Anxiety ruins my work introductions when meeting new ppl - tips anyone?

Hi there,

This has been an ongoing issue for me, but doesn’t always happen every time. I have anxiety and one of the issues I have is when doing “introductions” as in, introducing myself professionally to others, especially if they’re people I don’t know, I will flip flop over my words and mentally have a melt down. I find that if I’m expecting introductions, sometimes I can prepare for them and jot down notes so I don’t look like a total fool.

However, that doesn’t always work, especially if I’m caught off guard and know an introduction is coming (on a skype meeting for example), and I jot notes, those minutes until the baton is passed to me, I am freaking out! Of course trying not to show it on my face but yeah…

So I just had one of those meeting intros where I feel like I made a total fool of myself, and compared to the rest of my co-workers, I feel like it makes me look less reliable as a developer because I can’t even get words out of my mouth like wth… Once the intro is over, my face gets hot and I’m trying to do all I can to disguise it and also ignore the “OMG now they all hate you” voice in my head and I hope everyone has instant amnesia and wipes my horrible introduction from their minds as the meeting progresses. It can continue to bother me for the rest of the day and at worse, days at a time. It really affects my confidence - or is it confidence that’s affecting me? Chicken or the egg?

Either way, any helpful tips for getting better at these introductions, especially when I’m not expecting them with people I don’t know? I don’t want my anxiety to give the wrong impression about my work or professionalism. Thanks so much in advance for any advice. :slight_smile:

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Oof, do I identify. The hot face, the tongue-tied-ness.

Less so currently as I’m not in situations that often where an introduction is necessary but there was a period of time where I had one memorized. It was succinct and covered the basics which made it good for a variety of scenarios. Maybe something like that to recite from rote?

I like to think for intros, we’re all just over thinking it.

I have a pre written intro. Same for every company. I keep it short, i.e. I’m from x and my goal in my career has been y, maybe with a few sprinkles of specific places I worked at or hobbies I enjoy. I also suffer from intense anxiety.

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That’s true haha but the nature of anxiety is to overthink everything. :slight_smile: Having one memorized sounds like a good idea. I’ll write a short one down and will have to repeat it out loud until I can say it as effortlessly as my phone number. Thanks for the tip.

Yep sounds like that’s what I’ll have to do. Write a short one and memorize it. Will do. Thanks!

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I totally get what you’re saying. I find it difficult to introduce myself too mostly because my mind goes blank and I almost forget what I do. Working in a start-up is difficult often because you end up with a multi-role job which doesn’t help.

Over time, I’ve realised that as a person with social anxiety we have a tendency to overthink and overanalyse every thing that we say. Most of the time the person we’re conversing with really doesn’t care that much about what you say. It’s more about the point of what you’re saying for them.

I’m still trying to work out how to get better at talking to people but personally what’s worked recently is simply striking up conversations with strangers. It’s really hard but I’ve had some good conversations which has made me realise that not everyone is judgemental.

Yep that’s true, when I feel like I’ve made a fool out of myself, I can dwell on it for days and I’m sure the others in the conversation have completely forgotten. I know it’s mostly all in my head, but it still manages to trip me up. Talking to strangers sounds terrifying haha I did that once last code conference I attended. I felt like I was having a heart attack, but afterwards, proud that I made it through. Thanks for the tips and for sharing.

This sounds really hard. Good for you for continuing to put yourself out there with introductions! I believe some cognitive behavioral techniques might help lessen the anxiety leading up to and following an anxiety-provoking introduction. Your brain has some strongly wired pathways around this. Listen to the stories you hear in your head when you are approaching an introduction or directly following it. (Listen objectively and without judgement). If you are hearing “this is going to go horribly; Im going to blow this…etc” these are the stories that you can “reframe” to work better in your favor. That is, creating new neural pathways that tell a different story such as, “this is hard, and Ill get through it” or even a more confident “I can do this.” And replacing the “I blew it” stories after the event with “that went ok, it will go even better next time.” If you can force your neurons down these alternative pathways, it will decrease the strength of the automatic pathways you are experiencing and eventually, with practice, will replace them. These are solid techniques that have been researched for decades and are found to be really effective with social anxiety. With practice and intention, I believe your introductions will improve!

{Disclaimer: I am a professional psychologist/doctor. I volunteer for OSMI. I am not soliciting clients, taking referrals from this forum, or offering treatment. My participation in this forum is to offer professional input to be considered with the range of responses and support offered by fellow developers.}

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Thank you! I’m gonna try that. I did read years ago that we can rewire our own brains like if you thought negative a lot, you can train yourself to be more positive, and it inspired me to make a “3 things a day” journal where I write 3 things I’m grateful for or make me happy. It has worked over time to keep me more mindful and positive and I never thought to use the same technique for social and professional situations. I’m gonna give it a try. Thank you.

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