When we challenge our own feelings it is one thing.
How would you deal with a scenario when you have to help someone else smash their fear?
What would you do?
Having to help and support someone whose thoughts are irrational and illogical is tough. In the moment they can not see what you see. It is only afterwards, once perspective has been gained, does this become clear.
I remember dealing with someone who was not happy about a new dress code policy. He was adamant about not wearing a tie or tucking his shirt in.
This person became argumentative and agitated about the issue. He believed it was old-fashioned to wear a tie and people should choose what they wear for work.
For many it was a non issue, but for this guy the issue became his passion. It even went as far as him e-mailing the HR Director and quoting European Law directives!
When you swept all the fuss and bluster away the cause of his discomfort was a simple one – self-image.
The guy in question was big and struggled to find shirts that he found comfortable. Asking him to tuck his shirt in (it was always hanging out) do up his top button and tie a knot around it rocked his world.
When people act from a basis of fear the behaviour will often be disproportionate to the issue in hand.
Once I understood his fear I could then start to work with him and help him to do something about it.
Curiosity Is Key
Fear itself is the belief that something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or is threatening.
This definition can then have many meanings.
Dangerous in what way? To someone physically? Mentally? To their own belief system?
When someone behaves in a way we don’t understand, or disagree with, it can be easy to judge. We do it all the time and sometimes we do it without even realising.
The key is to become curious and to want to understand the behaviour.
- What is driving the fear?
- Have they misunderstood something?
- Have they received a message second-hand?
- Are they working to avoid a punishment and not towards achievement?
- Is their place within the team/business under threat?
- Do they feel they are being pushed out to the edges of the team?
Listen And Ask
This list could run into hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons about why someone may hold a fear.
When we don’t want to do something it is often rooted in a fear of failure/consequence.
So what options do you have when a friend or colleague is in this zone?
- Offer to listen – sometimes this is all it needs.
- Offer observations or suggestions to offer a solution
- Ask ‘How is the feeling helping them or holding them back?’
- Ask ‘How do they want to feel and what steps they would need to take to achieve this.
Offering support will often be enough to give them perspective.
They have support in their corner and bit by bit the feeling of fear ebbs away.
You would want the same, right?
Go out there and look for unusual behaviour. Stuff that at first instance does not make sense. Something deeper will be driving it, guaranteed.
You can be the person that makes a huge difference to someone’s life.
Be the difference and help them smash their fear.
Believe and Take Action