stage fright at work

How to tackle stage fright at work

Are you one of those people who suffer from stage fright at work? Do you get anxious at the thought of speaking in front of your colleagues, making a public presentation, or even having a meeting with a colleague or your supervisor? Then read on, because in this post we are going to talk about this emotion that at regular levels is necessary but, in your case, may have become excessive and, therefore, unhealthy.

We often associate stage fright with a feeling of panic when we have to address a large audience. It is as if we have to face an entire auditorium full of hypercritical eyes that are watching us waiting for us to make a mistake. 

This would be one of the clearest examples but, in reality, we don’t need to act in a play or give a large lecture for this emotion to appear. If we stop to think about it, our whole life is a stage! Whenever we are in front of another human being, we are in some way stepping onto stage situations in which we have to perform in front of an audience, whether it is one person facing us, twenty colleagues sitting around the conference room table, or three thousand perfectly anonymous individuals. 

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stage fright at work

Stage fright at work

As we have just described it, stage fright is the fear of not being able to express ourselves in front of others, being paralyzed, and experiencing that communicative situation with enormous psychological discomfort

In reality, your stage fright at work is nothing more than a way your body has developed to avoid exposing itself to situations that, because you find them very threatening, could be psychologically overwhelming for you

So, you can understand it as a protection or a defense mechanism. That is, a strategy to face communication when you are at work. Okay, maybe it protects you from being exposed to a bad time (or a very bad time) and that is why your body clings to stage fright at work. However, isn’t it true that this way of functioning is also generating more than one problem for you?

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For example, the more you avoid, the less you expose yourself to situations in which you could train your communication skills, and the less you practice the ability to be with your fear-associated reactions and the ability to regulate them. Think, for example, of all those catastrophic thoughts, those physical sensations that tense and paralyze you, those desires (or real attempts) to escape and slip away: there should be a way not to feel all that and avoidance is certainly not the best way. 

How do I know if I have stage fright at work?

It is important to point out that not any form of rejection or aversion towards a communicative situation at work, in which we have to expose ourselves in front of others, is a situation of stage fright. A situation may make us angry, or we may feel lazy, or we may not want to face it because it clutters our agenda or we consider it useless. In these cases, it is very likely that we are not very participative and that we even do our best to prevent it from happening. However, this does not necessarily mean that these are examples of situations in which we feel stage fright at work. 

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So, how do I know if a meeting, encounter, speech, or any other work situation generates fear in me? Take a look at the following scenarios:

1. I see others as a threat and expect negative judgments.

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2. I anticipate that I will not know what to say, I will draw a blank, I will hesitate and come across in a ridiculous manner. 

3. My feeling of physical restlessness, i.e., alertness, goes beyond a certain nervousness, it is a high degree of anxiety. 

4. I have had serious performance problems in my communication because of my fear. 

5. I systematically avoid speaking in front of my colleagues or having meetings with them out of fear of all of the above. 

If you can relate to any or all of these statements, it’s probably not laziness or indifference, but rather stage fright at work.

How to tackle stage fright at work? 

Actually, the most appropriate word would not be to get rid of it: you will probably always retain some of your stage fright at work – after all, life is not perfect, just as people are not perfect. What is possible is that, with the help of the right psychologist, you can learn to manage it. So, certain situations in your professional and personal life that become torture, terrify and block you may simply be reasonably uncomfortable situations in which you function normally and, why not, satisfactorily.  

Therefore, very briefly explained, there is a great consensus around the idea that the avoidance of situations that frighten us makes our fear last over time, while exposure to such situations can help that fear, in this case, stage fright at work, to reduce. 

Such exposure must obviously take place in a progressive manner (from less fearful situations to more fearful situations). It must also be accompanied by training in anxiety regulation and, of course, by a detailed exploration of the background and consequences of this stage fright at work, as well as its characteristics when it appears: how it originated, what it consists of, in what other situations it occurs, how you manage it while it appears and afterward, what have been the worst situations in which your stage fright has appeared at work…

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Emotional well-being for companies

At ifeel, we understand that it is not possible to take care of the company without taking care of the psychological well-being of its employees. To do so, we have an emotional well-being program for companies, designed by our team of occupational well-being psychologists with one main objective: to help companies place employee health at the center of their strategy to build their mission statement.  

Thanks to this partnership, the people in charge of HR departments can receive personalized, data-driven advice on how to make good decisions in a company to get the most out of the teams they are in charge of and take better care of the psychological well-being of the people in them. 

Moreover, this program offers employees a holistic mental health care service structured at different levels according to their needs. This service includes, if required, online psychological therapy with a psychologist specialized in cases like theirs. Try our program today so you can see how it could help you.

We hope you have found this post about stage fright at work interesting. If you want more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, simply request it and we will contact your team as soon as possible. You may also be interested in this post about mental well-being at work.

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