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To think I am making my colleagues uncomfortable and don't know what to do about it!

(100 Posts)
imtooquiet Fri 22-Nov-19 17:04:33

I have quite bad social anxiety and have started a new job a month ago. The organisation is fairly large but in my office there are only 2 other people. There is a lot of calling people in other departments and speaking to senior management which although I do, makes me really uncomfortable.

As my 2 colleagues chat away together, I struggle to join in the conversation and thus I am really quiet. I mean very quiet. I find it hard to just start a random convo when it's all quiet.

I fear that they think I'm really incompetent and probably wish they could have their old colleague back whom I replaced.

They have tried to talk to me a bit but my answers are really rubbish e.g what are you doing on the weekend and I just say oh nothing exciting. They ask this every week and I honestly don't do anything apart from house cleaning, laundry and catching up with kids homwrork etc. I dread the question every bloody week!

I'm really sad that they feel uncomfortable around me and I honestly want to be more chatty and confident but I can't. I freeze and my mind goes blank and it's honestly the worst thing. I hate myself for being this way.

Purpleartichoke Fri 22-Nov-19 17:07:06

Your colleagues should realize that they are at work to work. If they are chatting away, they either have very easy jobs or they aren’t focusing on their work.

RedHelenB Fri 22-Nov-19 17:09:23

Stop focusing on yourself. Honestly they are just making small talk they wont ge wasting their head space analysing you in the way you're analysing yourself.

AndysFavouriteToy Fri 22-Nov-19 17:10:53

Can you prepare one or two standard answers, conversation starters?

motherheroic Fri 22-Nov-19 17:11:07

@RedHelenB Not true though is it. Many people can do two things at once.

PurpleWithRed Fri 22-Nov-19 17:14:12

If you know the question is coming prep a slightly more interesting answer, Maybe something about what the kids do at the weekend, or have a question ready in return about what they are doing at the weekend?

altiara Fri 22-Nov-19 17:14:13

Just make sure you don’t just answer but always ask them back the same question and act interested.
Would acting interested in someone else’s answers make you less anxious? A bit of fake it until you make it. They might have some interesting hobby that hooks you in smile

newnameforthis76 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:14:19

I sympathise because I also struggle a bit with small talk. I'm actually quite talkative in a lot of situations, but I'm not great at making conversation with people I don't know and I dread having to chat about random stuff with the hairdresser or whatever because I find it hard to know what to say.

What is useful is asking them questions when they ask you things. So when they ask you what you're doing at the weekend, it's fine to say nothing much, but you can add 'How about you? Have you got any exciting plans?' and keep the conversation going that way. The more you find out about their lives and so on, the easier it will be to talk to them. And it's polite to show an interest in other people anyway.

eg 'What are you doing this weekend?'
'Oh, not much really - running around after the kids mostly. How about you - have you got anything nice planned?'
'Nothing major, might do a bit of Christmas shopping.'
'Have you got much to get? I do all mine online these days...' etc etc

It's not that exciting but the more you get to know people the easier it gets.

As an aside, if your social anxiety is so bad that it's making you constantly nervous and anxious at work, you might to consider seeing the GP. Have you ever had CBT or any other type of therapy? Or medication?

Moltenpink Fri 22-Nov-19 17:14:25

Maybe expand a bit on what you’re doing eg cleaning... oh I have to clean the oven and I really hate it, groan... seriously, people will talk about any old shite at work. What you’re having for dinner is always a winning topic.

Learning small talk, like anything in life, gets easier with practice.

newnameforthis76 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:16:24

Your colleagues should realize that they are at work to work. If they are chatting away, they either have very easy jobs or they aren’t focusing on their work.

You seem fun.

Nobody in my office has 'very easy jobs' and we are all productive and get a lot done. We still have conversations at various points throughout the day, because we're human beings rather than robots and our workplace is a nice, friendly place to be.

Trewser Fri 22-Nov-19 17:18:06

Ask them about themselves.

newbingepisodes Fri 22-Nov-19 17:18:48

@Purpleartichoke glad I don't work with you! People can work and have friendly conversations in an office. Sometimes you can actually even be friends with the people you work with .... shocker!

gottagetbetter7 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:19:44

After you say "nothing exciting" ask them what they are doing at the weekend and show a good interest in that by asking a couple of extra questions about what they are doing/who with etc. Focus will then be on them (they obviously enjoy chatting so should be no problem) and you will build up a gradual picture of their lives that may help you have some input into their conversations at other times. But I agree try not to over analyse it.

Guiltypleasures001 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:20:13


Op would you feel,comfortable with emailing them both and being very honest about your issues and how you fear it effects their opinion of you?

