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How Fear Impacts Your Personal EffectivenessDepending on how we handle fear, it has impact on the choices we make in our professional and personal lives. Fear rears its ugly head in even the most courageous people. Fear strikes at all levels in organizations and has no respect for titles, background, education or ability.

According to Suzanne Updegraff, author, business leader, and CEO of Employee Development Systems, Inc., “Fear is so common in day-to-day thinking that I’ve begun to listen for its appearance in the conversations I have with clients, colleagues and members of management. Some of the individuals I most admire feel fear on a consistent basis and use it to their advantage. Unfortunately, however, some of the individuals I most admire also admit to feeling limited when they are fearful.”

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One tongue in cheek take on fear is that the word F-E-A-R actually stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.”  Here are common performance-driven fears that impact your personal effectiveness:


Fear of failure is the fear of being or doing something“wrong.” The foundation in your thinking is that there is a “right” way, and the belief is that you’re not up to the task of being “right.”


Embracing performance criticism as a gift instead of an attack requires utilizing personal effectiveness strategies to the greatest degree. Self-develop- ment is mandatory. 2. Askforcriticismafteraprojectortask is finished. The more you ask, the more fear dissipates.


If I tell you what I think, I’m afraid you’ll get mad. If I tell you how I feel, I’m afraid that your feelings will be hurt. If I tell you how your actions toward me created a negative result, I’m afraid that I’ll get fired. Does any of this sound familiar?

Being assertive is based on mutual respect, not fear. When I let you know my thoughts, I am valuing your opinion, too. When I let you know how I feel about a work situation, I am building trust between us because I am being honest. When I share how your actions created a negative result in my behavior, I am setting expectations and providing a future foundation for the two of us to work toward.

Many of us are hindering our effectiveness by falling prey to these fears and others. Here are some coping mechanisms for breaking your habits and moving ahead.

Focus on action. Take action one action that you have been putting off, without regard for the result. It’s okay if it doesn’t work out. Perhaps you want to contact someone who could help your business, but are concerned about rejection. It doesn’t matter. Your goal is to take action, not to focus on the outcome.

Flip your language. Use positive rather than negative language. Develop a habit of talking to yourself in the positive. The ‘I think I can’ principle really does work!

Fake it until you make it. When you feel unsure, fake your confidence. You don’t have to feel 100% confident on the inside in order to convey confidence on the outside. Many accomplished people feel vulnerable on the inside, but what makes them different is that they are willing to move forward anyway.

Find new body language: Your body is a circuit breaker. Change how you use it. If you feel that you are tightening up, take a few quiet moments in your office to breathe and get yourself back to a focused, calm stance. Then move ahead and handle the challenge or situation you are addressing.

Fear impacts most people’s effectiveness. By mastering it, you will find yourself ahead of your peers and able to accomplish your personal and professional goals!

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