Ergophobia is the fear of work. But is waking up in the morning with a fear of going to work, a fear of work itself? It’s far more likely that we are scared of something we might encounter when we get there. This article takes a look at the most common workplace phobias and how to overcome fear at work.
Did you know that a certain amount of fear is good for us? The sense of fight or flight that kicks in when something scares us is a reflex to keep us safe. For example, imagine how you might feel walking along a path at the edge of a steep precipice. Our fear of falling will keep us from away from the edge. If we keep walking, we will become more relaxed with our surroundings, and we feel good once more. Once we acclimatise, the fear becomes exhilaration, and we begin to enjoy the experience thoroughly.
Why we Should Make the Effort to Overcome our Workplace Fears
Of course, we’re unlikely to encounter many steep cliffs at work, but the principle is the same. Pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone can make us more capable in dealing with stress and anxiety in the workplace. Exposing ourselves little by little to our fears can help us to overcome them and lead to a more satisfying work-life.
Research proves that the opposite is also true. Every time we bow down to workplace stress and instead choose to avoid it, we give our fear more power over us. So by repeatedly avoiding confronting your fear, a tiny issue can become seemingly impassable over time. For some, that fear can become a phobia.
The Most Common Workplace Phobias
There is a difference between a phobia and fear. Where both trigger an emotional response, the response to a phobia is so debilitating that it interferes with the sufferer’s ability to function in everyday life. So for example, the fear of having a response to a phobia in our job may make us feel petrified of the idea of going to work at all.
- Glossophobia — Fear of presenting
- Phonophobia — Fear of being shouted at
- Atelophobia — Fear of not being good enough
- Erratophobia — Fear of making mistakes
- Atychiphobia — Fear of failure
- Telephonophobia — Fear of talking on the phone
Five Questions To Help You Overcome Workplace Fears
As we have seen above, sometimes when we feel so overwhelmed by fear, pinpointing the source of it can be challenging. Even the thought of owning up to what’s causing the anxiety can be stressful. On the other hand, understanding the benefits of overcoming fear can motivate you to want to do something about it.
If you’re ready to give it a go, try writing down your answers to the following questions:
1 — What are you scared of?
Owning up to what you’re scared can be tough, but it’s the first hurdle to finding a cure. So if you can’t put your finger on the source of your fear, repeatedly asking why can help you understand.
For example, let’s consider Hannah, who has been stuck at the same level since she started in her job five years ago. Hannah has lots of friends at work, but one by one she has seen them get promoted or accept fantastic job offers around her.
Hannah’s first thought might be: I’m scared of going to work.
So she asks herself why? Because I’m embarrassed that everyone around me is overtaking me.
Why? Because the thought of putting myself forward for a promotion frightens me.
Why? Because being a manager would mean leading team meetings and I have a fear of failing in front of all my work colleagues.
2 — What experience first made you feel this way?
Hannah had an awful experience delivering her first talk in front of her class at high school. She was so scared that she missed out a chunk of content. In trying to make sense of her presentation, Hannah completely went to pieces and ran out of class in tears.
Hannah’s answer: I’m scared that I’ll make a mistake and feel so embarrassed that I’ll want to cry and run out of the room.
3 — How is not dealing with your fear negatively affecting your life?
Not dealing with our fears can put all sorts of obstacles in the way of us achieving our goals. This can, in turn, block the way to our happiness. Moreover, staying stuck in a negative place can affect our mental health.
Unfortunately, some people allow themselves to stay stuck in a rut for years because they are unable to see a way out. Being able to recognise what your fear is blocking you from achieving can help you to get unstuck.
Hannah’s answer: Not being able to lead team meetings is holding me back from getting a promotion.
4 — What will you gain by overcoming your fear?
When all we can feel is the emotional effect of the fear, our instinct tells us to remain under our security blanket where it’s nice and safe. However, once we understand the benefits of facing our fear, we feel motivated to want to overcome it.
Hannah’s answer: Increased confidence, the respect of my colleagues and a massive pay rise!
5 — Who can you ask for help in overcoming your fear?
Asking for help is often seen as a weakness, but how many of us would ever learn anything if we didn’t ask for help?
We also often underestimate people’s willingness to help. Surprisingly, most people are happy to offer help if they can because it gives them a sense of purpose. Our assumption that they won’t want to assist us is our own projection of our fear of rejection.
Hannah’s answer: I’ll ask my friend who recently accepted a job offer for a Marketing Manager’s position how she deals with delivering presentations.
A Few Final Thoughts on Overcoming Your Fears at Work
We spend two-thirds of our waking lives at work, so we owe it to ourselves to make the best of it while we’re there. While overcoming workplace phobias may seem like the biggest obstacle to overcome, making an effort to is the key to building confidence and achieving success.
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