Many people deal with fear and intimidation from co-workers at work

Identifying Fear In the Workplace

Fear-based work environments are the opposite of other friendly and trusting work environments, where tasks easily get completed. Trauma-induced fear in the workplace manifests itself in different ways. It often shows up in the form of anxiety. This feeling of worry can stem from past traumatic experiences but roll over into the work environment when individuals are pressured or expected to continue to show up and give their all at work, even if they are still processing their traumas. A big part of this still showing up and being present at work is due to fear.

Individuals continue to come to work out of fear of losing their jobs. Individuals also continue to give their all and devote so much energy to their jobs even when they are not feeling that same positive and motivational energy in their personal lives. This is due to a fear of failure on the job and the consequences associated with it. This immense amount of effort and imbalance in energies being put into work versus personal care can often lead to burnout. 

These fear-based work environments often consist of employees solely focused on completing all of their daily goals. Some fear-based work environments may even consist of employees who are too afraid to make a mistake, question authority, provide their insights and opinions, or even speak up for themselves in general due to this fear stemming from past traumatic events. 

Fear Taking Over The Individual

Trauma develops from distressing events, and if not dealt with properly afterwards, it can have detrimental effects on an individual physically, emotionally, and mentally. When an individual is traumatized, they begin to live in a state of constant and intensified fear.

Traumatized individuals may return to work after traumatic experiences and immediately begin to navigate their workspace in a very fearful and timid manner. For instance, an individual may be avoiding or poorly responding to constructive criticism at work. This can look like skipping work meetings, not responding to emails, or even avoiding specific co-workers and supervisors. These are also signs of being afraid of confrontation at work. Individuals can be asked simple questions by bosses or co-workers that may result in unexpected or unaddressed panic attacks.

Trauma survivors, in general, have an overall fear of reliving their past traumas. To avoid going through these events again, survivors naturally attempt to protect themselves. Coming from a place of protection, trauma survivors may abstain from engaging in confrontation, criticism or feedback, larger crowds or gatherings, or anything else that could trigger a negative response or outcome that is similar in any way to the past traumas an individual has experienced. 

Tips for Managing Fear In the Workplace

Here are some helpful tips to practice coping with fear and intimidation at work in a healthy way.

  • Communicate: Creating a safe work environment that fosters clear and open communication professionally can help make employees more comfortable, especially when dealing with trauma. 
  • Training and Development: Employees can offer training developed to target emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion, conflict resolution training, and more, to prepare employees for their real-life scenarios at work. 
  • Recognition: When employers recognize employees for accomplishing certain goals, completing tasks early, or just overall going above and beyond and continuously showing up at work ready to go, it reassures employees that they are doing something right, and it can help ease the pressure and burden of so many fears.
  • Self-Care and Stress Management: When recognition at work fails, give it to yourself outside of work. Practicing self-care not only increases confidence, which helps eliminate some fears, but it also helps you balance work life and personal life. Incorporating stress management into your self-care can also help reduce fear by managing anxiety. 

Reference: From Taylor Griggs’s Blog