about how your anxiety may make it harder to perform well.
Good leaders habitually create workplaces where employees are less likely to feel anxious due to social fears or other reasons. However, if your company is large or you’re just unlikely to speak up without being prodded, there’s a good chance your bosses may not even know you’re not coping well with the collaborative atmosphere.
Hopefully after having a detailed discussion with you, superiors will be able to give you options that make it possible to work in a way that suits your needs. That may mean you don’t always follow the lead of the majority of your teammates, but it could allow you to escape some of the fearfulness that may be preventing you from giving your best work.
Figure Out Healthy Ways to Unwind
Research has found about 30 percent of Millennials deal with workplace anxiety. Also, Millennials are more likely than people from other generations to be so bothered by the anxiety that they are absent from work.
When your nervousness starts to get overwhelming, tune into it and come up with therapeutic ways to calm your nerves. You might have a long talk with your bestie, work out your nerves at the gym or engross yourself in Mindy Kaling’s latest book. You may even find that avoiding social media helps to ease your anxiety. Comparing oneself to another social media may lead to despair. The faster you can get your social anxiety under control, the less chance it’ll have to rule over your life.
Practice Nerve-Wracking Scenarios Outside of Work
Many aspects of your workplace could cause your stress levels to rise. Maybe you hate when all attention turns to you during meetings or don’t like lunchtime because it means you to have to no choice but to socialize with people you don’t know well.
Regardless of the specific things that trigger you, try to recreate those scenarios outside your workplace, when you are in the company of people you trust, and do that activity as an anxiety management technique. Your friends can offer guidance about strategies that could make you more at ease. Plus, the more you practice among people you know well, the more likely you’ll feel comfortable at work, even among new team members.
Talk to A Professional About Your Social Anxiety
You may find a professional counselor is a worthy ally as you learn how to feel less anxious while at work. It’s especially smart to get this kind of assistance if you have ever felt so upset that you’ve contemplated self-harm or, even worse, suicide.
The suicide rate has increased by 60% in the past 45 years, particularly among the younger population. People who feel isolated and lack a strong social support may be more likely to take their own lives, and the same is true for individuals who feel hopeless about meaningful things such as their jobs or housing situations. If you feel like your anxiety is so overwhelming and your nerves are so badly frazzled that you feel like there’s no way out, it’s time to make an appointment with a mental health expert.
Keep in mind, there’s no need to wait until things get that severe before seeking this kind of help. Counselors can help you learn more about why certain settings are stressful for you, and potentially lead you towards being able to overcome your struggles when you’re at work and beyond.
Gradually Push Yourself
If you work for a company that prizes collaboration so much it’s unavoidable, get in the mindset that you’re going to start small and slowly start doing things that push you out of your comfort zone. This may mean being a more vocal contributor during company meetings or interacting more during group projects. Be sure to consciously remind yourself to keep taking baby steps towards your ongoing goal of being as engaged as possible.
Discuss Important Things Privately
Some people with social anxiety are afraid of being confronted by others and attracting unwanted attention to themselves as a result. Do what you can to avoid this outcome by trying to have tough conversations in private. In addition to using this workplace coping mechanism, make sure you’re well prepared by considering how to respond if the other party says something to argue against a point you’ve mentioned. This tactic should help you come across more calmly, which will hopefully allow you to express yourself more clearly, too.
Many employers are under the impression Millennials prefer lots of collaboration in the places where they work. Even if that is true for the general majority, company leaders must realize that some Millennials defy stereotypes, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it could bring something brand new and exciting to the table.
Social anxiety can be tough to overcome in any circumstance, but is especially bad if being around others is commonplace where you work. These tips should help you start feeling more confident, competent and comfortable while you’re on the clock and beyond.
Jennifer Landis is a millennial mom, wife, and is crazy passionate about health and wellness. She writes about it on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. She loves a good cup of tea and enjoys spending her free time running, doing yoga, and watching Doctor Who.