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Career Q&A - Dealing with Workplace Feelings

I dread office meetings! I am often anxious about attending because I am worried to be asked to speak up during the meetings. What can I do? - Maddison, Channel Marketing

Given the amount of time we spent at work, the relationships and behaviours of others and the overall culture at the workplace does affect how we respond and feel when we are at work. In this post pandemic season where more employees are returning to work, there is that added awkwardness of physical interactions at meetings and discussions. It is timely to review how we can better manage ourselves and our workplace interactions.

We are glad to share some views using social emotional learning to create some perspectives and ideas for you.

Social emotional learning and why it matters for work

According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making are 5 key areas of social emotional learning.

These 5 areas overlap with what CASEL found from employers they surveyed. Employers frequently regarded communication and interpersonal skills, self-management skills, the ability to collaborate or work in teams, problem-solving skills, and integrity or the ability to make ethical decisions as important and in-demand areas. The expectations for work is not just about performance and skills; it includes personal effectiveness in how work is carried out.

In an ideal world, the workplace is playground for employees to use these qualities to do their work. In reality, these qualities are often absent or lacking due to unhelpful workplace behaviours, relationships, cultures and unhelpful emotions and thoughts within us. So what can we do to be more effective when we need to handle different work situations?

Acknowledge what we are saying to ourselves

Behind every emotion we feel, there is a reason that invokes the emotion. When certain work situations create emotions of fear, worry or anxiety, it is helpful to pause and review what is causing those emotions. Identify what you are saying in your thoughts, which led to the emotions you are feeling. It helps to list these thoughts down and confront them objectively.

For example: "I am anxious at meetings especially when I get called to speak" could be invoked by thoughts of "I am worried of saying something wrong" or "I don't think people will listen to me".

Apply an objective view to our thoughts

Being objective means being factual, relying on evidence and proof points. When it comes to our unhelpful thoughts, applying an objective lens to it may allow us to see things from a different perspective. It creates alternative ways of thinking and allows us to choose and reconstruct how we want to think. Think of it as a rewiring of our logical thought process.

For example:

"I am worried of saying something wrong"

What is the worst that could happen if I said something wrong?

When was the last time I said anything wrong in a meeting?

Who else said something wrong at a meeting and what happened to the person?

"I don't think people will listen to me"

How would I know if people are listening?

When was the last time people listened to me at a meeting?

Allow empathy to flow into and out of you

Empathy means seeing things from other's perspective and to reserve judgement. While it is often mentioned as application to others, it also applies to ourselves. Self empathy allows us to suspend judgement on ourselves when we notice, recognise what is happening to us. In high stakes, performance driven societies and environments, self-empathy is usually neglected, in favour of excellence and striving.

Learn to withhold judgement and see things from the perspectives of others. Be kind to yourself, forgive and laugh at mistakes. Acknowledge that the world is not in black and white extremes but its filled with shades of grey and many other colors too! There can be acceptance and comfort in knowing that we just need to do our best in where ever we are working in.

Personal effectiveness is not just personal, it can be learnt.

At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job and also career enrichment services to people who want to be more effective at work. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you.


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