Why Include ‘Fear’ In A List of Soft Skills?

Fear could come under the ‘Emotional Resilience’ category of Soft Skills but it would imply that we are all dealing with it successfully and I don’t think that is the case for everyone.

In my mind, Fear is a big item. It lurks in wait and we can see it looming in the distance or it flares up unexpectedly and catches us out. Fear can linger for years and be the cause of recurring feelings of sadness and regret. So, finding a way to manage the cause of all of that deserves special attention.

What Causes Fear and Where Does it Come From?

Fear can be a lonely experience. It can dominate out thoughts and make us get things out of proportion. For instance, a task that we are dreading because we don’t feel adequate or can’t grasp the purpose of it.

The Guilt Syndrome

A feature of fear is that when we get these concerns we feel guilty or inadequate so we keep them to ourselves and they fester and spread in our minds.

This ‘guilt syndrome’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ mindset is also involved in the ‘flare up’ scenario. For example, we’re suddenly asked a question which sends us into a panic. We answer the question with the first thing that comes into our head and what we say isn’t entirely accurate but we don’t put it right which again, creates feeling of inadequacy which lead to fear because ‘I’m not good enough’ and somebody will find out.

Nobody Knows Everything

So are these ‘inadequate’, ‘guilty’ people frauds? Are they impostors who should be escorted to the nearest exit immediately? Well, nobody knows everything and nobody expects us to know everything. You have been hired because of certain qualities and experiences which you bring with you to the organisation.

It’s taken for granted that your opinion or ‘best guess’ will be helpful. So when, in response to a sudden question we want to hit the panic button, something like ‘Well, in my opinion think that would/wouldn’t be possible but can I just check and get back to you?’

You’ve given an opinion but you’ve made it clear that’s just what it is and you’re going to check and give them the full story. 

The 3 Step Enquiring Mind Process (again)

Not ‘hitting the panic button’ sounds easy but it isn’t. An alternative that can work is the 3 step ‘Enquiring Mind’ habit we discussed in Article 5 ‘The Enquiring Mind.’

We get in the habit of noticing our thoughts and paying attention to them (‘what’s that going round in my head?’). Then we register it and get the interest to investigate it and deal with it.

I find that talking the fear out in our minds like this is helpful. It gives it shape rather than just being an overwhelming blob.

The ‘F’ Word

A long time ago, I was at a company conference sitting in a room full of business consultants, when I heard something I never expected I would hear in a business setting……it was the word Fear.

At the front of the room, a big client of company, was giving us a keynote address. He had chosen for his topic the, to me, unmentionable subject of Fear.

He explained that he had recently hired a firm of consultants to identify across all of their sites, every touchpoint that might possibly generate fear amongst his employees.

Unfortunately, after that I don’t remember anything he said. My ears were alert but my mind was buzzing with the mention of the ‘f’ word.

Another thing I don’t remember is if, anyone asked him questions when he’d finished. Since then, however, I have drawn up in my head a list of questions I would have asked if I hadn’t been so fearful!

1.          How did you come to select ‘Fear’ as the subject of a consulting assignment?

2.          Can you share the brief you prepared for the consultants?

3.          How was Fear impacting the business?

4.          Could you share with us the criteria the consultants used to identify the touchpoints that were creating fear?

5.          What recommendations did the consultants make?

6.          Have you seen changes since the consultant’s recommendations were implemented? For example, improved communication, lower staff turnover, a more positive attitude across the business, increased stakeholder satisfaction?

7.          Are there plans to follow through on the Consultant’s findings in the long term? For example, updates on their recommendations, inclusion of the Fear topic in 1:1 reviews, a regular Fear Audit?

8.          Will there be opportunities to check-in on fear with a Coach?

Care & Openness

As I said at the start, a reason for including Fear Management in this series of Articles is because I feel that Millennials are equipping themselves to handle it and are already doing so successfully.

Care and Openness are two of the qualities I observe and they suggest that Millennials are capable of recognising and expressing their feelings and doing something about them.

Let’s remember to be careful and open with ourselves as well.