New job - challenges and worries

We all at some point in our lives have to change a job or enter a training course. The majority of us will recall that unsettling feeling of uncertainty when we enter our new workplace for the first time.

  • Who am I going to meet there?
  • What is it going to be like to see their faces for the first time?
  • What will they expect from me?
  • Have they heard anything about me already?
  • What if they don't like me?
  • What if I won't be able to perform my duties as well as I want to?
  • Will they help me?
  • Will they accept me or will they reject me?

An overwhelming number of questions and thoughts keep popping up in your head at this crucial time which might, and often does, provoke anxieties and causes stress on your first day at work.

There might be a few possible outcomes. You might meet very friendly and open people who will help you to adapt to your new role and who will support you if you struggle. The management might be supportive, and therefore the work process runs smoothly and efficiently, but this is a rare occurrence. In reality, you are coming into a collective of people of different characters, who will have already established a hierarchy.

Bear in mind that these people will have gone through a similar situation to you in the past - worrying, adapting and adjusting - so they might understand you and sympathise with what you are going through. Some might feel unsettled by the presence of a new peer because of their personality or their inability to adapt.

There might be feelings of excitement, fear, intimidation, aggression, resentment, ambivalence, joy and hope. This mixture can create a turbulent atmosphere for you, and if the management is not particularly effective, the pressures of the job can add to the difficulty of processing it all.

Know your strengths and weaknesses

It helps if you know your strengths and weaknesses. In fact, you probably had to mention them in your job application and interview. It's a very popular question with the employers, and not without reason. If you know your strengths, you might consider how to use them to your advantage in this environment; knowing your weaknesses gives you time to prepare yourself. It's like blank spots on a map - when someone discovers a new land, the blank spots disappear.

Ask yourself: What am I worried about? If you can be honest with yourself, you will be able to outline a few “blank spots” which might identify your lack of knowledge in a certain area of expertise, which you have preferred to ignore. In that case, you have time to find out what it is you are not sure about, and to improve your knowledge.

It could be the way you react to certain situations that might negatively affect your relationships with people. It can be useful in such a situation to see a therapist, or at least to read about similar experiences of other people and the ways they cope. It could be the speed of your thought processes - some people move fast, some people make decisions quickly; others move more slowly and take longer to reach a decision. This has nothing to do with laziness or lack of intelligence - these are innate biological traits.

Think about how you are going to adjust to the pace of your potential new job - what is the best course of action?

Consider the compatibility of the job role and your inner resources. Do not underestimate yourself: often people are able to achieve much more than they believe they could. Try and remember the times when you have done something really well. Remember the feeling and use it when you need to motivate yourself.

First impressions

The first impression plays a vital role in establishing relationships. Have you ever felt immediate resentment towards a person who you've met for the first time in your life? Or felt intimidated without any obvious reason? Or you immediately felt that you can trust this person? This might be because this person reminds you of someone with whom you had a negative/positive experience in the past. You might not even remember that experience, as this feeling may arise from your unconscious. You might expect that person to treat you in a certain way, or you might imagine that you know what they think about you. This phenomenon is called transference.

Transference can be positive and negative, and it affects the relationships between people. If you find yourself feeling a certain way towards a person you've just met, ask yourself how this new person might be affected by you. If, for example, you are feeling hostility towards them, imagine what they might be feeling in response. What if they are asking themselves “what have I done wrong?”, and they appear confused and upset?

On the surface, that might appear like hostility towards you. In this scenario, events might move in a negative direction, or you could try and see beyond your feelings. Prepare yourself and try to open your mind to other people. Seeing beyond your transference might feel difficult, but it is possible. It helps if at the first contact you search for the good qualities in the other person. Do not hesitate to acknowledge them when appropriate, to give positive feedback. Make people feel appreciated.

Your relationships at work will depend on your open-mindedness, on how well you know yourself, your weaknesses and strengths, on your willingness to see beyond your feelings. Acceptance comes with an accepting attitude. Developing your knowledge about your occupation together with your personal development will help create a joyful and fulfilling life path.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Chichester, West Sussex, PO19
Written by Sofia Kolesnikova, MBACP, Psychotherapeutic Counsellor
Chichester, West Sussex, PO19

Sofia Kolesnikova is Psychotherapeutic Counsellor at Chichester Counselling Services, Chichester, West Sussex. She specializes in working with anxiety, depression, trauma and relational difficulties. She also works with clients online via Skype.

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