The CEO Refresher Websites for Professionals
Take control of your online presence
with your own professional website!
  Gradient
       
   

Overcoming Fear and Paralysis That Can Derail Promising Careers
by Harvey Deutschendorf

 
   
 
   

At the end of the unit meeting Jeremy once again felt very frustrated.  Janice and Alan had once again taken up the majority of the time, talking about things which he felt were trivial and inconsequential. It seemed to him that every little thing that they did they had to embellish it so that it would look like it was some huge accomplishment. Jeremy, on the other hand, did have some success which merited attention. Over the last couple of months he had thought up and launched a couple of major initiatives which were quite successful. He was complimented by business partners outside of the organization for his initiative and ability to carry through with difficult tasks. However within the small division of his corporate organization, Jeremy watched in frustration as people who seemed to do little but make a lot of noise got all the attention. What especially grated on him was the fact that whenever his manager was away, Janice and Alan were asked to take turns covering. Jeremy was never asked.

Not only did Jeremy see himself as more talented and capable, he had a master’s degree compared to Janice and Alan who had college diplomas. The real problem was that Jeremy was in an almost constant state of fear in his workplace. He was afraid of being the centre of attention and standing out in the crowd. Since his youth, he had struggled with shyness and felt uncomfortable in groups. This allowed others with less skill and ability to be promoted ahead of him. Sure enough, within a short time Jeremy watched with dismay as Janice applied for and was accepted for a supervisory position in another part of the organization.

The company brought in an emotional intelligence (EI) expert to do a presentation and all the staff were invited to have their EI assessed. The results were confidential, between the expert and staff. Jeremy agreed to do the assessment and found it to be an eye opening, transformational experience. He found that even though he was very high in most areas of the assessment, his assertiveness scores were well below average. He began to see the EI expert for coaching on how to overcome his fears and become more assertive. They came up with a two part plan to help Jeremy overcome his fear of groups and improve his relationship building skills.

To overcome his fears of being the centre of attention Jeremy immediately joined a toastmasters group where he was forced to speak in front of groups of people. This supportive environment gradually helped him overcome his fears and he became more comfortable speaking up in unit and other meetings. With the help of his coach, Jeremy set goals for every unit meeting. The day before the meetings he wrote down a list of things he wanted to get across. He told himself that regardless of how uncomfortable he felt with taking the time to go through his agenda, he would not give up his time before he said exactly what he had intended to. It was difficult at first. He almost felt a sense of panic, but managed to take a few deep breaths and continue on until he said exactly what he wanted to. That night he went out to celebrate the victory with his fiancé.

Even though the word in the company was that Jeremy was a dedicated and competent employee, nobody knew much about him as he was so quiet and private. Management was nervous about promoting someone who appeared to them to be secretive, wondering if he had something to hide. Jeremy came up with a plan to change that. He noticed that his coworkers like Janice and Alan spent a lot of time chatting with the manager. Jeremy forced himself to approach the manager and his direct supervisor at least three times per week and only talk about personal matters. This was part two of the plan, relationship building. When his superiors told him something about their personal lives, such as favorite holiday places, or names of pets, he went into his office and made notes on a pad he kept in the bottom drawer just for this purpose.  This gave Jeremy something to ask them about in future conversations. Prior to this he made little attempt to engage coworkers, often working alone when they went for coffee. Eventually they stopped asking him. He now began to join them regularly and initiate personal conversations. At first he found that they seemed to be suspicious of him as it was unusual behavior, but over time he began to sense that he was being accepted and began to feel that he was one of them. While he was still aware of fear and anxiety at times, it never overwhelmed him as it had in the past. It now served as a wake up call for him, letting him know there was something he needed to look after.

Within a year, Jeremy applied for a higher level position within headquarters office of the organization. He practiced mock interviewing with his coach until he was confident that he would be able to fully speak in a manner that drew attention to all of his skills and abilities. He got the job and later learned from his new manager that his previous manager had commented on what a great team player Jeremy had become. He remembers the sweet sound of those words. They were the sounds of success.


     
   
     
   

The Author

Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf is the author of The Other Kind Of Smart, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success, published by American Management Association of New York May 2009.  Harvey resides in Edmonton, Alberta.

Visit www.theotherkindofsmart.com for additional information.

       
   
 
       
   
Many more articles in Emotional Intelligence in The CEO Refresher Archives
 
       
   
 
       
   
The CEO Refresher
 
       
   

Copyright 2010 by Harvey Deutschendorf. All rights reserved.

Current Issue - Archives - CEO Links - News - Conferences - Recommended Reading

Refresher Publications