Managing Your WFH Paranoia - Deepstash

It can be hard to interpret body language, facial expressions, and the nuances of feedback from a distance. And spending time alone in your home office can render you stuck in your own head, replaying mental loops.

To stop irrational suspicion in its track you can: proactively set expectations with your colleagues around communication style, beware of scope creep, depersonalize other’s actions, and compartmentalize your anxieties.

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What Is WFH Paranoia?

Paranoia is a state of fear in which a person misinterprets ambiguous situations, seeing negative meanings, and potential threats.

In other words, paranoia causes you to irrationally scrutinize yourself and the behavior of others. You become hypervigilant, on the lookout for disapproval or rejection that there’s no concrete proof for.

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Make Expectations Explicit

To head off erroneous assumptions and misinterpretations, proactively set expectations with your manager, colleagues, and stakeholders around communication style, how decisions will be made, etc

  • make a list of working agreements that specify guidelines for positive collaboration (reply to messages within 24 hours, listen with an open mind, speak on behalf of yourself, etc.).
  • complete a “user manual” that outlines factors like your work hours, how you learn best, and things you struggle with.

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Beware Of Scope Creep

Paranoia can lead you to people-please and overextend yourself. You may find yourself overly involved in initiatives to maintain an illusion of control.

  • Audit your schedule! Look for meetings you can eliminate or cancel.
  • Consider delegating attendance to a direct report or collaborator who can take notes and report back to you.

Cutting the cord in this way should feel uncomfortable. If it does, then you’re on the right track to improving your tolerance for ambiguity and changing your relationship with fear.

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Depersonalize Others’ Actions

If you’re a sensitive striver, then your empathy levels are likely off the charts. That level of emotional depth can be both a gift and a burden.

On the one hand, you’re skilled at sensing others’ needs and probably have a strong pulse on morale. But on the flip side, you might take other people’s behavior too personally. You might misread a throwaway comment as an insult, for example.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask what might be leading to their reaction.

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Compartmentalize Your Anxieties

Without proper boundaries, paranoia can bleed into your personal hours. In fact, four out of five workers currently find it hard to “shut off” in the evenings.

  • In your mind’s eye, put stressful situations from your day into an imaginary backpack that you shrug off and leave in the corner of your home office overnight.
  • draw a rectangle on paper and scribble down your concerns. Tear up the paper and throw it away, symbolically disconnecting from the day as you do.

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