First time visitor? Start Here Search

Posts Tagged ‘Overcoming Fear’

The 4 Steps to Diagnosing Fear in Business

I often write about fear dynamicsthe behavior and communication patterns that emerge during interpersonal interactions involving fear or anxiety that any or all involved parties are feeling. For example, I was working with a client who repeatedly took hard line stances on negotiation points as his initial opening position. However, when there was silence in the negotiation or it appeared the other party might walk, then my client would cave and give in to the demand. I had observed this type of negotiating tactic before (as I am sure many have), but the consistency of this behavior and almost complete capitulation on virtually every issue was unusual.

As I engaged with my client, I stated that the dynamic he was creating was making each negotiation point more and more difficult because he was teaching the other side that he would give in whenever there was a pause or a fear that the deal might die. My client was self-aware enough to understand this and, to his credit, he admitted to engaging in this behavior. He also stated very clearly that he did not want to lose the deal regardless of the terms. This insight was very helpful to me in understanding the situation; knowing that my client and I understood each other alleviated my anxiety. It allowed me to be more aggressive in stopping my client from speaking and in avoiding breaks and other moments of silence that would eat away at my client.

Ultimately, we worked through the deal and were able to close the transaction. I believe that my client got a better deal after he and I were able to understand the tension between the two of us, and I was then able to act to mitigate my client’s fear response.

Fear dynamics play a role in what is often referred to as

Fight, Flight, or Freeze: Are Those the Only Options?

For our own protection, we are hardwired to fight, flee, or freeze when we perceive danger. The brain’s amygdala triggers a release of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Your heart rate jumps, breathing becomes shallow and rapid to take in more oxygen, your throat tightens, your face gets flush, your palms get sweaty. While the fear response has been very helpful historically and in the physical world, it is a useful indicator in our personal or business relationships, our careers, our finances, or even our freedom. The fear response serves as an early warning of potential threats and let us know when “something just doesn’t feel right.” However, it can seriously interfere with our engagement with the world if it disengages rational thought processes. In the midst of a fear response, complex decision-making and memory are inhibited. You lose the ability to view a situation from multiple perspectives, so you tend to see complex issues in black and white.

When I am in a heated moment of a transaction or negotiation I find that I need to actively slow myself down and “take a beat” in order to engage thoughtfully and rationally. Early in my career it seemed as though I would take the emotional bait of fear and anxiety in a situation and find myself being reactive to challenges or emergencies in a transaction. Through experience and self-introspection, I have found that if these impulses can be moderated, better decisions and advice are more likely to occur.

As you might expect, the fear response can lead to conflict and prevent people from making well-informed, rational decisions. It can cause people to act out of