One area that is often overlooked in our drive to achieve, especially in an entrepreneurial structured company, is our very real fear and uncertainty in the workplace. We all have it. But it doesn’t have to limit our performance or enjoyment at work.

Think about work for a minute. There are managers you have to deal with. Budgets. Deadlines. Other people. There’s what we’re accountable for and what we’re responsible for. There are all these results we have to produce. Then there’s what we’re thinking about ourselves and what other people are thinking about us.


A Background of Fear

Recognize that almost all the things in our own heads, and all the things happening with our company, is a shared experience that we’re all having.

All this adds up to a background of fear. Even if it’s something we are not consciously aware of. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. It’s not just personal to you. It’s not like you’re the only one wondering “Why am I afraid?” I think that’s a huge freedom to recognize that almost all the things that are going on with ourselves, and all the things happening with our company, is a shared experience that we’re all having.


Difficult to Talk About

It’s very difficult to talk about fear in the workplace most of the time because we think, “Well, I should be different than the way I am. I shouldn’t be afraid. Just look at all these other people. They’re doing well. They must already be so accomplished and so successful.”

Sometimes it manifests in a way that’s exactly the opposite. You look around at people in your company and think “How come they’re not doing it? I’m so effective. I’m so dedicated. I’m so committed. They should be doing it like me.”

Both are expressions of fear.


There is Possibility in Language

Asking “What’s wrong?” accesses fear. Asking “What’s missing?” accesses possibility.

There is magic in language that allows for a whole new level of performance, especially when dealing with fear or workplace stress. The key is to consciously structure conversations that rather than ignite peoples fear, actually returns people to themselves. In order to do this I’m asking you, challenging you and inviting you to recognize that there is a “language of being” that allows us to accomplish a whole new level of performance.

One of the practices that allows for that is when something goes sideways, rather than immediately demanding “What’s wrong? or “Why did that happen?”, ask them instead, “What’s missing?” When you ask someone “What’s wrong?” it automatically accesses fear. When you ask “What’s missing?” it accesses possibility.

Giving yourself access to possibility, as well as those around you, is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow.


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Written by Rik Klingle-Watt

About the author

Rik Klingle-Watt is a soulpepper and writer of the award winning documentary Not Business as Usual, a film about disrupting the business quo.

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