A Primer for Overcoming Fear
The power of fear is a well documented emotion. Scientists and researchers have studied its effects on our bodies and minds for decades. Every one of us will experience it during our lifetime in one way or another.
How about handling fear at work? Numerous examples of fear-causing events exist in the workplace. None more fearful than a threat to your job security. Let us start with an example of how to turn fear into action in the workplace as an employee who is blind or visually impaired.
Scenario: Fear for Your Job Security
You fear for your job security because your employer has changed ownership. You have heard new management plans to implement a variety of changes during the weeks ahead. You are unsure of your future with the company.
Naturally, in that scenario, you might have an uneasy feeling. Changes at work tend to create tension, anxiety, and gossip. You may have had a strong relationship with your old manager and coworkers. They may have accommodated you and learned how to help you do your job more effectively as someone with a visual impairment.
You could respond by getting upset and angry. You could walk away mumbling and grumbling to yourself about how new management may overlook you and your capabilities. In essence, you will have to start over gaining the trust and respect of a new manager. Consequently, you may feel more pressure to perform better and more fearful of failure.
Regardless of who or how the news is delivered to you, take a deep breath and calm yourself. Stop and think critically about the situation before you get swept away by your emotions or by rumors.
Preparing for what comes next is up to you.
Time to Turn Fear Into Action
Maintaining professionalism boils down to controlling your emotions in the workplace. Do not fall into the rumor mill. Gossip and rumors can quickly lead to an emotional response and hasty actions.
When possible, avoid the people who gossip the most. It is okay to listen to them, but remain neutral and level-headed.
Weight the Options
Think about the consequences of the possible outcomes. For example, best case scenario, your position is retained. This signifies your career is still on track with your employer. In this case, solidify yourself by demonstrating the value you bring to the company. Continue developing your competencies and skills in the position. Seek projects that stretch your abilities and highlight your work ethic.
Worst case scenario, your position is terminated. Your career may be temporarily on hold. In this case, take time to freshen up your resume. Research new industries, new employers, and new or similar job positions. Brainstorm new career paths too.
Preparing an action plan for both scenarios gives you an advantage. Write down or record which actions you will take in the event of either scenario. Review them and refine the details when you generate new ideas. This is your head start when organizational changes occur.
Gather input about the situation and your action plan. Ask for advice from people you trust. Preferably, approach people with no ties to your employer. If you developed an external network of contacts, this step is much easier to complete. Sometimes these contacts can steer you towards new opportunities as well.
Be cautious when seeking input from a coworker. Oversharing your plan of action could lead to unwanted rumors and gossip.
Go to the Source
Be assertive and ask your new manager for a meeting. If he/she queries you about the reason, simply say it relates to your position and any new changes forthcoming. If the meeting is granted, be professional as you ask questions like these:
- How will the upcoming changes affect the job position I hold?
- Will the position require new duties or new responsibilities?
- Is training provided for performing new duties?
Questions like these should help clarify the status of your job position. Your manager’s answers may point you towards the best case or worst case scenario. If the answers leave you feeling unsure of the eventual outcome, keep your head up, and revisit your action plan. Preparation is the key to your next move.
So there it is. A few, simple actions you can take in a similar situation. Many unique workplace scenarios exist. Some scenarios are more complicated than others, but none are more fearful than losing a job. Not to mention the added complexities caused by blindness or visual impairment.
In part two, I will discuss the fear that gripped me at the same time my eyesight began deteriorating more rapidly and how I turned that fear into action.