...to ask for your tips on getting confident for going back to work?(18 Posts)
I'm due back at work shortly after a career break. New team, new start. Probs that I had before I left were:
Lack of confidence when speaking to people and appearing nervous
Not fitting in with the elegant dress of women in the office (not a typically glamorous profession)- they all have nice handbags, heels etc, whereas I'm more of a backpack and flats kind of person and can't afford a lot on clothes
Finding it difficult to know what colleagues actually 'want' from me, without sending 10 emails - it's like others have some sort of intuition about what's needed whereas I don't
Finding it difficult to prioritise work, having a disorganised inbox, and thinking I've completed what's needed and then suddenly at the last minute realising I haven't
Memory isn't brilliant
My review before I left wasn't too bad, the nervousness was the thing that was picked up on.
I just want to be so much better when I return. Any advice from people who've been in similar situations would be great, please. Anything I can read or do in advance? I do take ADs for social anxiety and will be asking to up my dose before I'm back at work. Thanks for any help.
You sound very similar to me. I went back to work a couple of years ago after a few years off as a sahm.
Tbh, and I am so sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, I have more or less accepted that I am what I am. I will never be glamorous or all that confident, although once I accepted that I became a little more happy in my self and maybe a bit more confident.
The work related issues you talk about, has anyone ever raised them with you at work, or could it be the anxiety speaking?
I know I contradicted myself with all that twaddle. End of term madness is polluting my brain.
I think a couple of good dresses would help you out here. You don't need to spend much but I think if you feel you look good then you will walk taller and be more at ease with yourself. For most people, if they know they aren't looking their best, that a fair bit of their confidence buggered right there.
Also, flat shoes and backpacks are in! So you can be super trendy with a quick trip to Accessorize. Ask a fashionable stylish friend to help you and get a dark, chic back pack.
The inbox thing - ask for training. If you use Outlook, once you know how do use Tasks/Calendar/Email all in unison it should be much easier for you. Arranging this kind of training shouldn't be difficult and your employer can probably sort it out inhouse.
The 'knowing what's required of you' thing. This is obviously intimately connected with the nervousness thing. You are double-double checking because you want to get things right and perhaps you are not hearing instructions because you are getting anxious and it isn't going in. You sounds so nervous that you aren't able to tune in to other people.
Is this just a work thing? You might need to address it holistically, across all aspects of your life. Yoga, assertiveness training, a bit of counselling - all these might help.
Lists. There's no point worrying about not being uber glamorous or confident if that's not your personality type. Instead concentrate on being efficient. It's worth so much more in the long run. Make an achievable list of five tasks you need to get through at work every day and tackle them methodically and thoroughly. As you become known as the person who gets things done your confidence and job satisfaction will rise. Good luck.
I love to do lists, and emailing confirmation of actions agreed after meetings to show you're on the right track and they can put you right if need be.
Accept that as a new starter you'll ask lots of questions, and that it's their responsibility to train you adequately, which involves answering those questions patiently.
I agree with others that it does sound like your anxiety stops you taking things in.
I struggle with anxiety, so at work often when I'm feeling a bit unsettled/unsure of what I'm doing, I tend to wait till after the weekend and then ask my team members if they can do a 5 minute catch up - then just have a quick chat where we recap on 'stuff we need to do this week' and get all our ducks in a row, and I just note down on lists. And I'm pretty junior. People like when you're checking in and communicating, and you're showing you're 'on it' and organised.
Clothes-wise (because it does help you feel better when you feel you look nice) have a look on Everything5Pounds. They update every day at 12 with new stock, and the clothes are end of lines from all over - asos, H and M, Oasis and so on. I have a lot of work dresses from here, and the shoes are great too.
Do you like perfume? Aldi and Lidl both do very good copies of designer scents. May just be me, but wearing a scent I like lifts my mood.
Will you be leading the team or participating as a team member?
Will it be very different from your old team?
Do you generally like your job?
Thank you everyone for all your advice.
Beryl, the only issue that's actually been mentioned at work was appearing nervous. So I think quality of written work is OK despite me struggling to be organised, remembering things etc.
Addtobasket, yes, you're right - I get so nervous I can't tune into people.
Houseofmirth, I like the 'five achievable things' on the list. I am awful at adding things to lists that will take months to achieve and therefore never come off the lists!
Tiredofsleep written confirmation of actions post-meeting sounds good too.
pandarific, that website sounds fab, thank you.
grumpysquash, luckily I don't lead a team.
It will be a bit different from my old team - quite young and trendy. They all seem really on the ball so I hope I can at least appear that way too!
