Company directors face highest rates of anxiety around communicating at work

Rebecca Smith
The study found networking and pitching caused senior directors uncertainty about their performance at work
The study found networking and pitching caused senior directors uncertainty about their performance at work (Source: Getty)

Those in senior positions are prone to experiencing "workplace performance anxiety" than in any other role, according to a new study by RADA in Business.

The commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art works, which works with UK firms to transfer actor training techniques like improvisation to the workplace, surveyed 1,000 firms.

It found that despite their authority, senior directors feel workplace anxiety an average of 10 times per month, twice the national average across the UK workforce.

The report found that the biggest issue for directors was around communicating, affecting 94 per cent of those surveyed. Just under 40 per cent of senior directors cited networking with new business prospects and pitching as the situations where they feel the most uncertain about their performance.

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Meanwhile, nearly a third said they were nervous about their ideas being shot down or being talked over, and the same percentage said they were worried about people thinking less of them.

Second to directors for workplace performance anxiety were junior members of staff, with 92 per cent reporting the effects of anxiety around communicating. Most said the pressure to make an impact, in scenarios such as moving to a more senior role, or presenting to colleagues, was the main reason for their feelings of anxiety.

Claire Dale, tutor at RADA in Business, said: “Businesses looking to direct training towards tackling stage fright and feelings of anxiety when communicating in the workplace should focus first on the lowest and highest levels within their organisations."

She added:

In the same way an actor does before a performance, those in senior or leadership positions can benefit from making small but powerful shifts in their behaviour before facing a situation that triggers communication anxiety.

This could involve grounding themselves through changes in their body language and stance, improving their physical presence and gravitas, or controlling their breath to create greater vocal power.

Read more: These are the least stressed workers in the county

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