The five most common job worries (and how to get over them)

A psychologist has the answer to the greatest fears in the workplace

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Everyone experiences it at some point in their working life, but few are brave enough to do anything about it: the fear of getting fired.

Joan Kingsley, a consultant clinical and organisational therapist, has spent 25 years researching workplace psychology and co-authored a book, 'The Fear-free Organization: Vital Insights from Neuroscience to Transform Your Business Culture'. She said that in her many years of practice, the fear of being fired ranks as the number one fear for employees.

But it’s not the only one. Many younger people also experience a sense of disappointment when work doesn’t live up to their expectations. Graduates start their career in law or finance expecting a high-flying, glamourous life-style, and end up despondent when they are filling in spreadsheets until 2am, Kingsley said. She tells the Independent how to confront the most common workplace fears.

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A very aggressive boss can be very quiet, but able to read body language and manipulate people.

Fear of being fired

"Anybody who works in a fearful environment knows it. You’re feeling anxious about going into work. You have bosses who are bullying and aggressive. It’s not necessarily loud – you can have a very aggressive boss who is very quiet, very able to read body language and manipulate people. In a fearful environment people stop being creative, it becomes more about surviving rather than thriving."

How to deal with it:

"If you trust your boss you could talk to them about your fears. But if you constantly feel stress or under pressure you might want to rethink your job. I work with people who are very happy at work until they get a new manager, and that produces all kinds of anxieties.

"If you work in a healthy organsation but can’t shake this fear, you need to look inside yourself and understand what your personal triggers are. You might have a boss you dislike, but if you dig deep enough, it comes from something else in the past that is triggering something today. The brain is always working on survival and danger, so the brain will respond to perceived threats even if there isn’t really a threat."

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New graduates can experience fear that life will never live up to their expectations.

Fear that you’re never going to make it

"I often see young people who have come into an organisation from university and have had very big expectations and find themselves disappointed with their day to day life. Particularly in the legal profession, mid-to late 20s, many employees have very high ideals. They didn’t go in to law to make money, but at the companies they work for it becomes all about that: the bottom line. They get this fear that life will never live up to their expectations."

How to deal with it:

"When you start working you know nothing. So it’s more about how you approach the world of work and what your attitude is. It’s about using your time constructively to learn a little more every day. Learn how to talk on the phone, learning how to use social media, learn how to think before you act. Reach out to people who are older and choose a mentor. Try to see this as a time of great learning."

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Fear gets results at first, but over time it destroys employees’ sense of self

Fear of being shouted at

"Most people get into their jobs because they’re good at their work. But people often come and speak to me and tell me they have a promotion and they don’t know how to manage people. They can turn to fear because it is an easy way to control people. They get results at first, but over time they destroy employees’ sense of self and ruin their creativity, which is destructive in the long term."

How to deal with it:

"Generally, the best way to deal with anger is to acknowledge it. Look at the person and say that you can see they are angry and that you want to talk about it. As soon as you acknowledge anger, it dissipates.

"But if you’re dealing with a bully, you need to remove yourself from the situation. Leave the room and walk away. Often bosses who run on fear get everyone trusting them and only them. If you see someone being bullied you can try to put together a group of people to help them."

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Employees can feel more included by creating networks of mentors and friends

Fear of being stabbed in the back or passed over for promotion

"You can get in very political situations in organisations. When I was younger I was up for a promotion and I was passed over by a friend who I found out was trying to get the job for herself. I recognised it and addressed it with my boss."

How to deal with it:

"I recommend building relationships. Some people hate team building, but find a common interest with colleagues and start to build networks. Create walking groups. Instead of sitting at your desk, create a walking goup. When you do things like that, you create relationships. Creating networks is essential."

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Tech companies in the US have recognised the importance of taking breaks

Fear of being seen as a slacker

"This has been going on for years! People who are afraid to take a lunch break, which is so bad for you. There’s a new culture that’s happening in organisations run by young people, especially out of tech companies in the US, that has recognised the importance of taking breaks and fostering a healthy work schedule. It's very important."

How to deal with it:

"Most managers are pretty reasonable people. They want people to perform well and work in a harmonious environment. Try and do work that gives you pleasure and that you feel passionate about. Approach projects with curiosity and you might be surprised at what you can do to change the way that you’re feeling. Then you will see work as a challenge rather than a threat."

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