Fear of Rejection: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about fear of rejection on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Do you have a fear of being rejected? How might that affect your behavior at work?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Pandemic-Related Social Phobia: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 8

Kathi and Katherine talk about social phobia on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

What are some signs of pandemic-related social phobia and how can you combat it?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Do You Have Staff Who Are Afraid to Return to the Office?

In just a matter of days, the coronavirus pushed people inside their homes, accelerating a digital transformation around the world.

Getting workers out of their homes and back into offices is going to prove harder. According to a new survey by researchers at India-based workplace services firm Ionotrics and San Diego–based Global Workplace Analytics:

77 percent of the workforce wants to continue to work from home at least part of the time once the pandemic is over. That’s up from 60 percent one month ago. That’s a 132 percent increase from before the coronavirus crisis, according to the Work-from-Home Experience Survey in which more than 2,600 employees from around the world participated.

As the country is opening up, employees are faced with a decision – do they go back to the office or not? Many of my clients are telling me that members of their staff are fearful about returning. Compassion still reigns. You may have to consider each person, and the factors that they are grappling with. If you have a staff member who fits into any of the following categories, their return will most likely be delayed:

  • They have kids at home who need home schooling
  • They have underlying health concerns
  • They are over the age of 60
  • They live in a metro city and use public transportation

In some states, employees who fit into one of these categories may qualify for unemployment – if they must return to the office and are not able to. Other employees most likely need reassurance and to be listened to. It’s important to calm nerves and listen to staff concerns. Here are some guiding principles:

  • Ask your staff what they need in order to return to the office safely.
  • Plan and communicate how you are preparing the office for their return
    • Cleaning – Describe your ongoing plan for keeping the office clean from Covid 19
    • Spacing – Follow the CDC’s guidelines for distance in the office
    • Wearing facemasks and gloves – Will you be supplying them or do they need to bring their own?
    • Rotating schedules – 2 days in, 2 days at home. Think low capacity
      commuting before or after rush hours.
    • Change in dress code – I’m going to predict that the workplace is about to get really casual
  • Take it slow. 

Coming out of the cave after a long winter, a bear needs time to acclimate. You may want to start with visiting the office ahead of opening, and encouraging your staff to do the same. Then try two days the first week and see how it goes.

  • Offer emotional support if possible. 

Professional coaches, therapists and clergy can talk to your staff about their mental health. It will pay off in the long run.

  • Be transparent about possible layoffs, furloughs or job eliminations. No surprises please, let them prepare.
  • Have real communication about diversity.  

Create guidelines for behavior in these conversations, and have a moderator who keeps the conversation constructive. Offer books and movies as resources. Have conversations that allow staff to express their fear, pain, and anger. This kind of sharing can be extremely emotional, so make sure you to have professional support around it.

  • Practice People Over Profit  

Sure, we are working to earn money, and companies must be profitable to hire people, and I know that in some industries robots will replace people. Given this reality, how can you make the workplace a desirable and safe place so that people want to work for you? 

Please let us know how the transition back to the office works for you and your company.

Kathi Elster – Executive Coach and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Anxious About Re-entry to the Office?

Re-entry anxiety, it’s a real phenomenon. While one part of you may be eager to get back into the world to experience a semi-normal life, another part of you may be petrified. Going back to the office, venturing outdoors, visiting with friends – all of these activities that used to be automatic can now spark waves of fear and anxiety. 

Why? Because your mind has gotten used to a certain way of living during the pandemic that feels safe and under your control.  Sheltering in place may be confining, but it is predictable. You know exactly what is coming into and what is going out of your environment. You know how to safely manage your life.

Re-entry adds a range of new ingredients – especially other people – that can literally feel hazardous to your health.

So how do we handle our fear of re-entering?

  • Acknowledge that re-entry anxiety is understandable and real. It’s the outcome of sheltering in place in a safe environment that you can control. Going outside of that environment will naturally spark some fear.
  • Identify your specific fears. If you are someone who is physically vulnerable to the virus, you may fear contracting it because of more exposure to more people. If you are someone who is generally anxious, your anxiety may be heightened due to anticipatory anxiety. Are you afraid of large crowds? Confined spaces? Returning to work in general? Public transportation? Identify the specifics so that you can address them.
  • Once you know the fears, talk about them with others. Better to voice your anxiety than to hold it in. You can do this with a sympathetic friend, a family member, or a hired professional. You may want to consult a physician if you have specific medical concerns or psychological counselor if the anxiety feels debilitating. 
  • Construct a plan to re-enter that is cautious and gradual. The treatment for anxiety is not to stay locked in. It is to slowly, carefully expose yourself to more experiences so that you can find a way to re-enter your former life. You want to respect the anxiety without letting it hold you hostage.
  • If your re-entry anxiety involves work, talk it over with your employer. Many companies are eager to discuss re-entry with their staff and to construct a plan that can help them feel safe. Perhaps you can create a reduced schedule or minimal commuting for the time being.
  • Keep doing the activities and routines that you find nourishing. While sheltering in place, have you enjoyed cooking? Do you have an exercise routine that gives you energy? Is there a creative pastime (drawing, singing, dancing) that you’ve put into practice? Those activities can be grounding and soothing to you as you begin to re-enter your former life.

