Our Biggest Fear in Business

 In Personal Development, Self-Development

My client’s issues often come in waves.  This past month it seems to be the fear of public speaking. I find this to be interesting because it makes me wonder what we really fear.  And why is this dread so severe that it continues to out rank death as our greatest terror.

Exposure, vulnerability, blowing it so badly in front of others that it cracks the shell of our persona and exposes the gentle yoke of our being? Maybe, but I imagine that’s still not the whole story. I don’t think we fear exposure as much as we fear the perception of incompetence. The shear agony of being judged by a group of peers to be a complete and utter moron. Yep, most people would rather die.

So what’s the antidote?  I tell my clients to ask a question to the audience.  Get them involved.  If one person besides you speaks the attention shifts and you can relax. As far as the deeper issue goes, stop judging yourself a complete and utter moron when you blow it.  Many of our fears subside when we accept that all we can do is our best. And recovering from a mistake in public can be much more endearing than a perfect performance.

Peaceful speaking!

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  • Laura M

    When I saw your question about what we really fear in relation to public speaking, I was reminded of something I’d recently read. According to Dr. Karl Albrecht, the author of Feararchy, there are five basic fears out of which almost all of our so-called fears are manufactured. These are:
    – Extinction – the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist
    – Mutilation – the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure
    – Loss of Autonomy – the loss of control of our destiny
    – Shunning – the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness
    – Egoism/Ego-death – the fear of humiliation, shame and any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval

    All include an element of “death,” whether to our body or our identity. In the case of public speaking, our identity is put on the line.

    • Dawn Kohler

      Hi Laura,

      Thanks for sharing the list. Shunning and Egoism is certainly part of public speaking. To your point, the key to lowering the anxiety is to try and keep your identity off the line. It’s a difficult way to go about live in many circumstances–not just public speaking.

      Thanks for being a reader.

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