Three Easy Ways to Counteract Anxiety in the Workplace
Updated: Sep 3
"Could you fill in for three interviews we're holding on Monday?"
I stopped typing on my computer and looked up, positive that I'd misheard my boss. He repeated his question and reasoning for the request, and I nodded my head in mute amazement.
I've interviewed people before - and how could I ever forget the painfulness that comes with being on the other end of the interview panel! Yet his request caught me off-guard because my initial response was a surge of fear. What am I so afraid of?
Perhaps the most unsettling part of my daily battles with anxiety is that I can never truly pinpoint the source of it. I dig back into my memories and try to recall a time when a task like this went sour, but nothing returned to mind.
Like nearly all of my anxiety, it can usually stem from two specific areas: the fear of letting someone down or the fear of social interaction. I'm not sure which is worse in my mind.
And yet my desire to excel in whatever role I am in tends to override those terrified feelings, and so I comply with requests and in the meantime, find ways to pacify the terror.
When I left the office on Friday afternoon, I knew that I could not handle having the dread of the following week hanging over my weekend, and so began my journey to counteract my anxiety before it got the best of me.
1. Ask for Clarification
Even if you're fairly sure that you understand what is being asked of you, it never hurts to go back for further clarification before diving into the task at hand.
After I had time to process my boss' request, I headed to his office to clarify what he expected from my time in the interview process. He explained what the other managers would be handling and what he hoped I could accomplish during my appointment.
Once I received his feedback, I felt a small part of my anxiety lift since I now had explicit confirmation about his expectations.
2. Prepare In Advance
I am a planner, forever toting around not only my digital calendar but also my paper-bound planner. When tasks are requested of me at work that I find daunting, my first task is to write the due date in my planner, and work backwards to create a bite-sized plan that will allow me to make it more manageable.
My first task is always to research (thank goodness for Google, am I right?) and compile an outline to complete the task. For these interviews, I researched who I would be interviewing, their qualifications, and the job descriptions that they had applied to.
I then researched questions that would help guide our hour-slot. I varied them and included at least 15 to ensure I could jump around if things were discussed organically.
I then printed out the resumes and questionnaires, and filed them away, which allowed me to pack away my internal concerns and enjoy the weekend ahead.
3. Dress for Success
On Monday morning, I awoke extra early in an attempt to help my frazzled nerves. I had laid out an outfit the night before that made me feel confident and professional - think blazer and heels.
I took my time on my morning routine of hair care and make-up, and stopped for a quick bite to eat before getting into the office.
The results were incredible. My confidence was at an all time high, and I felt qualified to be the one conducting these interviews. As I finished my day, I was more excited about my role within the company than I had been for a long time.
I am fully aware that anxiety impacts everyone in completely different ways, which also makes the way you combat these moments different as well.
Yet the important thing to remember is that there are ways to see yourself through a particularly scary situation at work. There are some days where I have cancelled phone calls and meetings because I just cannot handle the fear. But if I am able to find ways that help you to manage your anxiety and complete tasks, be sure to repeat them often!