How to deal with workplace politics when you have social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety might be what’s between you and that promotion.

May is mental health awareness month

Healthline defines Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as SAD as “a type of anxiety disorder that causes extreme fear in social settings.

“People with this disorder have trouble talking to people, meeting new people, and attending social gatherings. They fear being judged or scrutinized by others.”

Social anxiety is different from being shy or introverted. It is an actual mental condition that requires a medical diagnosis. According to mindmypeelings.com “Introversion is about social energy, while social anxiety is a mental illness focused on fear of social interactions.

While introverts like to be alone or have a close-knit circle of friends, those who suffer from social anxiety fear any form of social interaction.

In the office or workplace, social and official interactions among co-workers is an area where extroverted personalities shine.

Extroverts are friendly, sociable and talk about their achievements. These skills are necessary for the LinkedIn age where people are constantly posting their achievements and recruiters constantly on the prowl for talent.

Those with social anxiety are at a disadvantage

Business News Day defines Workplace or office politics as the manifestation of power dynamics among co-workers.

Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting said this about office politics: “people leverage these power dynamics to further their interests or that of a group they are affiliated with. Such behaviour is inevitable, given that human beings are naturally political and will do whatever it takes to protect their interests.”

Since your furthering interests should be at the forefront in the workplace, overcoming social anxiety is important, so you can play office politics to your advantage.

Here is David, a young man working in a PR agency, describing how social anxiety affects him in the office, “It doesn’t let me come out the way I would want to...just cause I am afraid of how our superiors might take it and in the end, I might settle for what I get even if I am not happy with it.”

Fikayo, a lawyer, also speaks on the issue of social anxiety in the workplace; “Social anxiety affects self-confidence, the likelihood of trying new experiences, it affects bonding and forming relationships.

“The person may not be willing to speak up or make suggestions out of fear of the unknown. Not knowing that we are all frauds and dilettantes and nobody has figured it out.

“Social anxiety may also affect self-improvement because the person isn't actively engaging to make mistakes and learn.”

How can you get over social anxiety in the workplace?

Being extremely competent at your job helps you build confidence, so work on that first.

Therapists always advise Cognitive Behavioural Therapy when dealing with anxiety.

Verywellmind.com discusses the meaning, saying: “cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behaviour and emotions.

“Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on changing the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to and worsen emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety. These spontaneous negative thoughts have a detrimental influence on mood.”

“Through CBT, these thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts.”

What CBT says is to step out of your comfort zone despite your fears and see that nothing is holding you back.

Talk to your supervisor about your contribution to the project, boast about your achievement on LinkedIn, ask for a pay raise and challenge your fears so you can see that there is nothing there.

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