One more thing, if part of what you fear involves returning to a competitive workplace or working endless hours, you may want to consider some longer-range changes. Do you need to re-design your job? Do you need to look for a different work situation altogether? You may not be ready to make any immediate changes, but you can begin to contemplate the kind of work life and home life that will ultimately work for you.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

Managing Our Brain’s Response To Uncertainty

As our world, our country, our states, our towns, and our communities work hard to address the many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, each of us has another internal challenge that requires our constant attention – How do we manage living with so much uncertainty? 

It’s one thing to be unsure about tomorrow’s weather or the time of a flight arrival, but the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings is over the top. We don’t know when the economy will get going again, when or if we will return to our former workplaces, whether we will have a second wave of the virus, what will happen to cities that re-open prematurely, how schools will function. The list of unknowns is daunting.

In an article titled, Science Explains Why Uncertainty Is So Hard on Our Brain, writer Markham Heid explains why we human beings struggle with uncertainty. Apparently, fear of uncertainty (AKA fear of the unknown) is one of strongest fears that human beings have. It is at the root of many anxiety disorders, panic attacks and depressed states.

Uncertainty is a disruptor. It interrupts the brain’s routine and habitual thoughts, assumptions, and decision-making processes. Uncertainty makes planning difficult and creates a sense of danger or foreboding. Tasked with trying to figure out what will happen next, the brain kicks into high gear. It generates survival-oriented mental processes such as hyper-vigilance, emotional reactivity, catastrophic thinking and obsessive worry. 

What helps the brain manage uncertainty? Anything that takes it (and you) out of worry, obsession, emotional reactivity, and catastrophic thinking. Anything that puts it (and you) in the present moment.   

Plan for the day – not for the year. Jot down manageable goals of things that you can accomplish here and now (or over the next few days) that will make you feel a sense of accomplishment and control. Examples: clean one room, clear out one closet, reconcile your bank account, put away your clothes, fix something that’s broken, start one creative project, plan a Zoom get-together. 

Focus on the things you can influence, not the things you can’t. You can’t control which states open their businesses at what point in time. You can’t control whether your industry is going through a rough time. You can look for opportunities to reconfigure your work life in a way that makes more sense to you. Look for where your power lies, and focus there.

Slow down. This may sound silly. Why would you want to slow down when your brains tells you to hurry up? Because slowing down will help you manage uncertainty from a clearer, calmer place. Worry, anxiety and obsessive thinking do not help with uncertainty. Being present does. Slowing down may mean that you stop, breathe, and enjoy the breakfast you’re eating. It could involve watching the birds outside your window as they fly and perch. Slowing down may mean you take just a few minutes to practice meditation every morning, or it could entail a break from work where you breathe slowly and deeply three times. The idea is to slow your system down enough to reduce the chatter in your brain. 

Limit your intake of news. Afraid of what could lie ahead, the brain projects gloomy hypotheticals and worse case scenarios. It then looks for confirmation. News outlets often feed into that anxiety with their attempts at predicting future events. Studies show that too much information overwhelms the brain, leaving it confused and distressed. Try to put strict limits on the amount of news that you ingest. It will improve your ability to manage uncertainty.

Living with this degree of uncertainty is challenging for everyone. Appreciating that our brains have trouble with the unknown can inspire us to manage the anxiety and emotional reactivity that comes with the many unknown outcomes of the current pandemic.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises

Contact us at info@mycrazyoffice.co for any further help around this topic.

#39: When Fear Stops You – My Crazy Office, Season 6

Kathi and Katherine talk about fear on this week’s episode of the My Crazy Office podcast.

First we give advice about how to handle a coworker who invokes fear and intimidation in you.

Then we discuss what to do when fear stops you from functioning at work.

Learning To Say “No”: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 6

Kathi and Katherine talk about learning to say “no” on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Are you able to say “no” at work when you need to?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.

Fearful Beliefs & Self-Fulfilling Prophesies: My Crazy Office Overtime, Season 6

Kathi and Katherine talk about fearful beliefs on this week’s My Crazy Office Overtime show.

Are your fearful beliefs preventing you from success at work?

Listen to this week’s podcast here.