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Opening up, esp during reviews

(2 Posts)
TeaGirl3 Thu 31-Oct-19 23:39:30

Hi, I'm interested to see if anyone else has a similar experience to me, about opening up at work.

As a child, I was very quiet and lacked confidence. I was constantly labelled and called "shy", which probably made it worse. My dad was particularly strict and took the old fashioned approach of not letting me "have the last word" and made me feel as though I couldn't ever speak my true opinion.

Today, when I'm in a work situation like an annual review where I need to talk about myself, I crumble and find it incredibly difficult to open up. I start crying or welling up. Just the thought of it sets me off.

I had a massive confidence dip earlier this year. For no logical reason I could think of, I kept thinking I was awful at my job and wouldn't ever get promoted. I had real imposter syndrome. I'm over this now and feel much happier and confident again. I'm now dreading my annual review in December.

I don't know if this has any link, but I've had an incredibly traumatic three years, which ended last Christmas, with an immediate family member going through two court cases for something they did not do; luckily found not guilty. It was a heart breaking three years and I was in the middle of supporting this person and my parents. I'm not sure if the stress of that experience has had an impact on me this year.

That's a lot of detail, might not be relevant, but just wanted to get it out there.

I was just wondering if anyone else struggles to open up during reviews? Or how they've overcome it? Thanks.

Theresa17 Fri 01-Nov-19 16:15:46

Hi @TeaGirl3
That sounds like you had a pretty rough time over the last few years!
I have not had the exact problem you have, with opening up at work, but I have definitely seen in myself and others how stressful situation in one part of your life can affect your confidence in lots of other areas! Particularly when things are emotionally draining, like your situation certainly was I would expect. There is nothing wrong with you! We all have confidence blibs, often not obviously related to the actual situation it happens in.
There are a couple of things I would recommend trying, I've found them very helpful myself.
One would be, prepare well in advance for the review and write down anything you want to say in bullet points in advance when you feel calm. Then be honest with the person doing the annual review and say you've had a challenging few years and a bit of a confidence blib and although you feel you have worked your way through this now, you still have the occasional wobble. I often find just stating how I feel (e.g. I'm just a bit nervous) makes me feel better and most people are decent and will be absolutely fine with it and try to make you feel comfortable.
Second, start to do some positive visualisation and watch your self-talk. There is lots of information online, but essentially start to visualise the review in as much detail as possible and how you will be all calm, professional and confident in the situation. DO NOT focus on worst case scenarios or what could go wrong. Practice imagining the best case scenario over and over again (ideally at least once a day I would say). Your brain will essentially get used to it and come to regard this as the default situation, so when you get into it, it will simply thing "oh yes, we've done this lots of times, this is how it will go". (This is a very simplistic explanation of course.) Also pay attention to how your inner voice talks about this stuff, and correct yourself when you notice it's being negative (I will screw this up, I can't do it etc etc.). Gently remind yourself this is just that "naughty" inner voice that has no confidence and that you know you might find this a little challenging right now, but that you will do well. Then adjust your self talk to positive statement (this feels odd when you start, don't worry about it). E.g. DON'T say " I won't cry" or "I won't get nervous in the meeting" but instead say things like "I am calm and professional in the meeting" "I can explain my challenges and achievements well" "I become more confident every day"... I know it might sound a little odd and of course find the statements that work for you. But it helps to focus on the positive rather than the negative aspects and can prevent you going into a spiral of panic imagining the worst. Where your focus is, is usually where you end up...
Good luck!

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