I don't mind my job. With hindsight, I should have gone in a different direction for a levels and uni and planned for a career which required fewer people skills but it's a bit late to consider that now and we need the money coming in so I need to stick with this job for as long as I can...
Fake it until you make it and remember you are unique, how amazing is that!! That is the wonderfulness of it.
Re the disorganisation and memory thing:- I find I have to be able to SEE my to do lists to get through and remember everything.
One method is to have an open A4 book on your desk divided into squares for each hour of the working day, or whatever division makes sense for you. Each task is written down in one square with other information you need for it, e.g.phone numbers etc. As soon as you complete it, you draw a line through the square in a different colour.
Try tackling your inbox at set times. I find a short time a couple of times a week spent deleting and sorting into sub-folders keeps me on top of things.
Clothes: don't change your style. If heels aren't you, there's no need to wear them. You can still be smart. Choose things you can mix and match and also update periodically. I do this-one of my favourite types of work outfit is wide, wool flannel trousers, blouse, long cardigan and loafers. I have had versions of this outfit in my wardrobe since I was 18.
Try eg short tweedy jacket or cardigan, plain white, cream or pink T-shirt (I like Uniqlo's) and plain black, navy or grey wide trousers or A-line skirt, worn with tasselled or penny loafers.
If there is anything distinctive you genuinely like-brooches, bracelets, scarves-treat yourself to a couple of nice ones and enjoy wearing them.
Handbags-no need to play the whole how pricey is my handbag game unless you really want to. The Internet is full of lovely moderately priced bags (including leather backpacks) , usually from Italy or Spain, by makes you've never heard of if you do want to get a nice one.
Nerves: admit it, especially when you start, at least to the friendlier colleagues. And don't forget to show people that you like them.
Finally, all the things you mention: lack of confidence, nerves, anxiety, poor memory to point of forgetting tasks completely, not getting instructions, disorganisation, apply to me too. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. So, while it is probably your anxiety hampering you, there could be a cognitive issue. Worth thinking about.
The ways to deal with this are: don't multi-task. Do one thing, and then the next thing. Work your smart phone to death with lists, notes, reminders, alarms. I need an alarm to tell me to go to meetings etc! Write stuff down while you are speaking to people, not later . Don't put stuff off-you won't remember half of what you need.
There are a lot of self-help books about this. The one that really helped me is this one:
Thank you both. I must get hold of that book.
This thread is full of fab advice. Really glad I started it. Had a bit of a name change fail though - see that's the kind of dippy thing I might do at work...!
Don't worry too much about affordability of glam new work clothes. I mainly wear trouser suits (easy but boring) but try and make an effort every few days and wear a fitted dress and jacket. These are the outfits I've had most compliments for and most of the dresses are from primark or bon prix and cost bugger all.
Find outfits that work for you that are comfortable and smart - love wide leg wool trousers like another poster but I'm a bit chunky lol.
I have to write everything down as I have no memory - bit of a rep at work with the lists. I have a weekly plan that I draw up on a Monday or Friday afternoon of the week before with daily tasks - even down to checking emails. Anything with deadline gets a countdown.
Organising your inbox is a priority. I file in different folders, sort each morning, find a system that works for you even if it's a urgent, non urgent and complete system ect.
Be honest if your struggling to work out what they want ask them to be blunt and very specific with what they want - admit you struggle to read between the lines and need specifics. Part of this could be an anxiety not to get things wrong and you need to know your doing it right - because that's me exactly.
Meetings are the worst for being put on the spot in front of everyone and sending your anxiety levels soaring so I would advise dedicating time to preparation.
I worked with someone who chaired regular loooong meetings and would call one or two key people beforehand giving them updates but, importantly, he was getting their early reactions/questions and most of the time he'd also get "Oh yes and I was going to mention this tomorrow but I'll ask/tell you now". By the time it came round he'd pretty much already had the meeting as far as his work was concerned, he knew what everyone was going to say and looked very in control.
Also prepare a few stock phrases to avoid being put on the spot, my favourite is "I'll look into this and give you an answer by X - I don't want to answer now and then have to say I've told you the wrong thing." - I won't tell you which politician I saw use that but it was a great deferral!
Regarding appearing nervous, work on your body language. Stand up straight, walk into meetings in a positive way. You can do this job, so believe in yourself.
I really wouldn't worry about not fitting into 'the work dress mode either'. So long as your dress code is work appropriate, dress how you feel most comfortable.
Thanks all, this is exactly the sort of advice I was hoping for, appreciate all the replies.
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