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How can better communication reduce workplace anxiety?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Anxiety is a common problem for many business professionals, especially when they feel like they are not getting timely feedback from their coworkers, boss, or employees. This anxiety can be heightened when a company is not meeting financial goals or after organizational changes like downsizing or restructuring.

Black female executive meeting with Black male executive

Common Sources of Workplace Anxiety.

Senior leaders I work with frequently communicate frustration because their employees do not seem to understand what is important and fail to prioritize and execute the things that would provide the most value to the employees and the company. They harbor anxiety around having difficult conversations about performance and what will happen if employees decide to quit and leave them understaffed.

Conversely, employees I work with frequently feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to focus their attention. Often they think there is a disconnect between the work they are being asked to do, their professional goals, and the company's mission. Occasionally I also hear insecurity around not having the knowledge and skills to do a job and a fear of communicating that insecurity because of the perceived risk of vulnerability.

In both cases, fear and insecurity get in the way of candor. The uncertainty around being honest about needs, expectations, and wants gets in the way of communication and collaboration that would improve business performance and reduce anxiety.

Poor Communication is the Problem

In a world where employees and bosses communicate through emails, texts, messaging apps, group meetings, and one-on-ones, lack of communication is not the root of the problem.

Overcommunication and micro-managing do more to create anxiety in the workplace than nearly any other force. If you want to reduce anxiety and improve effectiveness, it is crucial to identify ways to improve the economy of communication by having less but more effective communication.

How would you describe the level of communication at your workplace?

  • Perfect

  • Under-communication

  • Over-communication

7 Tips for Reducing Workplace Anxiety

Initiate regular check-ins. Having quality one-on-one discussions can go a long way to improving communication. Establishing a regular schedule for discussing current priorities and checking in on needs, expectations, and wants can strengthen relationships and reduce uncertainty.

Using a shared document to capture wins, obstacles, options, and commitments is a great way to ensure both parties are aligned coming out of the meeting.

Be honest and respectful. The people you work with have multiple responsibilities, competing priorities, personal lives, and their own anxieties that they are dealing with. Strive to be clear, direct, and considerate in your communication. Focus on being candid about problems, but also do your best to collaborate on solutions. The better you are at helping the people you work with, the more value they will see in you. When you are kind and helpful to others, they are more likely to mirror those behaviors back to you.

Listen actively. Pay attention to words, tone, and body language. This is especially important if you are on a remote team. Ask questions to clarify and confirm your understanding. If you feel that things are not going well, be direct and ask. Assumptions can be dangerous. Always seek facts.

At the end of conversations, summarize what was discussed to help avoid miscommunication. This is a great way to demonstrate that you care about getting things right and are invested in pursuing alignment.

Be brief. Everyone has limited time and energy. Be considerate of how you use the time that people give you. Before you meet with people, take a moment to determine your purpose in the meeting. Writing down key points or goals for the conversation can be helpful.

Demonstrate gratitude. You will not always receive the information you want to hear during conversations. When you encounter a different perspective or difficult feedback, show gratitude to the person for being candid. Then use the information to learn and grow. Anything that is not of value to you ,disregard it. It is better to be aware of other people's thoughts and perspectives than to be mis or uninformed.

Ask for support when needed. Be vulnerable and communicate what you need to be successful. Hiding problems is never a good long-term solution. When issues are not surfaced, they tend to fester and become more challenging to solve. Identify and communicate issues early, and seek assistance finding solutions.

Seek solutions, not blame. Multiple people are typically involved whenever things do not go as planned at work. Quickly identify why things did not go as planned and identify ways that performance can be improved in the future. There is more to be gained from solving a problem than avoiding being blamed. The heroes of stories are not the ones that make excuses but the ones with the courage to name and take action against a problem.

Putting tips into action

Communication is vital for any successful working relationship. Following these tips can improve communication and trust within your organization.

Now it's time to put them into practice. Start by choosing one tip you that will help you to reduce your anxiety. Then, plan how you will implement it in the next week. For example, you can

  • Start holding one-on-one meetings

  • Communicate an obstacle that you need help with

  • Request training on a new technology that has been challenging for you to use

Whatever action you choose to take, make sure you follow through with it and observe the results. You will be surprised by how much better you feel once you improve communication with the people you work with.


Thank you for reading this blog

Executive Coach Dorian Cunion

Dorian Cunion is an Executive Coach and Business Consultant with Your Path Coaching and Consulting. He is a former retail executive with over 20 years of experience in the retail industry.

He is a Co-Active coach who focuses on helping professionals, and small business owners overcome insecurities, knowledge gaps, and uncertainty. He does this by helping clients to tap into their values, recognize their strengths, and develop actionable strategies for growth.

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