Working from home might be the ideal scenario if you deal with social phobia. But unfortunately, work-at-home jobs aren't as readily available as traditional office work. Therefore, even if you deal with social phobia, there might be no way around daily interaction with people.
This may be extremely difficult for you, to say the least. You probably feel that others are constantly judging you, and you might be overly preoccupied with embarrassing or humiliating yourself. To avoid awkward social encounters, you may prefer isolation or limited contact with others.
However, even if you deal with social phobia, you can survive the corporate world.
#1 Arrive to Meetings Early
If you're attending a meeting, do not be the last person to arrive. This might be easier since arriving late means you don't have to make small talk with others. But if you deal with social anxieties, it might be less scary to greet people as they arrive, as opposed to walking into a room full of people.
#2 Realise That you're not Alone
Studies show that approximately 40% to 50% of people describe themselves as shy. Although social phobia and shyness are not the same, shy people often feel as you do. Since many people are uneasy in groups, the majority of people at work, meetings and other corporate functions are probably just as nervous. The next time you're apprehensive about a corporate function, take the focus off yourself and realise that you're not alone. Most people are too busy worrying about themselves.
#3 Plan Ahead When Speaking With Others
If you have to discuss an issue with your boss or coworker, you might procrastinate due to nervousness. However, preparation is the best way to deal with anxiety. Make a note of points you want to discuss beforehand. Practice what you want to say out loud. This way, you avoid stumbling over your words and you're able to express yourself clearly.
#4 Rehearse Conversation Starters
Before attending a work function, watch the news or read the newspaper and think of key items to discuss as you mingle with guests. Social functions can be a nightmare for someone with social phobia. But if you arrive with a list of interesting topics to discuss, it'll be easier to get through the night. Remember, it's not your responsibility to carry the entire conversation -- this takes at least two participants.
#5 Take a Breather and Escape
Socialising in the corporate world can be physically and mentally exhausting. Therefore, if you need to take a breather, do so. It's okay to disappear from a corporate function for five or 10 minutes. Take a walk to your car, sit in the lobby or go to the restroom. Use this time to clear your head and recharge.
#6 Bring a Friend to Social Events
If permitted, bring your spouse or a friend to social corporate functions. This person can act as your wingman, providing a comfortable, familiar face.
Whether you're shy, an introvert or deal with social anxiety, you can survive the workplace and get through corporate functions with ease. Plan ahead, take breaks and bring a friend.
Image Credit: [Flickr]