When you think of social anxiety, you might imagine people who are shy and awkward in social situations. You probably wouldn’t expect to find socially anxious people working as cashiers or driving an Uber. But the truth is, many people with social anxiety have found work that involves interacting with others.
This type of anxiety can be detrimental to your career prospects, especially if you fear being judged by others and being put on the spot during interviews or other job-related interactions.
Social anxiety can manifest itself in different ways and degrees of intensity, but it all comes down to having a fear of adverse reactions from other people. It could be as simple as feeling uncomfortable speaking up in group conversations or as intense as refusing to speak up because you’re afraid that everyone will laugh at what you say or how you say it.
What is Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety is a disorder characterised by an intense fear of being negatively judged or evaluated by others. It can make social situations difficult, including work, school, and day-to-day interactions with friends and family. Social anxiety may be present from childhood and often leads to a fear of public speaking.
While some people fear being evaluated negatively by a specific person, others fear being negatively assessed by a group of people. This often leads to avoidance of social situations, making it difficult to advance in one’s career or form relationships with peers and supervisors at work.
What are the Signs of Social Anxiety?
Socially anxious people may exhibit certain signs and symptoms, including nervous or jittery behaviour, excessive worry, difficulty speaking up or holding a conversation, and extreme self-consciousness.
Individuals who suffer from social anxiety may also feel symptoms of depression, like feeling hopeless or worthless, having difficulty sleeping, having low energy levels and mood, and having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
What Causes Social Anxiety?
There could be many reasons why someone would develop social anxiety. Some socially anxious people may have had a negative experience in the past that made them fear being judged. For example, a young person may have been harshly criticised by a parent for a poor performance in a school play.
Others may have grown up in a family or community environment that heavily emphasised perfectionism, performance, and success, leaving little room for failure. Still, others may have been the target of bullying or abuse at some point.
Social anxiety can result from genetics, which could be a hereditary condition. It can also be triggered by specific traumatic events, such as being the victim of violence or abuse.
Why do People Develop Social Anxiety?
People who suffer from social anxiety often feel like they are being evaluated negatively by others even when they aren’t. They tend to focus on the negative aspects of a situation or interaction, even if other people are being kind and supportive.
Their fear of being negatively judged could have many roots. Some socially anxious people may have experienced a traumatic event in their past, such as being bullied or abused, which has made them hypersensitive to any signs of criticism or judgment from others.
Others may have grown up in an environment where negative criticism and judgment were common, leaving them feeling that they could never live up to the expectations of others. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to social anxiety, which means they could inherit the condition from their parents.