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Helping employees beat workplace performance anxiety

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Kate Walker Miles, Tutor and Client Manager at RADA Business, provides insight into why anxiety is prevalent among business people in the workplace.

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UK businesses are failing to fully recognise employees’ anxieties around communicating in the workplace. This has a negative effect on individual performance, team morale and employee wellbeing – all of which impact businesses’ bottom line. New data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)  reports that in 2017 there were around 526,000 workers in the UK who suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

We recently published the Beating Workplace Performance Anxiety report, surveying 1,000 employees around the UK. We found that full-time employees feel anxious at least once a week (five times per month), on average.

Manchester came out as one of the cities where anxiety around communicating in the workplace is more prevalent – with insufficient support provided to teams. 1 in 5 workers admitted to being less productive and the same number confessed to having called in sick to avoid anxiety-inducing situations.

Currently, only 13% of employees in Manchester feel that issues around communicating at work are picked up and resolved by their management team. What can businesses do to change this?

Employees said that managers can help by giving real praise for a job well done. They also want time to prepare when faced with a stressful task, such as leading a meeting, presenting in front of colleagues or meeting a tight deadline: two simple yet effective fixes for most businesses. To make this work, a commitment to modelling clear and impactful communication across the business is imperative.

So what would we recommend? Techniques used for training actors at RADA can help the entire workforce communicate better, reducing anxiety and creating personal resilience.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the triggers that cause any physical signs of workplace performance anxiety such as shortness of breath or a racing heart, so you can act effectively. This will help you to understand the challenge and think about how best to respond positively.

Once you have identified the triggers, you can make some small shifts to create a positive impact. Give yourself permission to take your space and take your time. This will tell others around you that you respect yourself and you respect them. Take your time to breathe and plan what you are going to stay before speaking. A few seconds to prepare your thought will have a huge impact: you will feel more at ease and you will earn your audience’s trust. Sit or stand up straight and release any held tension, which is likely to convey nervousness. By holding your space, you can effectively deliver your message with greater ease.

As well as using space, it’s vital to make a connection when communicating. Maintaining eye contact will help you to connect with people in the room, so you can communicate your message clearly – helping it to land with impact. This is an effective way to engage with your audience and to build trust.

For most of us, breathing becomes shallow and snatched when under pressure. We feel and appear out of control, and our speech loses power and clarity. Taking time to breathe fully before speaking helps us to appear confident and capable. It gives strength to our voice, helping us to clearly express our thoughts and present the best version of our self.

By applying these techniques, you can build your confidence and tackle workplace performance anxiety effectively. Implementing them into a work environment can hone your communication skills and build resilience in challenging situations.

 To learn more about RADA Business please visit www.radabusiness.com.


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