Advice column: I can’t face online social calls and fear I’m becoming antisocial
Dear Ash,

As I have been working from home for some time now, I have been unable to interact with colleagues on a regular basis and I don’t feel part of the social circle. I now feel very awkward and nervous when trying to speak to colleagues on a social basis across Zoom. I used to be quite outgoing and gregarious, but I feel that being isolated at home has changed me as a person and made me quite antisocial. I fear this will impact my longer term prospects at the firm, as I am just making excuses to avoid all online social events and when offices do fully reopen I may not have the same level of confidence.

 

Ash replies

Being forcibly confined in our homes due to lockdown has inevitably impacted on our self esteem and confidence to varying degrees. We will need to find ways to readjust slowly to our growing freedoms, perhaps just like prisoners coming out of confinement. Therefore please do not give yourself such a hard time.

Digital interaction has been invaluable, but it still is quite a forced and artificial means of interaction. We have to make a specific effort to arrange Zoom calls, and this is not ideal as many of us prefer the impulsivity of human interaction – chatting to a colleague while making coffee in the office kitchen, or bumping into someone in the coffee shop and catching up. There is less pressure to make conversation, and this is not helped by having to juggle conversations in a home environment rather than in a neutral office space.

I suggest that you give yourself small, periodic challenges to readjust gradually, by for example arranging a 10 minute Zoom call with one office colleague every week. Perhaps do this at lunchtime while on a walk, to allow you to speak outwith the home environment.

Once you feel better about the first call, you should hopefully be able to increase the frequency of these; just go slow and steady and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Also try to reach out to your GP about how you are feeling: there will inevitably be others who will be feeling just like you are and there may be specific support or coping strategies potentially available too.

Take care.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to them via the editor. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. Email legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk or phone 0131 226 7411 (select option 3).

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