Fear – How embracing diversity helps navigating uncertainty

May 01, 2020

“Uncertainty is a breeding ground for fear. When we consult with clients now, we will experience their fear. The problem is, if we are trying to solve problems that are driven by fear, it is often impossible to reach a genuinely beneficial outcome. It is therefore imperative to remove the fear from the situation but to be mindful of the diversity of the experience thereof.”

Let’s start that the beginning, what is fear? Some definitions include: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.”

Young children need structure and routine because it creates a sense of certainty and control. As a result, we are often very uncomfortable and even fearful when there is uncertainty.

One thing is sure, COVID – 19 has resulted in much uncertainty for many of us. Each of us experiences and deal with fear differently, and perhaps realising and appreciating it is the key to navigating through it.

According to Gina Berreca, “There is a fascinating and emblematic gender  difference concerning fear. When asked to write a fear-laden story about death, male subjects overwhelmingly chose to write about the terror of their death. Women subjects, given precisely the same instructions, wrote stories about the death of a loved one—a child, a spouse, a parent. They almost never attached their greatest fears to the loss of their own lives, but instead to the sense of powerlessness over the lives of others—regarded as personal and private. ” [1]

So, there is seemingly an inward versus an outward focus. What is more, the male reaction to fear is often head-on and confrontational, while the feminine is generally perceived not to be.

My point is, there are distinct differences in how we experience and face fear. For the first time in recent history, we need different perspectives in navigating through this.

So, why is this relevant? Well, uncertainty is a breeding ground for fear. When we consult with clients now, we will experience their fear. The problem is, if we are trying to solve problems that are driven by fear, it is often impossible to reach a genuinely beneficial outcome. It is therefore imperative to remove the fear from the situation but to be mindful of the diversity of the experience thereof.

Some practical tips to achieve this are:

  1. Ask incisive questions that are free from judgement
  2. Share as much information that can lead to a solution as possible
  3. Remember to share the risks, and various outcomes should the ideal issue not come to fruition
  4. Establish what the expectations around successful execution is and ensure that you align it realistically. Be very careful and ensure you do not reignite fear in the process.

Your role as a professional is vital to achieving this in building a sound solution in this time of fear and uncertainty.

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