There’s only really one point to make here, and that’s the fact that some of the greatest minds, some of the most successful businessmen and some of the most powerful leaders have all lived and worked through social anxiety.
You can make a career out of what you’re good at – regardless of how you live your life. Just ask Barbra Streisand, Kim Basinger or Bill Gates, or have a look at the lives of Sir Laurence Olivier or Abe Lincoln.
So whether you’re a computer programmer, a writer, a factory worker, a farmer, a lawyer, politician or teacher – you’ll be great if you enjoy it. And you’ll find plenty of ways in which you can manage your social anxiety at work once you’re there.
That, of course, is the big issue: once you’re there. First of all you’ve got to get on to that career ladder.
A job interview or an interview for a place at college or university is a stressful situation for anyone – and of course it’s going to trigger a fair few of your social anxiety responses.
So here are some great reasons why you should face your anxieties and tips to help you make the grade:
1. It’s your ability they want…
One of the recurrent themes of those with social anxiety is the worry that people will find out that there’s something wrong with them – and at job interviews questions might come up which need you to say you have social anxiety. But that’s not going to happen. Any potential boss needs to know you’re good at your job, you’re punctual, you’re productive – all the things which will help their business run smoothly. If they ask questions like “do you have any weaknesses” they don’t want to know about your social anxiety, they want to know something work-related. Of course your social anxiety might mean that your weaknesses include things like timekeeping (in which you can say that you’re working on it by utilising your Outlook or Gmail calendar religiously) or that you’re self-critical (in which case you can ask your managers to work with you during performance reviews).
What’s important in a job interview is that you talk about the job at hand.
2. It’s not unusual…
You aren’t on your own feeling nervous when confronted by an interview panel – the vast majority of those who’ve gone to college or university, or who have faced a job interview will have worried about making a good impression or a fool of themselves. That’s just natural. Because you have social anxiety, all that’s different is that you’re prone to experiencing these feelings and thinking that they, in themselves, are something to be afraid of.
In many ways, actually having a bit of adrenaline flowing when you’re facing an interviewer can be a good thing – you just need to accept it and ride it.
3. Preparation, preparation, preparation…
Chances are that you’ll be up against competition in any job interview so you’ll be wanting to do some research into the company or college, and the sort of work that will be expected of you. Everyone else will be doing this preparation, you – because of social anxiety – might just want to do a little more:
- Know where you’re going and how to get there so you’re not late and can be settled before the interview.
- Make a checklist of everything you need to take like references, business cards etc so that you don’t worry on the day about any of the smaller details.
- Treat yourself well leading up to the interview by getting a good sleep, doing some exercise, avoiding caffeine and visualising success.
- Work on ways in which you can ask questions of the interviewer so they have to do a lot of the talking. Once you get into the mindset that you need to discover as much as possible about the job on offer, it will help settle your responses to their questions.
4. This is just the first step…
Finding a job can be hard for anyone and certainly there will be challenges specific to you and your social anxiety once you get a job or as you progress through your career via job interviews. What’s important to remember is that the interview is just the start: you still need to work on personal and professional growth once you’re in a role. Confronting your anxieties is a major step to overcoming them and the work environment is a perfect place where you have the structure and routine, in which you can work on aspects of your anxiety such as interactions with colleagues or having to speak up in public.
The more professional you are at your job, the more likely your workmates and managers will work with you to help your anxiety.
Like this post? Feel free to share it to friends and family who may find it helpful. And of course, if you have any comments or other ideas I’d love to hear from you.
All the best, Kyle