Dear Coleen: I’m upset that my new workmates find me intimidating

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Coleen Nolan I’m worried about returning after the Christmas break in case I’ll constantly be second-guessing myself at work (Photo: The Image Bank)

I started a job in September and recently went to the office Christmas do. I had a great time, but when speaking to everyone a common theme kept coming up – they all think I’m intimidating.

I can come across as being confident, but actually I suffer with anxiety and overthink pretty much everything.

So as a result of these comments, I find I am now second-guessing myself on everything.

I feel there are many sides to me and I don’t want to come across as arrogant or intimidating as I’ve met that type of person and haven’t liked them.

Another thing is my sister used to work at my office and she was loved by everyone and, in hindsight, I feel I shouldn’t have gone for the role as I am forever walking in her footsteps.

However, it was a great chance to further my career and I think the people at work are lovely, but they don’t seem to know me at all and have a distorted view of who I am and what I’m about.

I’m worried about returning after the Christmas break in case I’ll constantly be second-guessing myself at work. I’d hate to think people didn’t like me.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Coleen says

First of all, I think you need to stop worrying about your sister and comparing yourself to her. Perhaps trying too hard to compete with her is partly why you’re coming across like this.

Also, if you’re actually quite an anxious person inside, then the way you behave sounds more like bravado to cover up your anxiety rather than confidence or arrogance.

When people say you’re confident or even intimidating, why not admit that you’re actually quite an anxious person? Let them see the real you.

However, I think if people have been honest enough to tell you this, then it doesn’t do any harm to listen and think about it. And I think it’s particularly relevant in a work situation – why not take it on board and try to work on it?

Checking yourself before you say something doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. Just think to yourself, “Am I saying this in the right way”, or “How could I say this non-aggressively?”.

This doesn’t mean you can’t say how you feel – it’s more about saying it in the right way. How you say something is just as crucial as what you say.

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