They might be relieved you have opened up to them, and make kind allowances

Not everyone's an ogre, it could be quite helpful to you 💐

HonestTeacher Fri 22-Nov-19 17:22:15

I used to feel the same and worried that others thought I was really boring. I've learnt though that most other people love talking about themselves. Flip their questions back and listen to them talk about themselves. What they like doing, what holidays they are going on, their recommendations for local restaurants etc.

BackforGood Fri 22-Nov-19 17:23:13

You're overthinking how much they are interested in your answer, I suspect.
However, as others have said, if they regularly ask what you're doing at the weekend, then you can think, in advance of something you might be doing that can give you a slightly longer answer.

"Oh, dc1 has a swimming lesson early on Saturday mornings - I hate getting up early, particularly in the Winter. How about you?"

"Best start thinking about doing some Christmas shopping. Have you started yet?"

"I'm stuck in the house mostly - still, it's the final of Strictly / I'm a Celebrity / my Favourite Sport World Cup / Last episode of that drama I've been watching / etc - so I'm looking forward to that. Do you watch it ?"

etc etc

or, Think of some 'chit chat' questions you can ask them, so it is a bit more two way, and they don't feel they are always the ones asking you things.

imtooquiet Fri 22-Nov-19 17:23:35

I have been to the gp and went for CBT which unfortunately was useless for me. I'm currently working with a hypnotherapist as I have become so desparate to help myself. Ive only had 2 sessions and it's not helped me yet though I'm not really expecting any improvement so soon.

My anxieties come from my childhood. Very very young. It's so deep rooted in my core that I don't know where to start. It affects so many areas of my life and work is one of the biggest issues I have. Almost every day I feel like handing my notice in. I can't bare it. I honestly don't mean to be rude and would be devastated if that's what they think I am but it would be my fault if they did.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 22-Nov-19 17:28:31

Bless you OP.
So when they ask what your plans are for the weekend - tell them.
Exactly have you have told us.
'Oh you know how it is!? Loads of washing to catch up on. Kids stuff. Homework, which I have no clue about but pretend I do, haha, etc.......'
It's about elaborating on what you say.
I've no personal experience of anxiety so I really can't imagine what it's like.
Can you tell them about your anxiety? Is that something you could do?
They may understand if you explain it to them.
But you may not be able to do that.
I've no idea how it works.
I do feel for you though. It must be very tough to live with.

SaveKevin Fri 22-Nov-19 17:28:41

Yes talk about lunch and dinners. I’ve spent probably years of my working life talking about food!!!
I also used to take treats in and always make coffees etc.

Your doing so well with the phone, i would struggle with that.

imtooquiet Fri 22-Nov-19 17:29:14

I've had quite a few training sessions like induction etc and I just see others who just chatting away to the person next to them that they've only just met ten minutes ago. I dread doing the group work and introducing myself. I feel so embarrassed that I don't have such basic and vital social skills.

Even when I've tried talking I just feel the conversation just runs dry really quickly. I am so tense and nervous that my voice sounds so weird coming out. It's not the voice I have at home. I hate it.

gottagetbetter7 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:31:50

That sounds very tough OP, well done to you for getting the job and I really hope you can continue with it.
If things are so bad it might be worth letting your colleagues know as GuiltyPleasures001 suggested, certainly worth a shot before resigning if it does come to that.

northerngirl2012 Fri 22-Nov-19 17:34:02

I meet new people all the time in my job and small talk is part of making people feel comfortable.

If you've got any small anecdotes that happened over the weekend, then tell them. Lost the dog on a walk, kid sick on stairs, food shop late, anything they'll find interesting about you.

You don't have to give much away but telling people what you've seen on Netflix, sharing a radio programme, music anything you like they'll probably like too.

Just chat about whatever comes into your head.

Lovemenorca Fri 22-Nov-19 17:37:27

If you don’t like talking about yourself then do a quick respond “oh nothing exciting” and then flip it back to them “what about you? Hopefully more exciting than mine!”

As an aside though - you should try to incorporate something interesting / exciting / different in to your life every now and again. For yourself though, not to just have something to talk about!

imtooquiet Fri 22-Nov-19 17:38:34

gottagetbetter7 I honestly don't know how I got the job. They must have had some bad candidates to have picked me.

By the end of the day I am exhausted due to the anxiety and tension. The job is super easy and no stress at all but I work my body up every day with anxiety.

I couldn't bare to tell my colleagues. I haven't told a soul about how I struggle except my DH and obviously the therapists. I am utterly ashamed and embarrassed by being like this. I will have an appraisal in a few months and I honestly think they will let me go.

Yarboosucks Fri 22-Nov-19 17:39:29

Do you like your colleagues? Do they seem nice and pleasant? If so, why not take some cakes or biscuits in, say I know I am not very chatty, I am very shy. Then they will understand and will probably try and accommodate you.

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