If you suffer from anxiety, then it most likely reveals itself in the workplace. Anxiety can certainly get in the way of maximizing your productivity at work. You may be wondering if you should tell your employer about it. Although disclosing is not required by law, there may be some benefits that come along with it. Other times, disclosing may cause some unintended consequences. Your employers reaction will really depend on your personal work situation and environment. If you have been going back and forth about whether or not to disclose your anxiety, here are a few things to think about which may help you decide what the best decision is given your situation.
1. What will their initial reaction be?
If you've been working at your place of employment for some time, there is a good chance that you will have some sort of relationship with your supervisor. Think about what their personality is like. Are they empathetic? Are they sarcastic and hard headed? Based on what you know about him or her, what do you fell their reaction would be? Before disclosing your personal anxiety struggles, try discussing the topic of anxiety or mental health to see what your bosses reaction might be. This will give you a good indication of whether or not it is safe to proceed with your disclosure.
2. What is your reason for disclosing?
Think about why you want to disclose your anxiety to your employer. Do you feel like it is interfering with your job? Do you feel a source of stress from constantly trying to hide your struggles? Or, maybe you would like to have some special accommodations to help you cope. Knowing your reason for disclosing will help keep you calm and collected if your employer starts asking a lot of questions.
3. What are you going to say?
Whenever you are going to have an important conversation with someone, it's important to be prepared. Practice role playing with yourself in the mirror on how it will go. Be prepared to educate your supervisor on what anxiety is, since they may not really know the extent of how it can impact your job. You also will want to mention that you are proactively seeking help from a professional to keep your anxiety under control (Click here for help with this).
4. What do you expect to gain?
It's important to convey very clearly that your anxiety will not prevent you from completing your job duties. If you do plan on disclosing, make sure you reassure your supervisor that the strengths and what you already bring to the job will not change. Explain your plan of action to manage your anxiety, and have in mind some accommodations that could be made to help you improve your performance since this might be one of the first questions your supervisor asks.
When is the right time to have the conversation?
This is really going to depend on your work environment. Maybe it's during a one on one session, or performance review time when performance is already being discussed? Try to avoid the conversation during a time when your supervisor is stressed out and busy. Whenever you do decide to have the conversation, make sure it is in a private and calm environment, where you have ample time to have a discussion.