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Boss told me to be more "out-going", but I have social anxiety - HELP?


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Here is my scenario; as of July 3, 2008 I was hired by company for an Administrative Assistant position. I was apparently chosen over 50 other candidates for the position and was considered an "awesome addition to the team". This job offers my life financial stability & benefits. So far, I love my job and the people I work with. But unfortunately, being a single parent (with zero support from the father), I tend to be exhausted most of the time which effects my overall energy level & appearance. I try so hard to be superwomen both at home & at work – but I am seriously burning out - FAST. With no downtime, I never seem to "re-charge my batteries" so to speak.


Here is my problem; although I consider myself to be very friendly and hard-working employee, my boss has told me I need to be more "out-going" & socialize with clients in order to keep my position. This is a problem for me because I have social anxiety and tend to be reserved & quiet in nature. Had the job description read "out-going" rather than "highly-skilled & efficient" - I would have never applied for the job. Over the past few weeks I have put forth the extra effort to smile & talk more to people (which btw, takes time away from my many other daily tasks), I am starting to get very stressed out and worried for the future of job. Also I do not have a family doctor and cannot get long-term anxiety medication. I am in a no win situation.


Because I am in the probation period of my job, my boss can let me go for any reason - hence - not being "out-going" enough. I cannot afford to lose this position & I have no idea how to change my personality or energy level in order to be the person he wants me to be - any suggestions?

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It is hard to do the opposite of what you feel inside. One thing that I must say though, its sounds like you are doing all you can. Bravo for "making it work". Its a tough balance sometimes to be friendly and productive. What I try and do when the convo seems to be going on too long is to say, I would love to keep chatting, but I should really get back to this, how about going for lunch or I am taking my break around 3, want to have a coffee in the staff room? That way you are friendly, still showing interest, but still able to get some things done.


Good Luck!



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Ugh, I know exactly what you mean. Customer service is half of my job and I was told to sound happier over the phone. I am very mellow, and my voice is very mechanical. I also have social anxiety. I hate trying to sound excited and perky all the time it makes me feel fake. I guess smiling and talking a little more to the customers might help. Just don't try to overdue it and pay attention to your other duties.

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I am seriously burning out - FAST. With no downtime, I never seem to "re-charge my batteries"


I know exactly how that feels like and you know the symptoms a week or two before you break down and want to just... crawl inside your bed and never ever get up to deal with the issue cause it's just so painful even to think about doing the job. One can only deal with so many days of stress before one breaks down. And mere 2-3 day break wouldn't regenerate yourself UNLESS you don't have to worry about it during the break; it is THEN you BEGIN to recharge.


And being "outgoing" isn't merely a behavior that can change in a single month. It's uncomfortable and adds to the overall stress. Not only that, you don't have an outlet to complain. You instinctively know it's unwise to have your boss to sympathize because you 'decided' to join the force.


I guess you only have 3 choices.


1. adapt to the environment as quick as possible.

2. negotiate as to what 'outgoing' means to your boss and only spend that energy at critical times.

3. stay for an extra bit and if it becomes overburdening, resign from that position.


Having a positive attitude that you're GOOD at it - helps.

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Dont be like me and completely avoid those types of jobs (im in logistics...by myself).


Use this oppurtunity to learn and bring out the person you've always wanted to be. Theres some massive pressure on you i know but turn this around to help you instead of the company, know what im sayin.


I have social anxiety too, but i think if your happy to begin with you dont have to deal with that issue..... so what makes you happy?

music makes me the happy as hell. thats why im always blastin beats or roling with my ipod.

find what makes you happy and use it to help you with work. what is it thats killing your self confidence?

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This might sound crazy but.. ignore your boss for now. Focus on your other great work qualities (dedicated worker, punctual, meeting deadlines, accurate work, initiative to go "above and beyond" etc) to prove yourself valuable to your company in those ways. If you go nuts trying to please everyone you will only end up self destructing and having no value to the company, however, if you focus on amplifying your strengths rather than improving your weaknesses you will know you are doing your best and that is *always* good enough. If they still put pressure you to be someone you simply cannot be, make the minimal effort to meet their demands (smile while on the phone with clients), and then detach yourself from the situation and stick it out until they fire you (so you can milk the good money and the benefits for as long as possible, you have good reason to do this cuz you are doing this for your kid(s?) and remember that you will always be able to find another job, but do not, under any circumstances, allow a *job* to make you feel bad or incompetent since *you* know you are a worthy person... its not worth it, instead, tell yourself you've done the best you could, and remember that you are the exeption to the rule - most people are NOT hard workers and they have no reservations being a mediocre employee and just being there for a paycheck - they do not think about their job after they punch out at 5pm, and if your new company is too stupid to realize that they had a great employee when they had you then it is their loss not yours and respect is just as important in a job as money and benefits.

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Oh geez, how come no family doctor nor treatment for the anxiety?


It's obvious you have been kicking some butt in your life! Going full force and passing expectations left and right.


The answer is somewhat simple but not simple in execution. You NEED a doctor, you NEED some help with the kids, you NEED on-going and check-up as you go treatment with the anxiety, and practical on-going solutions to the time crunches and drains on you.


Basically, you need some hands and help.


So what is going on here? Are you in a more isolated, small community? Do you have access to a good support system?


There's no doubt you could kick some butt and do this socializing needed for the job if only you had more time to yourself to re-charge.


But for the moment, while setting it up - I happen to agree with the idea of not stressing about this aspect of your job too much early on. It's ONE thing to improve on, but you have all those other great aspects you bring to work which is why they obviously hired you!

We always have something we need improving on at work, and bosses like to keep us on our toes.


If you could do what you have done so far, and I know social anxiety is just awful, but it can be BEAT. It just takes energy and practice, and a really great support system including a good constant doc! , which you are in short supply of time and energy to do that right now.


good luck.

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When my son was small, I had two jobs and I went to school almost full time. I know all about the exhaustion thing. In both of my jobs, I dealt with people quite a bit. I was never allowed to be "down", ever. After work every day, I went straight to school for two to four hours, then I went home to my son and helped him with homework and did my own. I learned how to function on four hours sleep a night. It sounds impossible, but I did it for years. Now my son is grown and in college and I sleep every chance I get. Just hang in there. "Fake it 'til you make it". Just remember to smile, never forget a name, and be very concerned with your clients. It will all work out.

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