Overcome Social Anxiety at Work

7 Methods to Overcome Social Anxiety at Work

Do you feel a little way too nervous while at your work or in front of your coworkers? Then you might be suffering from social anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just shyness. Just thinking about people or meetings leading to a pounding heart, shaky voice, rapid breathing, sweating, blushing, an upset stomach, etc. are some symptoms. If you want to get your career to the highest point, you have to overcome social anxiety at work and other places as well.

Yes, many people get a little self-conscious at times or feel shy around others, but social anxiety significantly worsens the quality of life. When you become more confident socially, you open the door to so much—new job opportunities, new friendships and of course, more excitement to your life.

How to Overcome Social Anxiety at Work

If you’re suffering from social anxiety, you might have tried many methods to get over the fear. People might tell you to stop being so shy and network with your coworkers. However, you end up being super nervous and anxious in front of others. It might be because you are not doing what really is effective in cases of social anxiety. Worry not! I (however, being an introvert) will provide you some effective methods that will surely help to overcome social anxiety at work (I still am working on mine, though).

Start Small but Start

A lady hand shaking with her coworkers

Start Small but Start. Image Source: job-like.com

The key to unlocking yourself from social anxiety at work is to start small and gradually challenge yourself out of your comfort zone. Trust me when I say this, I know how difficult it is to open up to people. But, you need to start somewhere, so, start small. Don’t just jump on your coworkers, try to start a polite conversation with them first. Ask them how they are, if they are busy, what are they working on, etc. nothing too intense! As you get positive responses and you see that nothing awful is happening, you will find it easier to talk to more and more people. This is a great start to overcome your social anxiety at work.

Practice Being Relaxed

A woman meditating in the garden

Try some meditation.

Worry less! Worries are no good at all. Worrying is self-programmable. When you repeatedly worry about a sit down with your boss or a presentation meeting at work, you repeatedly link anxiety to the working environment. Once you worry for a long period of time, your body gets used to being anxious, and when you go into the office, you’ll feel anxious because you’ve programmed yourself that way.

To overcome social anxiety at work, try some effective relaxation techniques. Relaxation helps you release your muscle tension. Below are some relaxation techniques you can try:

  • Breathing slowly and deeply
  • Count backward slowly, from five to one
  • Try meditation
  • Release your negative thoughts

Be Yourself Socially

Be yourself and give your best

Image Source: Imagesbuddy.com

When you suffer from social anxiety at work, you might feel like there’s more than just one personality in you. The one that likes singing your heart out in the shower at home and then there’s the other version of you at work who can’t even complete a sentence. Well, almost everyone does it. You bring a part of yourself to work and leave the rest at home. But, it’s high time you change that.

One of the best ways to overcome your social anxiety is to bring your whole self to work—but no singing in the office washroom though!

Trying to hide the real you could be contributing to your anxiety. If you’re secretly an artist, a really good singer or have any hidden talent in you, you can share it at your workplace. It can be a huge boost to your sense of well-being and help you overcome your anxiety.

Face your Fears

Scared employee

Face your fears.

Avoiding situations where you feel anxious seems like a reasonable solution to your anxiety in the short-term, but in the long-term, it will only mean greater limitations in your life. Also, the number of situations you find anxiety provoking has probably grown as your fear has generalized.

In order to overcome your fear of these situations, you will need to gradually face them again. Instead of ignoring your fears, why not be fearless and face them? So next time, if you have a sit down with your boss or attend a meeting, don’t be scared and just express yourself.


A man jogging

Exercise. Image Source: Sites@PSU

Exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness and is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity produces endorphins that act as natural mood-boosters and help promote sleep, which in turn reduces stress. A simple physical activity can deliver several hours of relief from anxiety, and regular exercise has been shown to have long-term effects. Try aiming for three hours a week of moderate exercise or two hours of vigorous exercise a week. Look for consistency rather than perfection, by including 20 minutes of exercise into each day.

Focus your Attention Outward

A group of colleagues talking at the office.

Focus your attention outwards. Image Source: Entrepreneur

Anxiety is caused by focusing on inward stuff rather than outwards. One of the best ways to overcome social anxiety at work is to switch your attention externally as much as possible. Taking attention away from your anxious thoughts takes away any power they have over you.

So, if you are given a task at work, try to focus on it or when a co-worker talks to you, give them your undivided attention instead of worrying about what you should say next or what they might be thinking about you. Avoid going internal to figure out your feelings, because you’ll only end up developing a host of negative thoughts that will make you more anxious again.

Meet New People

Business group portrait - Six business people working together. A diverse work group.

Meet new people. Image Source: Matchpoint Recruitment

Once you’ve started your small talks with some of your coworkers, it’s time to start expanding your social network. If you experience social anxiety at work, developing new relationships is very important. Social meetings provide an opportunity for repeated contact and are the best way to develop working friendships. Here are some ideas on how you can meet new people at your workplace:

  • Talk to a coworker, share coffee breaks or go for lunch together
  • Join a team at your workplace, play sports with your coworkers
  • Go for that team building event you’ve been avoiding

Once you start meeting new people, make a concrete plan to get involved and develop real relationships.

Finally, we have come to the end of our list of 7 methods to overcome social anxiety at work. Don’t feel discouraged if you fall back to your anxiety at times. Social anxiety can happen during stressful times at work like when you’re working under a tight deadline. This is normal, all you need to do it start using the methods discussed above.

Always remember, overcoming social anxiety at work is a lifelong process.

What helps you cope with social anxiety at your work? Do you have any suggestions or have something to add? Let us know through the comments section below.