Control Your Fear – Part 1

As a presentation trainer and coach, I deal weekly with one of the most common fears from which people suffer – public speaking. And I have seen how just that one fear can damage a person’s ability to succeed. For my own part, I deal with slight claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) which probably won’t hurt my career, and with the fear of rejection, which could. Fortunately, I am not paralyzed by either of these phobias, but I do have enough of a physical response to them that I tend to avoid them. Staying out of caves has been pretty easy for me, but meeting new people, socializing at parties and picking up the phone to call customers (new or old) are all integral parts of my business life. So I have been forced throughout my career to control this fear of rejection and build my business. This article will show you the steps I take to control my irrational emotions, with the belief that you can learn to control yours as well.

Acknowledge and Understand

The first step in overcoming a fear is to acknowledge that we have it. However, we are so good at rationalizing our behavior that we can often mask a phobia behind logical reasoning for our avoidance. This means that instead of facing something that causes us fear, we either find other things to do or distain that which we fear as unimportant. Over time we can develop this ability to avoid these situations to such an extent that we structure our life in a way that circumvents the possibility of facing them at all. If the avoidance doesn’t get in the way of your career choices (I won’t become a spelunker, for example), then no big deal. But if you eschew a line of work that would otherwise be very rewarding because of your fear, then you are limiting your success for the sake of a phobia that you might be able to control. So take a good look at those things that cause anxiety or distress and determine what you are going to do about it. If you determine you want to take it on, go to the next step.

Choose Value Over Fear

By taking the step to deal with your fear, you are already starting to choose value over fear. You have chosen not to let fear control your choices, but to control the fear so that you have more choices to take. You can use this technique every day in all of the difficult tasks you have to do and even the hard decisions you have to make. Move your evaluations of an activity away from your emotional side which drives your fear to your logical side so they can drive your career! Let’s say you have been asked by your boss to give a 5 minute project update at the next group meeting. Because of your fear of public speaking, you contemplate making an excuse that will keep you from taking it on. However, you know that both you and a co-worker are being considered for a supervisory position, and giving this report will be a chance to display your leadership abilities. Because this promotion is important to you, you decide to overcome your trepidation and give the report. This is choosing value over fear. I might also suggest that you take a course that will improve your public speaking ability such as Professional Communications: Strategies and Styles.

Part 2, coming soon!

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