Social anxiety is completely different from just being shy. It’s one of the most common anxiety disorders encountered these days. Sometimes, people don’t even know they are suffering from this anxiety. They are normally fearful about being in a public place and they feel like everything is out of their control. It plays out when you talk with your colleague in the workplace; you avoid sharing eye contact with a stranger at a social gathering; or worse, you want to stop going to work because you don’t want to feel judged by your colleagues. Suffering from social anxiety can prevent you from delivering your full potential in the workplace. However, Shannon O’Brien shares her delightful tips on similar scenarios collected from our readers that can help overcome this fear: –
1. “I tend to come off as cold and disinterested when I’m trying to form new friendships with colleagues.”
Ask yourself WHY you are being cold and disinterested: What are you feeling….? Is it distrust? Or insecurity? We all have varying levels of comfort when meeting new people. The speed with which you “warm up” to someone is NOT the most important thing. Give yourself permission to take the time you need to trust and discover someone so that you comfortable with them. Above all: be yourself, be real and be authentic. If you are trying to form a friendship… try to emulate the ‘Golden Rule’ – of treating others how you wish to be treated. Our outer world is often a reflection of our inner world, and our inner thoughts. Therefore, if you are warm with others, they will be warm with you.” You may benefit from listening to this interview I conducted on establishing deeper relationships – Click here.
2. “Attending social gatherings at work invokes rapid heartbeats and it takes me a few days to prepare for them.”
If you feel your preparations help you manage attending social gatherings… do what is working for you. If your heart is racing, you need to listen to your body and what it needs. While extroverts gain energy from social gatherings… it sounds like you may just be an introvert, who is not gaining positive energy from these gatherings. Ask yourself some key questions: 1. Is it mandatory that you attend this event 2. If so, why? What is the real reason you need to go? Then set some intentions. If you DO decide to attend, 1. Is it helpful if you set a time/ duration/ limit in your mind? (i.e. “I will stay for ONE HOUR.”) 2. Is there a comfortable goal you can set that will help make the event more FUN for you? e.g. I will speak with ONE person who I already know / like / trust. Above all: Stay open to, and trust the process of life. There’s no need to feel pressure to speak to others, unless it comes naturally. So just ‘go with the flow.’
3. “I often avoid eye contact with people at meetings so that I don’t have to speak.”
I’m curious to know why you don’t want to speak. Do you feel you don’t have anything to contribute? Do you fear what you have to share will be “wrong”? Or that people will laugh? Be clear on WHY you are avoiding speaking. Are you envisioning a worst-case scenario? If so, try to envision the Best-case scenario… what if you DID share? What if you engaged with your colleagues and they appreciated you and your work? If that new “best” reality is not something that feels good to you… you might as well stick to what you’re doing now, more of the same.
4. “I sometimes feel afraid of being the center of attention when I have achieved something at work.”
Sometimes it is difficult to “RECEIVE”. Whether it is a gift, words of praise, or recognition for our hard work… we have an aversion to being seen. Do we feel embarrassed? Ashamed? Not worthy? It’s hard to pinpoint where these feelings come from. Close your eyes and try to go deeper to figure out what is behind your own aversion to receiving attention. Above all: you must be doing great work, if your colleagues want to give you attention for it. (So, bravo on your hard work!) You may want to practice responding with a simple, humble sentence that will allow you to accept praise quickly, so you (and everyone) can move on. Perhaps something like: “Thank you so much everyone. I love my work, and it’s great to be a part of this team.”
5. “I prefer to be in a closed environment rather than an open environment.”
I imagine there could be a reason or an event that this phobia stems from, whether in this life, or a past life. If you want to learn more about the origin, you may wish to consult a trained psychologist or healer. But to keep it simple, since you stated that you do have a clear preference…. just do, go, and be whatever and wherever feels safe and comfortable to you. Honour your preferences.
Interested in working with Shannon O’Brien? Visit www.wholeu.info to learn more about how to gain confidence and find purpose in life through her advising services. Connect with Shannon… Facebook: @WholeU.LifeStrategy / Instagram: @wholeu.lifestrategy / Twitter:@ShannonWholeU