Workplace anxiety sucks.
A work party is not the time to freeze up, it’s time to network and get to know your coworkers.
Of course, it’s hard to network when you’re analyzing your every move and breathing into a paper bag to calm down.
Personally, this is by far my biggest professional bugaboo. When it happens, I feel nearly incapacitated. Words I don’t recognize come tumbling out of my mouth, my throat closes up, and I look around for my next exit or ally to lean on to make it through. If I could, I would avoid work holiday parties altogether.
For some, navigating a room full of people when they’re not 100% secure is a nightmare.
Unfortunately for most, workplace anxiety strikes as it pleases. With the holidays approaching, you know you’ll be in need of more than a few of these tricks. One tip, don’t lean on alcohol to get you there, that’s an easy backfire waiting to happen. (If it’s an awkward a family function – drink up).
One of the main triggers must be a change in expectations. When social norms change, but people do not, the cues criss-cross. Reading these cues can be extremely stressful. So for me, year after year, this anxiety springs forth and I wonder, what can I do to mitigate this awkwardness?
You don’t need a therapy session – you need a plan.
Clearly there is the argument that anxious feelings don’t just go away. In fact, most information out there about workplace anxiety digs at the heart of the anxious feelings. There’s nothing wrong with this, in fact, it’s probably a good idea to pull this thread. If you have time, this article gives great suggestions for more in-depth solutions.
However, when there’s an event in two hours with your boss and coworkers, calling your therapist and discussing your childhood just isn’t fast enough. What you need a band-aid to get through the immediate problem.
Plan ahead and use these quick-fixes to forego social anxiety:
Before the Event: Combine inner zen w/ inner circle. Meditate/exercise beforehand, and carpool with friends if you can.
During the party
- Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves! Be genuine and interested. Let them chat away and guide the conversation back to them.
- Keep something in your hand. In interviews, I take a pen or a water bottle to keep my hands steady. In work events, normally a bag or an outfit with pockets.
- Take a deep inhale. Seriously, just 6 breaths. When you do it, loosely release tension in your hands.
- Slow down. Your mind may feel like it is racing a mile a minute. It’s hard to think like this, so come back to your breath and remember it’s just one event, and they’re just people.
- Remember, you’re not alone! Anxiety is very common in these situations. Half the people you’re talking to are also feeling super-awkward.
- Accept your surroundings/situation. You’re not getting out of this, so buckle down and find presence in your current moment. Be kind to yourself in the meanwhile, you’re doing just fine.
You did it! You survived! Do something nice for yourself. Like maybe sitting in a dark room with a good book. Alone. With ice cream.
About the Author:
Brianna is a business person with a passion for social science. The two seem to always intersect and come together in Indie. If you’d like to know more, check this out! If you like this article, please subscribe & check out Indie for more. Thanks, as always, for reading! If you have a story to share, please share it below!